Put a Personal Touch on Professional Networking

Daris B. Jackson
In our quest to redefine networking, a great place to start is with our base—with those we consider to be our “circle.”

In our quest to redefine networking, a great place to start is with our base—with those we consider to be our “circle.”

Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision via GettyImages

If you are a practicing attorney in today’s legal market, you can attest to the difficulties attorneys face in the networking process. Traditional networking opportunities—the large gathering where business cards are exchanged over cocktails—have proven to be an unrewarding exercise, at best. Many times, young lawyers find themselves at events thinking, “What now?” Surprisingly, the answer to that question for many lies outside of the gathering. 

In our quest to redefine networking, a great place to start is with our base—with those we consider to be our “circle.” Those we share our triumphs and pitfalls with are often uniquely positioned to consider our abilities when opportunities arise. Take a step back and ask yourself: “Why do I expect a complete stranger to have the ability or desire to invest in my success?” While we may have successful encounters with strangers, an introduction will certainly fare better than a random encounter. Find someone who can introduce you with a purpose and simultaneously impress upon those being introduced, the potential for mutual benefit, thus organically growing “circles.”

This idea may seem foreign in our careers Without question, we leverage personal relationships every day, for a myriad of reasons, be they social, familial, or political. However, leveraging these relationships can lead to great success in our legal careers, both for ourselves and those in our networks. Keep the following takeaways in mind as you leverage personal relationships to maximize your networking:

  1. Those with whom we share personal relationships are uniquely positioned to advocate for us based on their knowledge of our skill sets and our professional goals.
  2. We are uniquely positioned to advocate for those in our personal networks because we understand their skill sets and their goals.
  3. Networking does NOT happen in isolation—rather, networking is a give and take.
  4. Personal and professional growth go hand in hand, and both personal development and professional development have a significant impact on the other.
  5. Networking can seem inorganic when the personal element is removed.
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Daris B. Jackson is a New York–based attorney who serves as an adjunct assistant professor of criminal justice at The Borough of Manhattan Community College of The City University of New York, and as an administrative law judge and hearing officer for The City of New York.