What do I do at a reception?
It's that time of year that there will be a flurry of receptions for 1Ls and a large flock of receptions and parties for lawyers and other professionals. Take full advantage of these events!
HOW THE HECK do I do that? You want me to walk into a room full of strangers and not feel like an idiot. If you have been invited, it is for a reason. Law firms want to meet you. Bar association sections want to grow their memberships. Black tie fund raisers are for a good cause and you can meet like-minded people there with whom you would naturally have something to talk about.
Do I have to walk up to a stranger, reach out my hand and say "Damned glad to met 'ya!" No. Really, you don't. If you are very shy, you can hover around an interesting conversation and, unless the people are really jerks or really drunk, the circle will naturally widen to include you and all you need to do is smile. Then, ask a question. All of a sudden, you'll find yourself in the conversation.
How to you extract yourself from conversations that are going on and on and on and on?
1. Say that you need to refresh your drink.
2. Say that you need to thank the host or hostess.
A past issue of the AMERICAN LAWYER STUDENT EDITION has a great article by Elisabeth Pries, Cracking the Cocktail Party: How to network, impress future colleagues, avoid dry-cleaning mishaps-- and have fun. It's not on line yet, but it has some good tips.
1. Pay attention to the invite and RSVP.
2. Dress for your audience. Don't be too casual.
3. Come prepared to network. This is the point, after all. This is your chance to learn about the firm, to meet some lawyers and administrators and to show your interest in the institution and its people. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO hang onto the punchbowl or to make up for lost meals.
4. Interesting doesn't mean offensive. These events are designed to allow the firms to observe your behavior in an oddly awkward social situation. This is where you may -- or may not -- pass the "could I trust this person alone in a room with a client" test. Don't be drawn into debates about religion and politics. Ask the questions you might not want to ask in an interview: tell me what you do outside of work? How do you engage in pro bono?
5. Field food and drinks with care. The CPDC rule of "No more alcoholic drinks than you have noses" applies here.
Originally posted by Susan Gainen