You need several key attributes to get the most out of a networking event like the Legal Sector Advisors and Suppliers conference. I spent a happy and very productive two days in September with the UK’s leading legal sector suppliers in the gorgeous setting of Ardencote Manor. The days were happy and productive because I was ready with networking powers primed and ready. There’s the obvious requirement for a cast iron constitution. The ability to remain coherent and to retain information after being plied with intoxicating slides and copious quantities of strong information.
There’s a need for a fast recovery…from the brain pain induced by constant intelligent discussion and from the dryness of mouth associated with ceaseless intellectual chatter.
On a more physically demanding note, there’s an essential element of grace and movement when negotiating the pulsating groups and knots of experts, clustered and cloistered. A swerve here. A nod and a smile there. Noting key contacts and performing a polite gentlemen’s excuse me, insinuating yourself into a group and immediately finding their rhythm.
The thing is, networking events of any sort involve perseverance, mobility, information retention and crucially action. Be prepared to politely move on from a conversation that is less relevant, but also remember at such events it is often when you stop talking shop and start just chatting that the conversation develops and relationships are formed based on far more than simply “what’s in it for me to talk with you”?
Following up on the discussions after an event is also key…it’s amazing how easy it is to just leave the event and the exciting discussions behind you, as you move onto the next gathering, or get embroiled in the day job as you emerge from the conference bubble to the mound of emails and daily grind. Try to be a little picky about follow up meetings, after all not everyone with whom you meet and share laughter and wine is a priority for action. But remember that even a meeting which is simply fun and a sharing of sector gossip can have value.
You can go to the best networking event or conference on the planet and if you don’t fully engage and follow up you’ve wasted your money and your time. Oh, and be sure to take paracetamol and Lucozade to deal with the hangovers.
Alex Holt, The Cashroom