This past weekend I attending a great conference run by the Colorado Women’s Bar Association and it was amazing. Those of you non-lawyers (aka most of you) please don’t stop reading. I won’t bore you with details of what I learned or fill this email with a ton of legal jargon. While I really enjoyed the seminars that were put on, I actually gained much more from the social events.
I am a social person, but I am not good at socializing when I am in a room of people I don’t know. It takes a lot for me to break out and meet new people. When I attended this event for the first time last year I sat quietly to myself for the first two sessions. When it came time for lunch, I knew I was going to have to sit by other people, and I would probably be expected to talk to them too. I picked a table with younger looking women. I figured if they were close to my age, maybe they would be in the same boat as me. As a young family and DUI attorney in a small town, it is hard to find other attorneys my age to socialize with. They are either much older than me (I practice with my father and most are his friends) or they are the district attorneys and even though I used to be one of them when we lived in another state – they still consider me the “enemy” and aren’t allowed to socialize with me. I am so glad I sat at the table I did, because I met a lot of great women who I still keep in touch with.
So my first tip for networking is to talk to people. It may cause a little anxiety at first, but it is so worth it!
This year, even though I made such strides last year, when I walked into that first conference room my heart was pounding. Would I recognize anyone? Where would I sit? Luckily as soon as I walked in I noticed a friendly face – one of my local judges. While a judge may be intimidating to some (and believe me, many are to me) this one I consider a mentor and friend. Her son and I grew up together and she and my dad worked together many years ago. Another local judge arrived soon thereafter. It was wonderful, not just because there were people at the convention I knew, but also because I had a chance to talk with them outside the courtroom. They offered me so much advice over the two days we were there that will help me throughout my career. We even talked about starting up a local chapter of the women’s bar association so that other young lawyerslike myself can find great mentors.
My second networking tip is to reach out a find a mentor. The advice, even if it starts with where to eat and what to wear, will be the most valuable information you will ever get.
As with many conventions, this one offers a social event on the second night. They always have some sort trivia/game to play on teams. This is another great way to get to know other people. By the second night I am more comfortable so it is easier to have fun. I joined a team where I knew only about half the table, and had a great time getting to know the rest as we played “Name that Tune”, created a crossword puzzle, and designed or own Lady Gaga (yes you read that right!). At the end of the evening I got to rub elbows and exchange jokes with one of our Supreme Court justices; it was awesome!
My third networking tip is to let loose and have fun!
So reach out and find a convention, networking, or social event in your field. Who knows, you might even meet a DUI defense attorney Fountain Hills, Arizona. I know I will be attending this event for years to come. It doesn’t hurt that this was the beautiful view in Vail, Colorado from my hotel room!
What is your line of work? How do you network?