There is one word that nobody trying to find a job or advance in their career is looking to hear less than Networking. It’s a buzz word, so often used that it instantly clicks peoples’ brains to the off position. But if networking is so ubiquitous, then why are so many people so bad at it?
Networking, in it’s lowest form, is simply making basic, human connections with people in the community. That’s it! It’s getting to know people and getting people to know you and having them like you enough for them to remember you. Networking in positions where you need to make sales, like as a lawyer in private practice, will become even more beneficial, because not only will you be able to use your connections to find employment or opportunities for professional advancement, you will also be able to use your own personal network to drive business and/or get earmarked for work assignments.
As a lawyer, networking starts in law school. Your fellow classmates will one day be your future colleagues, future clients, and future bosses. And since everyone that you meet could someday be a potential client or be connected to someone that can get you further on your path toward your goals, you might as well enjoy the time that you spend building relationships and making acquaintances and friends!
Are you at a loss for fun or interesting ways to meet new people and build relationships? Here’s a couple of ideas to help get you started.
1. Young Professionals Organizations
Young Professional organizations oftentimes give you the opportunity to show your leadership skills, when if you are just entering your field, you may not get the same opportunities at work. In addition, your work with these organizations may satisfy your need to give back to the community, if you aren’t able to do that with your job, as well!
If you live in the Twin Cities, here are some great examples:
2. Non-profit organization Boards
There is something to be said of being on the Board of a non-profit organization. Being an active, engaged, and thoughtful member of a Board will give you the opportunity to connect with fellow Board members as well as members of the community. Board service also gives you the opportunity to work on projects that you are passionate about!
Interested in Board service? Check out the Minnesota Council of Non-Profit’s job/volunteer board!
3. Sports teams
One great way to meet people is to join a sports team. Basketball, slow-pitch softball, kickball – whatever it is that you find fun. Not only can you find it enjoyable and get in a little exercise to help reduce your stress, you can show your teammates that you a fun person to be around, you work well on a team, are reliable, and have passion! Check with your employer to see if they ave any established teams or what their policy is for sponsoring a team. If you still live near the law school that you went to, they may have an alumni team that you an join, too!
So, maybe sports aren’t your thing. Instead of putting on a team uniform, throw on our favorite formal clothes and attend the galas put on by the various affinity bars or other organizations around town! Some of them likely have a cost associated with attendance, but the money generally goes to a good cause! It’s important to note that you usually don’t have to belong to the affinity group that is hosting the event, as long as you have a ticket!
For links to the local affinity bar association websites, click here!
5. Peer Mentor groups
Friends of friends are also a good place to start! Gather a group of people who you would consider peers and discuss topics that are important to being successful in your job! You can talk about time management techniques, balancing work with having children, generational differences in communication, or effective branding techniques.
Are you brand new to the Twin Cities and don’t know very many people? Check out www.meetup.com to find groups of people who are interested in doing the same things that you like doing! Groups in the Twin Cities include a Salsa dancing group, language conversation groups, “The Monthly Pint Group”, and even a paranormal research society. Browse through the available groups, and if you don’t see one that you like, make your own!
Do you build connections with people through any of these ways? What other fun ways do you get to know people?