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Networking Tips for Lawyers: The Art of Schmoozing


Schmoozing is an art, and in this challenging job market, attorneys and law students have no choice but to become Picassos of networking. The New York City Bar’s Law Student Perspectives Committee was recently doling out networking “paint brushes” at its event The Art of Schmoozing. Moderated by Rosevony Duroseay, Employer Relations Specialist & Career Counselor at CUNY School of Law, the event was filled with law students and practicing attorneys eager to learn networking tips. The event’s panelists included,

• Diane Costigan - Managing Director, Shannon & Manch, L.L.P.
• Paula Edgar – Associate Director of Career Services, Seton Hall University School of Law & Owner and Principal, PGE LLC
• Nathan Sheffield - Associate, Davidoff Malito & Hutcher, LLP
• Margret Surovell – Teacher of verbal presentation skills (Ms. Surovell teaches voice and speech at New York School of Film and Television, The Studio New York and ACTeen).

Entertaining and interesting, the panel was chock full of practical networking tips ranging from breaking the ice, preparation, appearance and connecting. Below are some of the key takeaways from the event.

Ice Breaking
• Ask open-ended questions, which will give you chances to follow-up and continue the conversation.
• Jump into group conversations, but avoid groups of only two people.
• Get there early and leave later. You’ll have increased opportunities to speak to panelists and other people of interest.

• Determine your networking objectives and what kind of schmoozing you should do to meet those goals.
• Do your research on potential contacts (don’t ask them questions that you could’ve researched yourself), and use the information you researched to start and/or guide conversations.
• For events, prepare several sentences on your strengths and goals that you can use in conversation.

• Understand the type of event you’re attending to gauge the dress code, but if you’re not sure what to wear, lean toward formal attire like suits. Also make sure you’re comfortable in your clothing choice, which will boost confidence.
• Don’t use networking events as opportunities for fashion statements—the focus should be on you, not your appearance.

• Don’t be afraid of social media. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for networking, and the panelists agreed that it’s a “must.” Likewise, Twitter is a great place to make connections.
• Following up with new contacts is crucial, but don’t overwhelm them with emails and calls.
• After you meet some one, record your impressions and facts about the person on his or her business card so you can easily remember what you learned.

The bottom line when it comes to networking is that you need to put yourself out there. As Mr. Sheffield put it, “your fear has to be conquered by doing it.” I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t easy to approach strangers, and even once you make the initial connection, you have to be patient as the relationship develops. But building your career is all about the right opportunities, and you never know what options a carefully developed, diverse network can yield.

New York City Bar Committee on Law Student Perspectives

Read More:
Networking with Fellow Law Students
Networking 101 with Law School Podcaster


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