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Networking outside the box

A year ago, I wrote about how to get involved and network within Bar associations. But, as we all know, balancing a hectic work schedule and finding the time to attend lunchtime or evening events is not always easy. Sometimes you may have a week like mine, with six trials and a pretrial conference. Add to that non-work-related social events, like three evening engagements that I volunteered to attend, and it makes for a busy week.

Most Bar association events are usually on weekday evenings, which can be tough for full-time working professionals to attend, especially if you have to fight an awful commute in order to get there. But fear not: legal events are not the only places you can get involved and expand your network.

On Saturday, for example, I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser for ToolBank. The nonprofit lives up to its motto, “Ending tool scarcity for America’s volunteers,” by offering an inventory of tools (shovels, rakes, drills, etc.) to help other nonprofits, religious and educational institutions and community groups make an impact in their neighborhoods and communities. Saturday’s fundraiser was filled with financial planners, consultants, lawyers, politicians, business owners and other heavy hitters, making it a great place to network.

The week before, I dragged along some of my friends and volunteered to knock on doors for a candidate running for a City Council seat. Next weekend, I will be planting trees with a hundred other volunteers in various locations around the city, and then head to an after-party hosted by the ToolBank.

Although I obviously love attending the Bar association events, it’s a nice change of pace to connect with a group of non-lawyers. Networking over a glass of wine at a young lawyers happy hour is great but chatting with other young professionals while mulching a white oak gives you a different sense of camaraderie. This is also a good way to achieve a work-life balance while still being able to meet new people. Especially since these are the types of people you need in your network — the ones who are giving up their Saturday morning to come out to a canvassing or tree planting event are usually other like-minded professionals who care about and want to get involved in the community.