Diving into the deep end of networking

Monday, 20th November 2023

Author: Jack Livsey, Potter Clarkson

I am an Associate at Potter Clarkson, an intellectual property law firm. I am at a stage of my career where I am looking to grow my professional network and attract new clients. However, as an introvert, networking doesn’t come naturally to me. To develop my skills and confidence, I joined the Future-Pro committee and hosted Potter Clarkson’s Pro-Manchester member event on 1st November.

In this blog, I will share the three biggest lessons I learnt from diving into the deep end of networking.

Lesson 1: “Yes, and…”

My natural inclination is to stay quiet and let others put themselves forward, especially with respect to activities that involve public speaking. This year, I have adopted the mantra of improv comedy, “yes, and…”.

The first step was to say “yes” and volunteer for opportunities to network. The second was to immediately establish a commitment that is more difficult to break than a “yes” said in isolation.

For example:

“Can you get more involved with pro-manchester?”

“Yes, and I’ll do so by joining the future-pro Committee.”

I will typically take any opportunity to get out of something that is outside of my comfort zone. (Most often, going to the gym!) However, by setting a clear commitment to a specific action, I could stop myself from backtracking.

Lesson 2: Learn from the experts

As members of the future-pro Community, we are at the start of our careers. However, most of us work with at least one more experienced person, if not several.

When considering my networking goals at the start of the year, a key element was thinking about who I could work with and learn from on my path to achieve those goals. I was very lucky to have a person in my firm that I already had a great working relationship with and was leading our firm’s business development and networking efforts in the North West. It was then straight forward to ask to get more involved in those efforts.

Nevertheless, I have benefitted massively from having a more experienced colleague act as a mentor while I entered the world of networking. From that mentor, I have learnt how to balance day-to-day work with the more sporadic but intensive requirements of business development. We have also attended networking events together and I’ve picked up tips on how making new connections and building those connections into a business network.

Lesson 3: Preparation pays off

My final tip isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it is true that preparation is as important for networking as it is for so many aspects of life. When I recently hosted an event, the time I invested in preparation was key to the event running smoothly.

That preparation included determining the synopsis of the event over three months in advance; inviting panellists for the event soon after; maintaining clear and regular communication with the panellists and pro-manchester, including a briefing session a week in advance; and coordinating consistent promotion of the event.

If I were to select one lesson to teach myself at the start of this year, it would be to take preparation seriously. For example, after what I have learnt this year, I will start preparing for networking events by reviewing attendee lists more thoroughly and brushing up on the event topics so that I can delve into conversations more easily.

If you have any questions for the author on networking, intellectual property or a career as a patent attorney, please reach out to Jack Livsey on LinkedIn.