Few people can appreciate the importance networking more than lawyers. But even if you're not the most popular guy at the party, there are a couple of techniques you can employ to better improve your chances of catching the attention of someone who matters. We go into some examples.
Not Reinventing the Wheel -- Reinterpreting It
Theda Snyder from AttorneyatWork.com created a great list that goes into the proper and most effective techniques of networking. We've taken a few of her highlights and have given them our very own angle.
The Hit-List: Attorney social functions are all about seemingly relaxing without actually really relaxing. The small fry are angling for opportunity, and the big fish know that they are being hunted. Their job is to get congratulated and get their egos stroked. Before you even attend the function, you should already have a list of three people whom you'd like to make inroads with. You might not meet them all, but at least you'll have contingencies.
Small Talk: You had better word on your small talk skills because so much of law is simply knowing how to appear interested in conversation even if you find it boring. Deep down, a good lawyer is a salesperson, and you'll have to know how to dispel awkward silence. An easy way to find a subject is to find some mutual complaint in the present circumstance and run from there. For example, "Wow, they really need to clean this elevator's floor." You'd be amazed at what coordinated complaining can do for your career.
Arrive Early; Stay Late: This one is a must. For some reason, lawyers are the most notorious at partying. This is partly in their nature, but also partly in the desire to advance their careers. The longer you stick around to talk to people, the more likely it is you're going to end up talking to someone influential. Lawyers also like to go for a "second round" -- jockying with each other to keep drinking. If you want to keep your wits about you, you should eventually switch to club soda. Either way, you'll be able to maintain intimacy with more lawyers when they're inebriated. As crass as that sounds, this can help your career tremendously.