Networking for Lawyers Who Hate Networking

Part 3 in the Looming Lawyer Layoffs series.

As I’ve pointed out before, most lawyers tend toward introversion, among other personality characteristics. One thing that introverts really despise is having to talk to people all damn day. And the prospect of networking is petrifying to some introverts.

I know, because I am one of those introverts. I need my alone time nearly as much as oxygen. I’m not crazy about weeks like this one, where I’ll be on the phone a lot, interviewing people for an assignment.

So how can introverts get comfortable with networking? First, don’t take it too seriously. And, be grateful for the internet.

When you treat networking as a job-or-death endeavor, you’ll suck at it. There’s just too much at stake, and even the tiniest misstep feels like the end of the world. Plus, even though career counselors push networking and informational interviews like crack dealers, I’m not convinced the type of networking most of them advocate really works for those who are not natural hail-fellow-well-met types.

The best networking — the kind that yields contacts who can help you out — comes from people you know and like already. That’s not to say that you can’t make new, useful connections as you search, but that trying to meet Ms. or Mr. Important through a friend of a friend of a colleague of a colleague is fraught with potential failure.

That’s one reason I really like LinkedIn. Haven’t heard of it? It’s a social networking site for professionals. Actually, it’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon on steroids. The nifty LinkedIn software takes some basic information you enter, as much or as little as you like, and figures out who you know that you don’t know you know. For example, my current network stats say I have roughly 1,300 2nd degree (friends of friends) connections. Kind of staggering, isn’t it? Because that 1,300 number is based on 24 direct connections (my friends and acquaintances).

I haven’t taken the plunge yet and upgraded my LinkedIn membership (basic membership is free). But if you’re embarking on a job quest, it’s probably worth it. Paying for the next level of membership entitles you to request introductions (i.e., send more emails to people in your network you don’t know personally), plus get more information on people in your network. (Don’t freak out, you control who can see what kind of info people see about you; there’s tons of privacy protection.)

While eventually you need to actually speak to people, the beauty of LinkedIn is that you don’t have to make those horrid, stuttering cold calls to potential contacts. Email rejection just doesn’t feel as personal — and it allows you to be braver than you might otherwise be.

Give it a whirl. It won’t hurt a bit.


  1. i am very much interested in joining a lawyer networking association. i have just been called to the bar as an advocate in training.thanks

  2. I love networking and one reason for being a lawyer is I love people and meeting new people every day. But no law school finds my LSAT competitive and my GPA is so damn average. 😦 But I know I would make a fine lawyer. Too bad for the legal profession. I would be a *real* talent.

  3. If you are after a profession where you get to meet people, please for the sake of all things holy consider something besides law. Most of the work lawyers do is done alone, in front of the computer or just plain inside their head. You don’t write memos with other people, research a project with other people, draft motions with other people, etc. You may consult with other people about the contents of memos, briefs, deal drafts, employment policies, etc. etc., but 90% of the work is in your head. Even trial lawyers and prosecutors/criminal defense attorneys, who get the most time in the courtroom interacting with witnesses, do a high percentage of their work alone, as well. If you really like legal issues but want lots of people contact, why not something legislative? Or if you like writing, what about journalism? You get to meet and talk to people all damn day as a journalist, and then write about it. Having done both law and journalism, I can tell you that journalists spend about 40% of their time talking to sources.

  4. Advice sought on the best way to get Lawyers respect? I am being interviewed shortly to be a Financial Adviser focussing specifically on the Legal Profession.

    I have many years experience in my own profession but wanting to get some hints and tips on the best way to introduce myself and the types of networking opportunities there could be?

    I would very much appreciate any advice, the role itself will be advising lawyers on their personal and business protection/investments needs.

    Thank you

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