Have you set your New Year’s resolutions for business yet? If yes, I hope that improved networking is on your list. And if no, make 2017 the year that you finally “up” your networking game.

Eliminate the excuses. Reach out now to schedule those all-important coffee or lunch dates.

If you are like most attorneys, you prefer to start conversations by email. This includes that first outreach to request a networking meeting. But what do you say in that email to get the response you desire? The answer, as always, is “it depends.”

How you word your email depends on whom you are emailing. Take the following two groups, for example.

Sample Email Text for Casual Acquaintances

The first (and bigger) group includes individuals whom you haven’t caught up with in a while. Most of them are professional acquaintances, law school classmates, CLE friends, and previous co-counsel. In short, these are people you see on a less frequent basis than your really good professional buddies.

Here’s your sample email text for this group:

Hi _____,

Hope your new year is off to a good start.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. We should catch up. Do you have time for lunch this month? The best days for me are the xth, xnd, xth and xth.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Sample Email Text for New Contacts

The next group includes individuals you have just met (think of all of those new faces at all the holiday parties you recently attended). Perhaps you chatted with them for 5-10 minutes and ended the conversation with, “We should have lunch sometime soon.” Unlike previous years, you’re going to actually set up that lunch instead of tossing their business card in your desk drawer and never look at it again.

The email you send to these folks could look a little more like this:

Hi _______,

I very much enjoyed meeting you at the ­­________’s holiday party. How was your trip to the in-laws that you were telling me about? I hope it wasn’t as bad as you expected.

Let’s get together for lunch to learn more about each other’s practice. The best days for me later this month are xth, xnd, xth and xth.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Don’t Forget the Dates!

Notice how I placed dates in both emails? Taking this one extra step at the outset should shorten up the email exchange. Better to receive a reply of “The 22st is fine. Where and what time?” instead of “Great idea. How do you want to do this?”

Good luck, and let this resolution be one that you stick to this year!