Networking For Shy Lawyers

Networking for Shy Lawyers

I’ve resurrected this post from three years ago because it is a timeless piece and one which needs to be addressed on a constant basis. Please bookmark, save the links to all the great articles and keep reviewing as you need to. The posts incorporated really get to the heart of why some network better than others and why you can do it too regardless your personality type. Also, links to daily online newspapers may no longer bring you to the news piece. I’ve cleaned up as best I can. Unfortunately, I have no control over articles more than three years old…so just move to the next link!)

You’ve been told over and over again the way to get connections in the profession, drum up business, is network, network, network. You know I’m right. And you know for some people it is just so easy. They jump out there, do it as naturally as breathing. Yet you are more introverted, less comfortable in group situations, don’t know how to break the ice or get with the ‘in crowd.’ Honestly, don’t worry. But the question remains: how do you work with what you are to be successful as a solo practitioner?

First, before you go labeling yourself introvert and extravert (yes, that is the correct spelling), understand the difference and then realize you are what you are and you’re not going to change:

I’m going by the definitions used by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to the MBTI, introverts get their energy from the internal world of ideas and images, and they feel drained if they spend too much time with people. On the other hand, extraverts (and yes, that IS the correct spelling as used in the MBTI) get their energy from the external world of people and things, and they go crazy if they spend too much time alone. It really has nothing to do with social skills, as evidenced by introverts like Jerry Seinfeld.

Whether you prefer the internal world or the external world, that preference is fixed. You can force yourself to act outside of your element, but an introvert can’t become an extravert and vice versa. (Pick the Brain)

So, how does one network if they are not an extravert? Are introverts disadvantaged as entrepreneurs in a profession which requires almost full throttle engagement?

If you feel you fall into the introverted category (and even if you don’t) here is a list of 17 great posts on networking for the shy which you need to take the time to read. It was compiled by The M.A.P. Maker:

How to network: For introverts

Personal marketing for the shy

Learn to love networking

How to network if you’re shy

Networking for introverts

Networking for the shy

Power networking for introverts: Tips & techniques

Networking for shy people

Tips for shy people who want to meet clients at networking events

Networking for the shy

The shy guy’s guide to networking

10 networking tips for shy entrepreneurs

Networking for the terminally shy

Business networking strategies for the shy

Job search techniques for shy executives

Skip Haley’s Networking Tips For Introverts

Beating Shyness In The Business World

In addition, I would recommend you absolutely read Endless Referrals by Bob Burg. It is a brilliant book which lays to rest once and for all that networking, building a sphere of influence and creating relationships (both professional and personal) are not just the province of extraverts. Whatever you choose to label yourself, you need to read this book.

So, if you consider yourself more introverted, how have you been networking to bring in clients? Please share.

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5 comments on “Networking For Shy Lawyers

  • I agree with Chris. I think the problem that more reticent people is that thinking about networking or relationship building is the stress that it can cause. I talk to new lawyers all of the time, and they just talk themselves out of not just meeting people, but even showing up at a meeting with people they do not know. But, I think it is the thought of mechanically pressing the flesh and trying to be extroverted that is the problem. That is not what they need to do, necessarily. In fact, I think it is the extroverted people that are inherently bad at this. They are too pushy and forceful. Too plastic and come across as self-serving. Join groups, associations and organizations because you want to be around people that think like you, that act like you, that you want to be like. Then just attend meetings, luncheons, etc. Then just sit reticently, if that is your style. You do not have to dominate or force a conversation. I think eventually it will just come naturally. I can tell you that when I sit down at a table for lunch with a bunch of bankruptcy attorneys I do not know, I rarely say anything, other than to ask if anybody else is sitting in the seat I find. Most often I do not have to introduce myself as someone will introduce themselves, then it will go around the table, and someone will ask what I do or want to do. Over time something will spur your interest, and you will just naturally join into the conversation. Then on future trips it is easier to greet people you have already met. This is especially true if quietly, and not face-to-face, you hunt down the contact information for those at the table and send them a short email, fax or letter simply saying it was nice to meet them. Forget about networking. It is like going to a movie. Just be yourself. Extroverted people try to rush it. Over time, you will just be among friends. At that point it is just enjoyable.

  • Chuck makes some great points. As an introvert, I don’t really consider myself to be “shy.” But I do hesitate to get out there among people because, as an introvert, I find it draining. There is where the problem lies, because if you don’t get out there you’re not meeting people. And if you’re not meeting people, you’re not building your network. But, as Chuck says, limiting your “out there” excursions to groups and organizations you genuinely find interesting helps a lot. And going with the expectation that you’ll not force yourself to behave in ways that are inconsistent with your personality (e.g., “working the room”) can reduce the stress for an introvert.

    I recommend reading The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney.

  • What a great resource for “shy” lawyers! Thanks for sharing. Often our clients claim they’re too busy to network, but the reality is that’s not the case. People feel busy because their lives are, of course, full, and they’re doing the things that are important to them. They don’t make time for networking because they’re afraid of being an imposition on other people or appearing needy or looking bad. They’re uncomfortable. And when you’re uncomfortable doing something, it’s easy to default to things that are comfortable. Time is the biggest complaint, but it’s not the real answer. The trick is to make networking comfortable, and then you’ll prioritize it in your busy life.

  • On the scale of the opposing preferences of Extravert and Introvert, I am an Introvert. On the continuum scale I fall in the middle between Introvert and the fulcrom in the middle of the continuum.

    Understanding this preference about myself has been extremely valuable for me because I’ve learned to “manage my energy” and make sure I take time to spend some time alone to “recharge my batteries.” This has proven to be very helpful for me and has even eliminated tension headaches I used to get that would land me in bed for 2 to 3 days at a time and no medication would alleviate.

    The way I handle networking, is I call on businesses and find out who the person is that makes decisions on my product. I leave that person a brochure and a few days later I call back and speak with the person and set up an appointment.

    Yes, doing what I call, “warm calling,” is a bit tiring for me, but it gives me a chance to call on businesses and you find out a lot about what is going on in your industry by actually being present in the business location.

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