Networking Gone Wrong
Imposter in the city on networking
This is a guest blog post by Imposter in the City.
Think you can’t network?
You can. I used to tell myself it was just something that, as an introverted person, I simply couldn’t do. The first networking event I went to I honestly just got scared and spent half the time hiding in the toilets.
However, I was forgetting something fundamental - networking is literally just a conversation.
I was scared by the label put on it, and by the ‘status’ of the people I was talking to - but once you remember it’s just a chat with other regular human beings, the same as any other you have multiple times a day, it’s a lot less scary. In particular, most of the trainees I spoke to were even a similar age to me.
If we’d met at a house party and got talking about their job, I wouldn’t have been nervous at all - why should it be any different just because it’s in a formalised situation?
Okay, obviously it’s important to impress when networking. But if you’re going to a networking event, you’ve probably done your prep - researched the firm, thought about what questions you want to ask etc. As long as you’re showing a genuine interest (which you obviously have - else why would you have turned up?) you can’t really go wrong.
The older I get the more I realise networking is really just having generic friendly conversations, except they’re ones which could reap professional benefits for you.
Go into each conversation with two goals - consider what information you want to gain from that person (is it something about their firm, or their personal career journey) and aim to form a connection with them. The latter of these does not always have to relate to law in my opinion.
You obviously want to find out about the firm and the career path, but there’s a lot of occasions where actually I think it’s fine to let the conversation deviate if it naturally leans towards something else.