Networking Basics: Part II
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
This is Part 2 of a 3-Part post on Networking. You can find Part 1 further down this page. _________
Part 2: A TECHNIQUE, AND A STORY
A TECHNIQUE. I wanted to share a technique I use to start my networking connections.
A. I was invited on LinkedIn to a Zoom happy hour for "food and beverage attorneys." I had never heard of this group before, or any of the would-be participants. I decided to go because I thought it would be interesting to meet other attorneys that practice in spaces similar to mine.
B. As soon as the Happy Hour started, I took a screenshot of the Zoom page to make sure I don't forget anyone's name or face later.
C. I then opened a small note on the side of my screen, and started jotting down hints, keywords, or interesting things that each participants said. (This is the beginning of the note, I added details as the Happy Hour went on.)
D. Next day, I added each participant on LinkedIn; and in my add message, I weaved in both (1) an interesting thing I had said (like, that I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt), and (2) an interesting thing they had said (like, they love dogs). That way I'm helping the other person form mental image of me too.
E. Over the next few weeks and months, I make a conscious effort to like or comment on any posts from these new contacts that I see on my feed, both to show support, and to cement in both our minds who the other person is.
F. Now, this becomes the seed for a tree that can continue to grow over time, and you can pick a fruit from it later when/if you need to. I like the tree/fruit analogy because it captures both the "duration" and "timing" of a networking relationship: Just like a real tree, this tree may have fruit every once in a while (seasonally). There will be times when you need a fruit, but the tree won't have any; or times when the tree has lots of fruit, but you don't need any. THE KEY IS TO HAVE AS MANY TREES AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT YOU CAN FIND SOME FRUIT WHEN YOU NEED IT.
G. Do all of this with the attitude of curiosity and friendship -- bottom line, each person you come across is likely very interesting and accomplished. I don't expect anything to come from adding these participants; I just want to be their friend and support them however I can.
A STORY. When I was in BigLaw, I used to receive unsolicited emails all the time from entrepreneurs or small businesses asking for "free" representation, all of them promising to pay back 10x when their ideas or companies became the next Facebook or Google.
Each email had the same general form, and obviously was a copy/paste mass email to many attorneys -- with just my name plopped at the top. I never responded.
Until one day I received an email that started like this: "Dear Mr. Assareh, I see from your profile that you are a huge soccer fan. I'm a huge soccer fan too (Liverpool is my team!). I'm co-founding a soccer data analytics start-up and I want to partner with an attorney who cares about soccer."
Needless to say, the soccer nerd in me immediately caught on fire! Not only did I respond, but the inquiry prompted me to send an RFI (request for information) to my entire firm to see if any colleagues had experience representing soccer/sports clients before. Many colleagues, from various global offices, partners and associates alike, responded. I got to meet new colleagues in my own firm I had never met before. All of us connected on soccer (because they were soccer nerds, too). With the power of these new connections, I convinced my firm's management to allow me to represent this new client pro bono, up to a cap of $50,000. Through all the soccer fan colleagues I met, we set up a soccer team for my firm. I met even more new people through that. I'm no longer at the firm, but that client is now a paying client of the firm; the soccer team is still intact (on pause of course right now); and my connections through both that client and the soccer team continue to grow.
Law students and young lawyers, and all networking "requesters": SHATTER THE NOTION THAT YOU HAVE NOTHING TO GIVE! With one targeted email, this client gave so much to me: excitement, new contacts at work, experience in negotiating with my firm's management, a new soccer team, the prestige of bringing a (ultimately) paying client; and most importantly, new friends.
WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING VERY POWERFUL TO GIVE: CARE. Listening to others, and caring about what they do, and are passionate about -- we can all do that.
In Part 3, I will ask more experienced practitioners for their tips and techniques in managing their time/networking energy, and the most effective ways to grow your network in a smart way (and not just in numbers).