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August 11, 2008

Networking for Shy Lawyers

http://a.abcnews.com/images/Health/is_shy_070824_ms.jpgYou've been told over and over again the way to get connections in the profession, drum up business, is network, network, network.  You know I'm right. And you know for some people it is just so easy.   They jump out there, do it as naturally as breathing. Yet you are more introverted, less comfortable in group situations, don't know how to break the ice or get with the 'in crowd.'  Honestly, don't worry. But the question remains: how do you work with what you are to be successful as a solo practitioner?

First, before you go labeling yourself introvert and extravert (yes, that is the correct spelling), understand the difference and then realize you are what you are and you're not going to change:

I’m going by the definitions used by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to the MBTI, introverts get their energy from the internal world of ideas and images, and they feel drained if they spend too much time with people. On the other hand, extraverts (and yes, that IS the correct spelling as used in the MBTI) get their energy from the external world of people and things, and they go crazy if they spend too much time alone. It really has nothing to do with social skills, as evidenced by introverts like Jerry Seinfeld.

Whether you prefer the internal world or the external world, that preference is fixed. You can force yourself to act outside of your element, but an introvert can’t become an extravert and vice versa. (Pick the Brain)

So, how does one network if they are not an extravert?  Are introverts disadvantaged as entrepreneurs in a profession which requires almost full throttle engagement? 

If you feel you fall into the introverted category (and even if you don't) here is a list of 25 great posts on networking for the shy which you need to take the time to read.  It was compiled by The M.A.P. Maker:

How to network: For introverts

Personal marketing for the shy

Learn to love networking

How to network if you’re shy

Networking for introverts

Networking for the shy

Power networking for introverts: Tips & techniques

Networking for shy people

How to network if you’re shy

Tips for shy people who want to meet clients at networking events

Networking for the shy

Networking for shy people (pdf)

The shy guy’s guide to networking

10 networking tips for shy entrepreneurs

Networking for the terminally shy

Networking tips for shy people

Business networking strategies for the shy

Networking Tips For Shy Job Seekers

Job search techniques for shy executives

Skip Haley's Networking Tips For Introverts

Don't be shy: Networking tips for the timid

Networking Strategies For Shy Professionals

Advice for Reluctant Networkers

Beating Shyness In The Business World

How Do I Overcome Shyness in Marketing My Home Business?

In addition, I would recommend you absolutely read Endless Referrals by Bob Burg.  It is a brilliant book which lays to rest once and for all that networking, building a sphere of influence and creating relationships (both professional and personal) are not just the province of extraverts.  Whatever you choose to label yourself, you need to read this book.

So, if you consider yourself more introverted, how have you been networking to bring in clients?  Please share.



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Jerry Bartholomew

As one who is fairly introverted, the key for me has been to define myself internally as a helper. I cannot change my hard-wiring and the way I recharge my batteries (introvert v. extravert) but I have learned to focus on the needs and challenges of other people. So here is my advice: don't know what to talk about? Find out what the other person needs. Don't know how to start a relationship? Start by helping the other person. And certainly if you receive help, be grateful and let that gratitude show. It is a lot easier to socialize for introverts if there is a particular purpose to the conversation. Helping other people will work as a purpose for a conversation in almost any situation. Moreover, trying to help others is an extremely gratifying way to live life.

Paul Perez

Totally agree Jerry. As an introvert, I find it much easier to network by volunteering to help out.


Wow, I'm going to have to bookmark this page. Thanks for addressing this issue. This is an important issue for me as I wait for my bar results.

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