Today’s memo comes from Nancy Cremins, a litigator/dispute resolver and employment lawyer at the law firm of Gesmer Updegrove, LLP in Boston. Cremin’s advice is to take advantage of holiday events to network, network, network.
Says Cremins, “As a professional, it is not just important, but essential that you attend networking events to assist with your career advancement. With the holidays approaching, there are lots of festive events on the calendar and you should approach good networking opportunities with the joy of Cindy Lou Who. However, for many young professionals—and for many seasoned ones as well—the idea of attending networking events causes much Grinchiness. People experience anxiety resulting from the following inner monologue: What if no one talks to me? How many people should I try to meet? What if I can’t think of anything to say? How do I get out of awkward conversations? It’s like the middle school dance all over again… I have a few tips that should make attending these holiday networking events result in your network, if not your heart, growing three sizes.
- Attend with an event buddy: If you don’t know anyone, having an event buddy who is also an accountability coach, is a good idea. You can both venture out into the crowd, have a safe space you can return to if your conversations aren’t going as well as planned, and have someone to make sure you are actually there meeting people, not just holding up the bar.
- Follow the Rule of 3: Have a goal of meeting three new people at each event so you don’t feel overwhelmed with the number of people in the room and, more importantly, so you can develop a few quality connections that you intend to follow up with instead of a host of “nice to meet yous” that you will never talk to again. I also recommend having thre topics of conversation to fall back on if you are struggling with conversation flow. Examples could include low key current events, sports, the weather, entertainment news – generally a topic that is likely widely known and relatively non-controversial. If you haven’t connected with the person after you have used up your three topics, move along because a meaningful connection probably isn’t going to happen.
- Pretend you are the host: If you imagine that the people at the event are in your house, it makes it easy to extend yourself to someone who is standing alone by the cheese plate. Acting as host puts you at ease and will allow you to extend yourself to strangers by acting as the gracious host, even if you are just as anxious as that person by the cheese plate.
Networking is a skill that takes practice, but these few tips should help make holiday networking a little more joyful.”
Nancy Cremins is a litigator/dispute resolver and employment lawyer at the law firm of Gesmer Updegrove, LLP in Boston, handling a broad range of matters encountered by entrepreneurs and startups. She is the immediate Past President of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, an organization committed to the full and equal participation of women in the legal profession and in a just society. She is a member of the inaugural Boston class of the Pipeline Fellows, which trains women to become angel investors. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Boston College and a law degree from Northeastern. She serves on the board of the Women’s Bar Association, the Northeastern School of Law Alumni Board, Prosperity Catalyst, and co-chairs the Website and Technology Working Group on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. Nancy is also the mom of 2 children, ages 4 & 2.