adventures in networking, be a better lawyer podcast, how to be a better lawyer, how to network, Dina Cataldo, networking for lawyers, networking

#220: Adventures in Networking

How do you feel when you hear the word “networking?”

If you're anything like me, you want to avoid anything has to do with networking.

What if I asked you if you wanted to get to know some people?

A little better?

When I changed how I framed networking, I learned that networking could actually be fun.

In this episode, you'll:

  • learn what it really means to network
  • hear a few of my recent adventures in networking
  • get a simple process you can use to meet more people

Networking doesn't have to feel like a chore.

Listen in, and I'll show you how to make it fun.


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Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

Well, hello. How are you doing? Let's talk about some adventures in networking, shall we?

If you are anything like me, you might have some thoughts about the word networking. And I want you to think about networking totally differently. I don't want you to even call it networking. If you have any associations that feel icky or bad or anything like that, I want you to call it, getting to know people because in our society and as lawyers in particular, right?

How We Talk About Networking Matters

The way we talk about networking, and networking takes on this larger than life presence. It feels hard. What I'm learning and what I'm gonna share with you in this episode is that networking can be easy and it can even be fun, which is something that I hadn't really allowed my brain to get around.

I looked at it as hard as it was an obligation. I didn't wanna feel weird. It was very uncomfortable. And I know that it can be easier because of my experiences and because this is something that you want to do in your life.

Presumably, if you're building your book of business, if you're looking for a new position, whatever it is, you wanna have connections. You wanna get to know people. And that's exactly what this episode is gonna put you in the position to do in a much easier way before we get started.

I wanna give some shoutouts.

My Adventures in Networking

Okay. So there were a few places recently where I made some new connections and those connections have felt really easy. And I know that that is not always the case for some organizations, but I also know that some places are doing a fab, fabulous job, helping one another, grow their books of business, grow their connections.

California Women Lawyers

So the first group that I wanna give a shout out to is California women lawyers, and they're online coffee chats.

I went to one recently and it was really nice. And I got to know people, and this is something that you can do too. You can find these organizations that are just groups of people that have similar interests and you can sign up for their email list. If you're interested in California, women lawyers, they're also having a dinner in Oakland in the near future.

It's at the beginning of September, so I'm gonna link to that. I'm gonna be there, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

McGeorge School of Law

I also wanna give a shout out to my law school, McGeorge school of law. It's part of University of the Pacific. And I went to a live event recently for McGeorge and it was fabulous. I went there and of course, you know, your law school probably does something similar. If you go to a networking event, there's tons of food. There's like an open bar. I mean, it's, it's made to be very pleasant and inviting. And I bumped into a couple law school friends, and I bumped into someone who was an old colleague, great Thomas. So if there's a colleague or Ray, if you're listening, shout out to you, I wanted to go there and meet new people. But the great thing is, is that you can also meet people who you haven't talked to in a while.

It turned out that my friends had, of course, their friends and they have connections and then they have connections with other people. And so you get to meet more and more people. So this is something that is very easy to do, and it's just gonna flow. When you show up, you just have to show up. And I also wanna give a shout out to LinkedIn <laugh> because they make it really easy to give value, right? Like I I'll have posts on LinkedIn. You can follow me there. I'm under Dina Cataldo, If you wanna follow me. And it's really easy to see people who have similar interests and just take an interest in those other people and what they're interested in. And it's very easy to see, okay, “This is a lawyer who's interested in lawyer wellness. How can I help them further their goal?”

How to Talk Like a Human at Networking Events

I'm not selling anything. I'm not saying, “Hey, I'm a coach. I can help you.” I'm not doing any of that. It's me recognizing what they're interested in and seeing how I can further what they need.

I'm gonna talk to you more about that as this episode goes on, because networking isn't about selling.

Ultimately you're gonna grow your business from networking. It's, it's just something that happens and it's a compound effect. But what it's about is getting to know people and forming connections in a really organic way. That feels really good. At least that's how I'm framing it.

And that framework is helping me. I'm hoping it helps you too, because this is a really valuable skill to learn.

I've always felt other people have been really good at it, and I haven't been really good at it. And so this is something that I'm learning, but I'm also seeing immediate results as I just show up and get to know people.

The interesting thing is, all my thoughts or insecurities about, you know, what I do or who I am or who I, whatever it have insecurities too…we all do…when we show up and we tell people who we are and what we do. It's really interesting to see other people's reactions.

I was actually the most interesting person in some circles to other people. I was like, like, “Whoa, these people are really interested in coaching. I was just telling them like, oh, what do you do? And I say, oh, I'm a coach, coach lawyers. And they get really interested. And so unless you show up and tell people what you do, no one can get interested. So that's an important thing to know is just showing up is like 99% of what networking is about. Okay.

A Networking Process You Can Follow

So here is a general process that I wanna offer to you that has been working for me, that you can take and shape, however you like.

It's something that can give you some structure around networking.

I'm also gonna link to a few episodes in the show notes, because in order to do the hard things, there's some mental shifts that you will need to make. I have a couple podcasts in there that will help you with that. All right.

What's the End Result You Want?

So first in this process, ask yourself what the end result is that you want.

For me, it's getting to know more people and having more people know me. It's as simple as that. I'm not selling anything to anyone. Do I want more clients? Do I want to help more people? Of course, right? Like that is a no brainer. I run a business. But networking is really just putting you on someone's radar. It's not about taking your — let's say you are a litigator — and you are taking your knowledge about a specific topic and you're looking for people that you can sell to so you can grow your book of business.

Like, “Who needs my services right now?” That's not what you're doing. You're not like looking around the room, trying to home in on anybody. You're just walking in and saying, “Oh, hi, how are you doing? What do you do? Oh, that's really interesting. How did you get into that?” You're just asking questions, like a normal human being.

You're not going in there with an agenda to sell anything. You're just going in and getting curious.

So just ask yourself, what is the purpose that you're going in on for this is it to like sell people like, “Hey, you, you need to, to be in my book of business, you need this, you need this.” No, I mean, I'm gonna offer to you that that's not the <laugh>, that's not such a great way to go into it.

If you look at it more as like, my goal is really just to get to know people, my goal is really learning about people and getting on people's radars. I think you're going to enjoy the process better. It's really easy to say hi to someone and ask some questions. And we do it all the time.

I mean, I don't even tell people what I do unless they ask me, like, it's not even important. It's not even on my radar that I need to tell them what I do. Okay. I'm there just to listen and to get to know them. All right.

What Kind of Networking Activities Do You Want to Do?

The next part of this process that I will offer to you is really helpful is asking yourself, what avenues do you want to take in networking? So for me, I am willing to do live events. I'm willing to do virtual events.

And then I also, you know, text people, right? Like I got this from, this is like a collection of different ideas. I've looked into over the years about how to network. And really part of networking is staying in touch with old colleagues and old friends. So like go to the bottom of your text messages and take 15 minutes a day and just text somebody and be like, Hey, how are you doing? Like, what are you up to haven't heard from, or I haven't talked to you in a while, like, what's going on with you. I'm really curious, right? Like, just take some time to show some curiosity and interest about some of your old colleagues and then let it flow organically. From there. You really just want to be forming connections. You can also do this with your emails, right? You go into your old emails, who haven't I talk to in a while, who do I wanna touch base with?

And just talk to them, be interested. Same thing with LinkedIn, you have colleagues on LinkedIn. Maybe you haven't chatted with them for a while. Message them, ask them how they're doing. Like that's what this is doing. It's reconnecting us with a network that we already have, or are very close to. And we just didn't even know it.

How Much Time do You Want to Invest?

So you just have to show up and then do it and then ask yourself how much time a day are you willing to devote to it? It could be 15 minutes. It could be an hour, whatever it is you wanna do, you can do that. Doesn't matter. It doesn't have to take a long time. It doesn't have to be arduous. It doesn't, you know, like the, one of the thoughts that I hear sometimes is is that it's gonna take a long time. I don't wanna go to long events.

I don't wanna feel obligated. Well, what do you want? What do you want for yourself? What do you want for your business? Do you want to feel connected to more people I'll offer to you just taking 15 minutes a day to maybe text some old colleagues or message them or just connect in some way is gonna be really easy and it's gonna help you feel much more connected. I know just doing this over a short period of time, that I feel much more connected, and this is especially true. If you're working from home, what a great way for you to begin reconnecting with other people.

How to Give

The next part of this process is giving, okay. Notice how I haven't said anything about you need to be selling anything to anybody. Okay. That is not the point of this. We're building connections. We're getting on people's radar.

So they know that we exist in the world and then we're offering to help them the whole point of us connecting with other people. Well, I don't know if it's the whole point, but a big part of it is getting really curious about what they are interested in. Because once you know what you're interested in or what they're interested in, then you can offer to help them. And that could be really as simple as saying, “Oh, you know what? I know somebody who does that, are you interested in knowing them?”

Or it could be like, oh, you know, “I read this really great article about that. I I'm gonna send it to you.” What's your email address? Right? Like, those are the kinds of things that I'm talking about. I mean, this was really interesting for me because I went into the McGeorge event recently and just going in just to get to know people say hi, you know, like, oh, I bumped into some people and we started chatting and then I was chatting with one of my friends and he happened to know the Dean, the Dean came over and was chatting with him and I was there.

And then the Dean turned to me and asked me what I did. And I told him, I coached lawyers. And he said, oh my gosh, that's so amazing. Like, where do you find your clients? And I said, well, I have a podcast and I have social media presence. And he was like, okay, hold on a second. I have this amazing social media team. Let me get them and I'm gonna bring him here. So he actually went out of his way, grabbed his social media team, brought them over. Right.

And these two lovely ladies, I chatted with them for a little bit. And they, you know, got my information. And the reason that that is so important is because just showing up and being around people who are also in the state of giving creates these connections. Okay. It turns out that McGeorge has this social media presence where they will email the subscribers to their list, podcasts and blogs that are made by alumni <laugh>.

And it was just like, oh, I hadn't even thought about that. Right. But when you get into these groups of people, right, this Dean in particular is amazing, right? He's very much a connector, very much wants to help people big shout out to, to Dean Schwartz. But this was just something that I just was there for. Like, I didn't do anything I just showed up. So just know that this can be very easy. Okay.

The Power of Networking

And there was another conversation that I had at the McGeorge event that is gonna illustrate the power of just showing up and being curious about people. So the Dean had talked about in his speech and I know this happened like last year, there was a 25 million gift made to McGeorge. And I know that those things don't happen in a vacuum. And I was really curious, like, how did that even come about?

What were the conversations, note how my brain went, my brain went to not for what he could do do for me. <Laugh> but it went to like, that's really interesting, like what, what happened there? It got curious. And so I asked him a question about this 25 million donation, and it was, it's made by Robert and Tracy Egret. And I'm gonna link to the article that explains how that went down so that, you know, if you're interested in it.

But I asked him what were the conversations that were had before these people, these amazing people decided to just donate 25 million to the school. And it came down to networking. Hey, he told this story about how he was in Nevada. And he was having a conversation with Robert ere and he was hearing everything that he was really unhappy about, about his law school experience and what he wished was different and what his life experiences were and who he was interested in helping.

And no decision of course was made at that point. Right. You know, the Dean wasn't asking him for anything. It was a conversation. And so the Dean had this in his mind, like this is something that this alum is really interested in and really wants to make a difference in the world with how can I, you know, combine like what it is that he wants and make that impact. So he was thinking about how can I structure something that will help him make the impact that he wants to make on the legal system of the law schools.

The donors concerns were that he wanted low income people of color who were first generation law students to have access to a first class legal education without the burden of debt, following them so that they could actually choose something out, you know, in the legal field that they're interested in, instead of being, you know, forced to do something that's high paying legal work, that may not be what they are particularly interested in.

And so months later, after that conversation, the Dean had a thought about how he could serve their interests and texted Robert. He texted him, right? And then he got a text back, presumably, right. And then many months later there was another conversation about how this donation might be structured. So this wasn't something where it was like anybody was going into the conversation saying, I want this. It's like, no, it was just a conversation.

It was a conversation where people were curious where the Dean was curious about what Robert Egret was interested in, right? That's what it took to create this amazing donation. That's gonna impact hundreds. If not thousands of legal students over the course of their lives, it's gonna impact the legal system in ways we can't even imagine because they showed up and they had a conversation and they were curious about what each other wanted.

Amazing, right? That's the power of networking. That's the power of being curious and connecting with people, listening, keeping the other person's interest in mind, offering to help where you can, and I'll offer that you not think about networking as asking for anything, or even building your book of business.

Just listen, be curious about what the other person wants and make offers to help where you can.

Now this episode is by no means the be all end all when it comes to networking, but these are some of the experiences I've been going through. And I wanted to share them with you because I know that these are very actionable tips. I know that, you know, a lot of my clients have the same thoughts. That networking feels weird. That it's awkward. That it's something that they don't wanna do. They feel a little icky about it.

And I wanted to share with you that it doesn't have to be that way. And that made me think of a client I was talking to not too long ago about networking. And one of the things that she realized is that networking could be easy. And the reason she came to that conclusion is because she was at a concert and she was there with a lawyer. And she said, this actually can be fun. Like I could go to a concert, have conversations with an old colleague, old friend. And that is really what networking is all about. And if you think about it, that's consistent with everything that I've said. It's about showing up, putting yourself on somebody else's radar, asking what they need, being curious about what they're interested in and then offering to help them. And if they, and you have interests that combine awesome.

But if you go into the conversation asking yourself, what can I get from this conversation? You're gonna have a horrible time. It's gonna feel icky and you're not gonna have fun. Okay. <laugh> now, if you want help building your book of business, making your life a hundred percent easier in your practice and feeling really good about marketing to your people. Book a call with me. I help my clients with this. It's not necessarily networking. A lot of times what it is is managing their time in such a way where they're more effective doing things that they're already doing, because they're spreading themselves so thin. And they're spending so much time on things that are not impactful in their practice, that they can't really focus their attention in a way that they're getting the results that they want. And if this is something that interests you book a call with me, you can go to

Your life can be so much easier.

And what I've realized with the power of coaching is that I can always make my life easier. And I'll give you an example of this right now. I'm restructuring how I'm spending my time to generate even more value in my business and value for me is creating this podcast. It's, you know, networking, putting myself on people's radar, helping other people who are on my radar. Now it is doing things like my posts on LinkedIn, on Instagram, on having really thoughtful posts on LinkedIn, like thoughtful responses. I know sometimes people respond on LinkedIn and they're pretty quick, but like, I am really interested in how I can help further the conversation on that post. And it's so much more fun when I do it that way. Like, I don't wanna just go in and like jump in and jump out, which is really tempting to do if you're in a hurry.

But if you structure your time in a way where you're intentionally focusing your time on networking, on creating content for your business on, you know, whatever it is like recently I was coming up with this idea about Cleo. So if you're not familiar with Cleo, which you're lawyer, so you, you probably are, if you, especially if you're civil, but you Cleo's having a conference in Nashville in October. And I was thinking like, I was gonna be there already. And I was thinking like, how can I create value in that space? I wasn't thinking about how can I sell, right? Like, that's, that's what I think a lot of us think of when we think about network working or building our book of business, we're thinking, how can I sell? And I wasn't thinking that I was thinking, how can I generate lots? And lots of value.

One is just by showing up, okay, we've established that you just show up and you get on people's radars. But for me, it was like, okay, how do I do that in a way that is gonna generate more value? And for me, that was booking a booth at Cleo. And so I'm gonna have a booth there. It's gonna be a lot of fun. I've been thinking about all these great ideas for like swag and like having conversations with people and maybe even bringing them on the podcast. You know, I could do like live episodes there, maybe having like a mini training there while I'm at at Nashville at Cleo. And there's just so much room for fun and experimentation there when you're just willing to show up and do things that put you outside of your comfort zone. And there's so much opportunity to create value in the marketplace with that.

And that is how you start growing your business is by putting value into the marketplace. So if you're unhappy in the direction that your practice is going, or you wanna build a new arm of your practice, or you want to build your practice faster. Right. But do it in a way where you're not adding overwhelm book a call with me because there's so many different avenues to do this. It takes thinking outside of the box though, and doing things differently than you've ever done them before. All right, my friend, I hope you have a great rest of your week and I will talk to you soon. Bye.

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