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Don't be shortsighted about networking

This morning I gave a talk to the Association of Women Solicitors about personal branding (around the format of a networking breakfast). It was a well-attended event composed mainly of senior private practice women working in the City. Yet afterwards I found myself considering those invitees who chose not to come (no one being hugely specific as to whom they might be). I asked myself, “Did they stay home because, as fellow private practice lawyers, they felt that their networking opportunities were limited?” and: “Had they had thought General Counsels or other potential clients had been there, would they have come?”

Knowing my fellow lawyers (and myself, when practicing, as well!), I suspected that the answer to these questions was probably “Yes”—for most of the no-shows, at least. But I still thought them very shortsighted, for the obvious, but sometimes forgotten reasons:

1. Networking is not about attending a single event and meeting a new client—it’s about making new connections and creating opportunities to build relationships.

2. Just because someone you meet isn’t a potential client (and could even be a competitor), you never know where he or she might end up.

3. Networking is a long-term endeavor, where you need to build your connections one meeting at a time.

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