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Networking tip 24: Do your homework

Our schedules as lawyers are normally busy enough with client work, so fitting in networking time is not always easy. Sometimes getting to an event is a last-minute, haphazard rush. Perhaps this situation sounds familiar: You are heading out the door (late!) while making final edits to an important document. On the way, you are dictating (OK, shouting) last-minute instructions to your secretary. You’re not even sure of the location of the meeting as you charge to your uncertain destination (Wembley or Waterloo? WC1 or W1?), simultaneously fumbling for the crumpled invitation in your bag.

If you recognize this scenario, then you, like me, should make some adjustments to ensure that you get the most from the time you spend networking—before you rush out the door.

Understand your objective for attending. Is it…

  • Meeting people with something in common?
  • Hoping to encounter a specific person (or type of person?)
  • Exposure?
  • General networking?
  • Learning something?

Then, with your objective powerfullyin mind, make sure that you do your homework. Think about how you can best achieve your purpose and what preparation may be necessary.

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Networking tip 23: Never burn bridges

It seems an obvious point, but almost all of us have done it: We send off an email or say something that we later wish we hadn’t. That “something” then lodges forever in the other person’s mind, and we know, no matter how hard we try, that it will never be forgotten. This is why every piece of correspondence, departing note, or good-bye gesture must be thought through and its implications considered.

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Networking tip 22: Commit to the success of others

An effective network is contingent on the success of each person within the group. As other individuals in your circle become more successful, they not only extend their power and influence, but also their chances of being able to help you. . . In short, by boosting the careers of others, you probably increase the likelihood of gaining your own rewards.  (Note, if you lift people up emotionally and they will in return appreciate you.  Well, it’s also important to lift people up professionally—they will probably lift you up in return).

Second, through the act of helping, you reinforce relationships. When you are generous with referrals, contacts, or support, a mutual bond is created. Through recommendations, you’renot only telling the other person that he is worthy (subliminal message: “I trust you”), but you’re also cultivating his trustby providing something of value without asking for a return. So even when you think helping someone else might prove detrimental to yourself, you should still consider extending that support. Giving something is always better and healthier than any short-term reward that you might receive from hoarding it. 

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