Legal networking events can be intimidating, especially if you're looking to land your first job -- or if you've been out of the job market for a while.
What should you say? How should you say it? And how many drinks will it take before you feel comfortable enough to approach anyone for some serious self-marketing?
We're certainly not encouraging alcohol intake as a way to prepare for legal networking. But as a metaphor, you may want to drink in some of these tips to help you stand out at your next networking event:
First drink: The icebreaker -- Experts say the first 10 seconds are crucial when you meet someone new, so prepare a few opening lines to break the ice. You'll also want to sell yourself: Let people know within the first few seconds who you are and what makes you special. Consider jumping into an existing group of three or more, instead of breaking up a two-person conversation.
Second drink: Level 2 small-talk -- Brush up on interesting discussion topics related to law, especially in the fields you're considering for a career. Know of a couple big cases in the news.
Third drink: Shut up and listen -- The gears should be oiled by now, so resist the temptation to talk about yourself the entire night. Turn your attention to others, instead of dominating the conversation.
Fourth drink: Think strategy -- Not everyone at a legal networking event is worth your time. Try to identify the "network spiders" -- people who seem to know everyone, and can connect you to others. Keep to beer or wine at this point, avoid shots.
Fifth drink: Go home! -- The most important part of a legal networking event may actually happen when you get home. That's when experts say you should send emails and social media invites to the new contacts you made. Grab a soda water to level things out.
Setting up reminders and Google alerts can also help, so when your big-time contact has big news to share, you can be the first to congratulate her. Remember it may take a few legal networking events before you feel comfortable selling yourself. You can always go home and drink alone, just don't drunk dial/e-mail anyone after hours.