Last week I attended the “Through the Door and at the Table: Women and Racial Diversity” panel presented by The Law Society of Upper Canada and Women’s Law Association of Ontario. A sentiment mentioned by a couple of the panelists was that they do not enjoy networking events. I’m not surprised to hear that sentiment. I, however, agree with the comment that there is more to networking than “painful cocktail parties”, as expressed by May Cheng, who is a certified specialist in trademark and copyright law and a partner at Fasken Martineau. [Update: May Cheng is now a partner at Osler.]
I then started to think about relationship building situations some of us may find more comfortable. With National Coffee Day (September 29) and International Coffee Day (October 1) coming up, having coffee with someone quickly came to my mind.
In my post “Who Are You Having Coffee with on International Coffee Day?”, intellectual property lawyer Jason Leung spoke about how coffee meetings are one of the best ways to build your network and practice. He mentioned that “[t]here is no substitute for meeting with people one-on-one.” This is very true. Meeting up with someone over coffee provides that focused time to get to know one another and understand how we can help our contact.
Some of us may have become too comfortable with sending invitations to connect and sharing information on social media with a view to grow our network, build our profile and increase our personal brand awareness. We may have forgotten to take the time to develop our relationships by having in-person conversations with our connections and followers.
So I want to challenge you to review your social media contacts to see who you would like to have coffee with in the next few days. If meeting up for coffee in the next few days is bad timing, do at least send out that coffee invite.
If you still have reservations with having coffee with someone “new” or someone you’ve only met on social media, consider asking a mutual connection to attend as well. That person can even send out the coffee invite to provide you with the in-person introduction you’ve been seeking.
Also, please consider whether there is someone in your network to have coffee with that would help advance diversity in the legal profession. It’s up to us to empower ourselves and to help our colleagues in the legal profession get through the door and at the table. Change can happen even one coffee at a time.