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Networking isn't just for job-seekers. In-house counsel can also benefit by making connections that can work for your daily practice in more ways than one.
For example, you can network with in-house counsel at other companies to share ideas and talk shop. You can also use networking to reinforce ties with your company's non-legal employees, so they'll feel comfortable coming to you when legal issues arise.
There are so many tips out there about how to make networking work. Here are some tips that in-house counsel may find particularly helpful:
Put down your smartphone.
Yes, personal communication devices are convenient, but they can get in the way of one-on-one, in-person interaction. Instead of keeping your head buried in your BlackBerry, look up and talk to the people around you, marketing expert Hank Blank suggests in a FindLaw Practice Management article.
This goes for the lunch line at your office cafeteria, and outside the office as well. Who knows, your friendly coffeeshop barista could be related to a high-ranking executive, and that connection may someday pay off.
Arrive early and mingle at networking events.
Don't show up right as a networking event begins. Instead, arrive early and peruse the name badges to see who's coming, Blank suggests. Have business cards readily available to hand out to the VIPs you want to connect with. And don't mingle with your friends -- there's a difference between networking and socializing, Blank says.
Actually, your position as in-house counsel may make you a star attraction at a networking event. If that happens, make sure you listen to what others are saying, and don't dominate your conversations.
Follow up and use social networking tools.
After you make a new networking connection, follow up within 48 hours, by email or by phone, one British solicitor recommends. The advice applies on this side of the pond as well.
Social media tools are making this aspect of networking much easier. You can even set up Google alerts about some of the more noteworthy people you meet, so when something big happens in their careers, you can congratulate them, a legal networking expert told the Chicago Tribune.