Schmooze and you Won’t Lose

During law school I attended several information sessions that were meant to help me find a job after graduation. What resonated with me was the importance these sessions placed on networking. As a nerdy adolescent, I had always struggled with making friends in school. I was never the type to just walk up to a group of people, wedge myself in, and say something clever or charming. I remember envisioning myself in made-up scenarios where I wound up standing alone in a corner among a room bustling with confident lawyers.

Now, to be fair, law school does prepare you for future networking events both by providing tips on how to interact but also hosting a few networking events on campus. My law school held numerous wine and cheeses with local firms and even hosted some of our very own Supreme Court Justices. While I attended and did my best at “schmoozing,” I still did not quite grasp what I was getting out of it (well, besides a selfie with then Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin).

It was only until after law school that I understood the power of networking and the importance of widening my social circle.  I recently found a great job opportunity here with Andriessen and Associates and it’s all due to the power of networking!

Back in early May of this year, while I was still eagerly searching for a position to satisfy my professional interests, I was contacted by a colleague for a favour. She had agreed to act as a panel judge for a high school regional mock trial, but had a professional situation arise the day before the event. She asked whether I could go in her place. Due to the time sensitive nature of the request, I asked her to give me 30 minutes to decide. I weighed my insecurities as a lawyer only one and a half years post call. How could I possibly preside over these, likely very earnest, high schoolers? I thought about the more senior lawyers who would also be volunteering their time and feared sounding like a fool in front of these well-seasoned professionals.

Much to my (now) relief, I chose to set my insecurities aside and come out of my comfort zone. I thoroughly enjoyed the event, loved speaking to the students about my experiences, and gave out tips on law school applications. I even spoke with the other lawyers about their respective fields and experiences. One of those lawyers, who organized the event, happened to be Inga Andriessen herself! The rest as they say is history – well, one coffee date and formal interview later of course.

I cannot stress enough to other borderline introverts like myself of the power of putting yourself out there. Whether you’re employed or looking for a job, Google search and get on mailing lists for upcoming networking events in your area of interest. Meet new people. Widen that social circle of yours. Build confidence.  Really, what’s the worst that could happen?

Robin K Mann, JD, Associate Lawyer