Joining a professional organization, like the Maryland State Bar Association, can elevate your career in many ways – from networking, to the feel-good component of volunteering on boards and committees, to developing lasting personal and professional relationships. The benefits are endless. But we also know that time is a precious commodity and with a busy legal career, it’s challenging to gauge which networking opportunity is right for you and if it will provide the pathway to increased knowledge, resources, and the professional connections you seek. Most relationships develop organically but joining a professional organization can fast track the effectiveness of making the effort to establish them.
The following tips can help you build valuable bonds when making professional connections in the Maryland legal arena and beyond:
Engage with the legal community
By joining the Maryland State Bar Association or attending conferences like MSBA’s Legal Summit in Ocean City, MD, you gain instant access to a broad spectrum of legal professionals in your field. Events and industry summits are excellent opportunities to connect with peers and luminaries in the profession. Annual conferences like Legal Summit or networking events, such as those hosted by MSBA Sections or local Connections events, offer a more casual atmosphere as compared to formal gatherings you might find at your firm, providing you with added opportunities to build professional connections and stronger bonds.
Be your most outgoing and gregarious self
While these opportunities may come more naturally to extroverts, reserved or introverted individuals can easily find events to interact and engage with others in professional organizations. Seek out gatherings that encourage you to interact and engage with fresh faces. You can also practice being outgoing in your professional life by enrolling in association sponsored events like lunch and learn’s and after-hours meet and greets. The more you practice this skill, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Whether personal or professional, the best connections have a collegial or symbiotic bond in which both individuals provide something beneficial to each other. Good working relationships is also great for collaboration, innovation, and creativity. If you request counsel from a peer in the legal profession or a new contact you recently met at a networking event, demonstrate that you’re also willing to offer your assistance or support when they need it. This willingness creates a more balanced relationship that showcases your genuine respect and gratitude for one another.
Publish your work
Take advantage of industry journals or blogging platforms to get noticed by people in your area of expertise. For example, the Maryland State Bar Association offers a platform for its members to share their knowledge and expertise through a variety of vehicles, including articles for its publications, tools & resources for its website, and as faculty for CLE programs. This gives individuals an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of an area of the law, showcasing expertise in matters their clients, colleagues and firm can count on. Professional connections who read your work and find it interesting or worthwhile may contact you to share their thoughts or connect with you. This tactic creates a pathway for like-minded individuals to contact you rather than trying to find them yourself.
Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Legal Summit, held in Ocean City, MD, June 7-9, 2023, is the ideal opportunity to expand your network of Maryland legal connections. Your Annual Meeting conference registration gives you immediate access to networking events – instantly expanding your professional reach. Engage with Summit participants at our Welcome Reception; Law School Alumni Reception with the Deans of both University of Baltimore School of Law and University of Maryland Carey School of Law; relax, chat with colleagues and have fun at an Afternoon at Seacrets or during the Barrister’ Bar Nights hospitality suite; expand your professional network, learn new skills, and gain exposure to new opportunities and as you mingle with Maryland’s newest members of the bench at the New Judges’ Reception; stroll the Trade Show floor and interact with over 40 exhibitors ready and willing to assist you in taking your practice to the next level. You Belong at Legal Summit!
Expanding your contact list organically can be a long, time consuming process. Professional associations provide curated networking opportunities with legal trailblazers who are members of your professional community. Whether you are interested in pursuing career opportunities, connecting with other law professionals, or even looking for a mentor within your network, the opportunities to boost your connections are invaluable.
*This article was originally published in The Daily Record. Used with permission.