In this lesson, we'll tackle what many lawyers consider a necessary evil: networking events.

Lawyers spend the bulk of their marketing time hosting or attending receptions and other business events such as conferences and trade shows, where they hope to network and make contacts that will lead to getting business. Most, however, come home tired, empty-handed and discouraged. Worse, they feel guilty for having wasted yet another evening away from their families for nothing.

Few things seem to be as frustrating for lawyers as the time they spend at networking events.  Most get little out of them, but everyone still has to keep going anyway.

This simulation will show you how to maximize the value you get from networking time, and how to minimize your discomfort.

As with your legal work, success begins long before you show up in court or at the negotiating table.  So, let's use that lawyer perspective to set a goal for the event.

After all, you've got plenty of other things to do, so you have to have worthwhile purpose or it makes no sense to go.

What specifically do you want to accomplish from the time you invest?  Which of the five options on the screen makes the most sense?

If you hover your cursor over each option you'll hear it aloud.

For almost 20 years, most of the lawyers I coached, no matter how successful they were, told me that the thought of hanging around at yet another networking event, making small talk but not knowing how to get anything out of it, is discouraging. 

As you think about your own experience with these events, you may recall thinking, “Why did I buy a ticket to this Chamber of Commerce networking event?  I hate these things.  A bunch of lawyers, standing around, smiling, trying to hustle work from businesspeople who usually have attorneys already.”

Why do so many lawyers have such difficulty with these events?

Setting aside individual personality considerations, the cause is simple: without intending to, we set ourselves up to fail, for predictable reasons:

1. No clear goal or purpose.  We go because we're supposed to go, and we hope something worthwhile happens.  If we don't know what we want, it's hard to get it.

2. No strategy or plan.  We just kind of wander around, hoping to bump into someone who wants to hire us.  Even if we know what we want, if we don't know how we'll go after it, our chances of success are slim, and we're relying on blind luck.

3. We complicate things and get in our own way.  With a clear goal and a simple plan, we'll succeed if we don't create obstacles.

Over the next 20 - 30 minutes or so, you're going to guide an avatar, i.e., a virtual you, through a simulated networking event.  A virtual coach will be right beside you, offering advice and helping you think through your choices as you make them.

Through this simulation, you'll prove four things to yourself:

1. You can establish a specific, achievable goal for any networking event

2. You can reason out the simplest, most direct way to reach that goal

3. You have all the skills you need to be a successful networker.  You've had them all along. They are the same skills that make you a good lawyer.  You don't need new skills; you just need to apply your “lawyering” skills to this new purpose.

4.  You don't have to be good at "selling yourself" to be a successful networker.  In fact, pitching your services or your expertise is one of the most counter-productive things you can do.

Next Steps Call or Meeting

If you're here, that means you were successful at your networking event, 101a► meaning someone discussed a business problem that ultimately leads to them needing someone with your skills and expertise.  Congratulations. 

If you did it right, 101b► you have a specific date and time to reconnect, either in person or by phone.  In this simulation, we'll use a phone scenario because it occurs more frequently.