Networking, networking, networking -- we know, snagging a great in-house gig is all about networking. For social creatures, the mantra that "it's all about who you know" is music to the ears. Most introverts, on the other hand, would rather gouge their eyes out with a fork than attend a networking event.
If that describes you: Put the fork down, because guess what? Introverts can network, too!
Here are a few networking tips for socially awkward and introverted in-house counsel:
Use the buddy system. In the dating world, we all know the "wing-wo/man" system. For socially awkward folks, that approach works well in the networking realm, too. Remember, your outgoing friend or colleague can be a conversation-starter, but you have to jump in at some point. No talking to just your wing-networker!
Don't hover around the snack table. Let's be frank, a cheese plate often feels more welcoming than a room full of professionals. But when you choose the fruit compote over eye contact, that sends the signal that you're disinterested and not worth giving the time of day. If you can't fight the food umbilical cord, use the grub to strike up a conversation with a fellow (awkward) foodie.
Ask open-ended questions. When you ask broad "how/what/why" questions about the other person's professional or personal interests, you're killing two birds with one stone. You won't have to say as much, but more importantly, you're making the speaker feel "heard." That being said, don't be a mindless head-nodding zombie. Make sure to use your lawyerly active listening skills.
Make a friend first. One tactic that seems to work for introverts is focusing on friendships first. When you make friends and figure out how to do business later, the business conversation will come more naturally, one entrepreneur told Inc.com. To avoid talking shop is especially doable for in-house counsel because they're often networking with non-lawyers (count your lucky stars that you're not swimming with sharks at a law firm shindig!).