Cocktail parties, business lunches -- they're all fine places to network. But as the late Yogi Berra once said: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." It can be maddening to join a Facebook group or a bar association committee where everyone is trying to network.
In much the same way as inspiration can strike in the bathtub, you may find yourself in a situation where you can network or drum up some business -- as in these five places to network that you might not have considered:
1. Jury Duty
Jury duty is a great place -- especially for lawyers. We wrote recently about whether lawyers should be on juries, but from the lawyer-juror's point of view, things are great. Make sure you bring business cards, because once you let everyone know during voir dire that you're a lawyer, you may have some people come to ask for your advice. Now you've got an in!
2. The Kid's Sports Events
Whether it's at little Mason's lacrosse game or little Emma's soccer match, placing you in the proximity of other professional parents is a great way to get a conversation going about what you do, etc. It's guaranteed that someone will ask a legal question -- and there's your opportunity to sling a business card.
3. Car Pool
Put a bunch of strangers together and, unless there's one of those Draconian "no talking" policies in the car pool, you'll have a conversation. Much like little Aiden's hockey game (see above), here you've got a captive audience that already knows what a great person you are and with whom you can make connections.
4. Waiting Anywhere
Long line at the grocery store? In the waiting room at the doctor's office? DMV? Amusement park? Take the opportunity to mildly joke about the waiting situation and then ease into introducing yourself. "Oh, well, I'm a lawyer ..." and so on. After you get the standard jokes about how horrible lawyers are, you might get a question or two. Amusement parks are particularly well suited for networking, as the lines are often quite long. In other words: Bring business cards to Disneyland.
A bunch of people all spending a few hours together on the same day? That's prime opportunity for meeting other lawyers or making yourself known throughout the community. Once people know what a great person you are, they might ask for your card during that mill around time afterward.
The bottom line for all of these suggestions is that you should look for places where strangers congregate and don't have a whole lot to do and resort to small talk to pass the time. We're not saying you should spend all your time at the laundromat, but we're also not saying you shouldn't.
Editor's Note, September 29, 2015: This post was first published in September 2014. It has since been updated.