It's Friday night and time for the weekly young lawyers gathering sponsored by your county bar association. They do it every Friday at 6:00 at a celebrated local watering hole. You go once in a while, mostly because you're supposed to be out networking.
When you arrive, you spot some family law attorneys clustered in one corner of the room. You practice family law, and they practice family law, so you head in that direction.
The next thing you know, it's 8:00, and it's time for this little gathering to wrap up. You've spent two hours talking to the family law lawyers.
Big mistake—waste of time—networking disaster.
You got several things right tonight:
You decided to go to the gathering.
You drove over and parked.
You got out of the car and went in.
You looked around the room.
Then you made your mistake: you headed toward the family law attorneys.
Those folks are not the people you need to meet at the gathering. Those are the people you already know. On top of that, those people are the competition.
Next time, you need to head to the opposite side of the room. Head toward the lawyers you don't know. Head toward the lawyers who aren't competing with you for clients.
You'll find what you need on the other side of the room. You can always catch up with the family law bar while you're in court.
Use these gatherings to get to know people who might refer to you. Build your network by getting friendly with some new people.