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How to "network" at work related conferences

Hey guys, This sounds like a stupid question but I am an rising1l06/04/18
I don't think it's feasible at isolated conferences. Possibl junkwired06/04/18
Pro tip: Smoke Serious, there's always a group of smokers superttthero06/05/18
I disagree with supert. I am often envious of smoker circle jd4hire06/05/18
Love what you said. totally agree! monroeroeroe06/05/18
Networking as an in house counsel is easy mode because peopl 2breedbares06/05/18
Just say whatever you feel like, within reason. You know th maverick06/05/18
Conferences are an excuse to drink, if you meet interesting trollfeeder06/05/18
Get the book, How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Bi thirdtierlaw06/05/18
rising1l (Jun 4, 2018 - 9:37 pm)

Hey guys,

This sounds like a stupid question but I am an introvert and also a bit socially awkward. I spent 3-4 years working in biglaw (left because no hope of me generating enough business to make partner) and I currently work inhouse at a corporation. My work is paying for me to attend an industry related conference (not in the city i work in) and I wanted to get some tips on how to network properly. I've always been a bit socially awkward and my biggest problem is often the icebreaker in the following settings: (a) bar/open floor setting and (b) classroom setting prior to the start of each seminar.

Below are my goals:
1. meet interesting people at the conference to stay in touch with and potentially bounce work related ideas off of them and vice versa
2. potentially network for a future job in 2-3 years
3. meet new friends (talk about non industry stuff)

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junkwired (Jun 4, 2018 - 10:26 pm)

I don't think it's feasible at isolated conferences. Possible but unlikely. The best way to network in a way that'll result in fruitful relationships is to be a regular at subject specific events. I.e., if you do X law, go to all the X law meetings. This way, you'll meet many of the same people and over time build rapport.

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superttthero (Jun 5, 2018 - 7:33 am)

Pro tip: Smoke

Serious, there's always a group of smokers somewhere. They really open up in those smoker circles. I generally don't smoke, only when out drinking socially and someone else is smoking and gives me a few, but one time my firm sent me to a conference with our head Relativity Tech, who smoked. I went with him when he went on his smoking breaks and I'll you, in those smoking groups, the ice was already broken.

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jd4hire (Jun 5, 2018 - 11:44 am)

I disagree with supert. I am often envious of smoker circles, but there is a real stigma imposed by some on smoking. Further, the smoker's circle at my law school included some really weird dudes (actually, the guy that always wore a duster just got arrested for embezzling funds now that I think about it) that I wouldn't want to associate with.

Key to networking is getting the other person to start talking about themselves and then essentially keep asking follow up questions which shows your listening. As ice breakers, go for "where are you from," "what company do you work for," "have you always been in house," etc. If the person looks at you crazy, move on. You should also identify issues you all deal with given it is an industry conference - "so, about those looming TPS reports, god I can't stand those. How do you handle them?"

It's also important to regulate time spent with people. The goal is a high number of meaningful interactions. Not one person that you speak with for four hours or 200 people you said hi to.

If the stars align, a night of debauchery can forge a strong bond.

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monroeroeroe (Jun 5, 2018 - 2:29 pm)

Love what you said. totally agree!

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2breedbares (Jun 5, 2018 - 4:17 pm)

Networking as an in house counsel is easy mode because people want your business. Networking is just smoking and joking (not literally smoking if you don't want to). Be friendly, warm, ask people about their lives outside of work, etc.

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maverick (Jun 5, 2018 - 5:28 pm)

Just say whatever you feel like, within reason. You know the lines, it’s becoming very clear now. I am with you, small talk is boring and tedious. It’s not social awkwardness, it’s just low tolerance for BS.

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trollfeeder (Jun 5, 2018 - 7:03 pm)

Conferences are an excuse to drink, if you meet interesting people that you want to do business with, bonus.

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 5, 2018 - 7:32 pm)

Get the book, How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes.

So of it will make you roll your eyes and some parts seem corny, but if you internalize some of the strategies, you'll be blown away. I hate small talk and I'm overall a pretty reserved person, but I've never had trouble networking and books like this one is one of those reasons.

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