Networking - 5 Networking Skills to Break the Ice
One of the most difficult things for many lawyers and firm owners is getting comfortable with their networking efforts and being proactive about it. It can also be hard to break the ice with people at events and in person meet-ups, indeed even starting conversations online can be a challenge for some. So we thought we would put together an outline of points that will help you break the ice and get more comfortable.
Go in with an open mind
Networking can be scary and even a chore at times. It’s very important that you don’t go into into a networking event with this mindset. Apart from anything else you should drop all expectations and be open to meeting new people and discussing new things. In the end you have to remember that you aren’t going to the event to meet with people you already know. If this is the case you you might just be stepping into an echo chamber.
Think of networking as a chance to get to know others and seek advice from someone who may have a different point of view. Muster up the courage and talk to someone you have never met before. It's all about new opportunities and perspectives on your business and getting to know people who can help you take your business or referral network to the next level.
Muster up the Courage and Talk to Someone You Have Never Met Before
Get out of your comfort zone and don’t just stick with your friends and people you already know. The walking over and talking part may be excruciatingly painful for some people but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a few seconds of courage to those first initial steps and just introduce yourself. Trust us when we say you will reap the benefits of overcoming this small obstacle or discomfort. The other great thing is that doing this over and over will eventually alleviate most of the anxiety you have. Slowly but surely you will expand your comfort zone and it will become second nature. But you have to actually do it, over and over.
Of course introducing yourself is just the starting point. To truly network with new individuals, you need to engage with them. A great and obvious way to engage with people is to ask some questions. Chances are the person you approach will be grateful, gracious and reciprocate. For example ask them what bring them to the event and which sessions they might have enjoyed the most. You could also lead with a question about an area you happen to know they are experts in. Most people love to talk especially about themselves so get the conversation started.
Once you have broken the ice, the conversation should flow more freely and with some sensible questions you likely won’t have to carry the weight of the conversation by yourself. The other things to remember going into an event is to actually have a think beforehand who you want to meet and get introduced to and so some to he leg work beforehand.
Now that you have a conversation going the most important thing to actually do is take the time to listen. Remember that the whole point of you being there is to learn something new and the only way to do that is to listen to what people say.
Apart from anything tuning in properly to what someone is saying will be greatly appreciated by them and value it. They have taken the time to come to the event to meet new people and will value someone who takes an interest I what they have to say.
First and foremost try and have some fun and relax. Events are a good chance for you take a more personal approach and get comfortable in your own skin. If you are personable, happy and open to talk to new people, you will break the ice pretty easily with whomever you come across.
Networking isn’t just about building a professional network it’s also about having a bit of fun in a more relaxed and down to earth environment.