But then comes another challenging question:
What’s okay to talk about?
Of course, it depends on the networking event or chat, but here are a few ideas to have up your sleeve when you head to your next legal networking event.
1. You Need an “Elevator Pitch” that Describes You
If you meet someone at an event, you want to have an elevator pitch about who you are and what you are looking for.
“I’m a recent graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law. I’m interested in criminal defense work. Do you know of anyone practicing criminal defense who might be willing to talk with me? I’d love to learn more about how they like working in the field.”
The pitch should describe a bit about who you are and — here is the critical part — what you are looking for! You must ask a question so someone can help you.
If you just say, “I am interested in criminal defense” and stop there, it is unlikely the person you are talking to will actually offer to help. You must ask for help. People like helping other people, at least most of the time.
2. If You Know Who You’re Meeting, Think of Questions Beforehand
If you are planning on meeting someone for coffee, or you are looking to connect with someone after you met at an event, you should brainstorm some questions or stuff you want to find out.
- Perhaps you are curious about her/his career path.
- Or about work/life balance issues.
- Or you may want help connecting with others.
Whatever it might be, you will benefit only by being a bit prepared. (Interested in some tips for informational interviewing? Check out this series on The Girl’s Guide to Law School.)
3. Think of a Few “Safe” Topics to Talk About
Religion and politics are likely off the table, so you want to think about topics that you can discuss at a networking event. Besides asking questions, you want to have a few stories up your sleeve that are helpful to share.
Personally, travel is always a safe topic to talk about for me. I enjoy it and I have a few fun and interesting stories to tell. In the fall, I often can start a conversation with, “Did you do any traveling this summer?” That can actually get you pretty far in a conversation.
If you have just taken the bar exam, you can always ask another lawyer about her/his bar experience or waiting for bar results. It is something that everyone has gone through, and most lawyers are happy to tell war stories about it.
But still, your best bet is to ask questions. Lawyers love to talk about themselves. And by asking questions, you will start an engaging conversation that will likely leave your new acquaintance with a pleasant memory of you.
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And check out these other helpful posts:
- Legal Networking 101: How Do You Know What to Talk About While Networking
- Legal Networking 101: A New Definition of Networking
- Legal Networking 101: Don’t Be an A**hole
- Legal Networking 101: Networking Today Isn’t Like the Networking of Yesterday
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