Dec 09, 2008

Take a Vacation from Holiday Networking Events By Hosting Your Own

The holiday season has descended in all its glory, and like most lawyers, you probably find yourself with a stack of invitations to bar association lunches, charitable events, and holiday cocktail hours and parties.  So you trek dutifully from event to event, exchanging business cards and pleasantries with dull colleagues whom you see only a few times a year at these types of gatherings and who've never sent you a dime's worth of business.  Maybe worse, the others ignore you entirely, so you resign yourself to observing from the corner, stuffing yourself with cardboard crackers and bland cheese.  And suddenly, the holiday season, which ought to be joyful and uplifting, morphs into an enervating experience.

Guess what?  Networking doesn't have to be this way.  In fact, if you dread or loathe networking events, your distaste will come across in your interactions, thereby further reducing the likelihood of meeting anyone worthwhile.  Why not take a vacation from holiday networking events by holding your own?

You'll find many advantages to sponsoring your own holiday event.  First, you control who you invite, so you can include people you actually want to spend time with, or colleagues who've sent you work or helped you out in the past.  Second, you make yourself the center of attention at your own party by greeting guests and introducing them to each other.  Third, let's face it -- you're not the only person who's grown tired of bar events.  Most lawyers can't stand them and will welcome a chance to hang out in a relaxed environment with a small group of colleagues.  Finally, when you host a party, people appreciate the initiative.  They'll call in advance to ask what they can bring, and likely call afterwards to thank you for a good time, or for introducing them to a potential business contact.  Thus, without any further action, you remain in touch with colleagues long after the party ends and solidify relationships that may eventually yield business.

As for planning a party, it's never been easier than with the Internet.  Use Evite or email to get the word out and collect RSVPs.  You can hold the party in your office or the backroom of a casual restaurant or bar.  There's no need to spend lots of money and in fact, in these economic times, a lavish party may be regarded in poor taste. If you're feeling charitable at this time of year, you can organize a group of lawyers to staff an intake night at a local clinic, or ask them to bring toys or food for the needy to the party.

If you act quickly, you may have time to squeeze in an event before the end of the year.  If not, no worries.  Instead of a holiday party in 2008, why not organize the first post-New Year's party of 2009?