In the run up to Christmas, one of the fun parts of working so hard throughout the year is getting invited to all the festive parties. From the annual bash at your own organisation, to client events and industry dos, there are so many opportunities to share a glass of wine with the people who have made your year worthwhile.

Festive cheer is all well and good, but how can you make sure your stockings are full of networking goodies.

Face to face networking. Perhaps you’re more of a traditionalist and prefer face-to-face encounters rather than online methods. Even so unless you’re a natural socialite, you’ll need to prepare. Researching who will be attending means you can be more direct with your networking, rather than aimlessly moving from one tray of mince pies to the other. Networking is for life not just for Christmas – you need to connect and follow up, which brings me on to the next point.

Online networking. Social media is the best place for connections to follow up. This is particularly true if you’re meeting dozens of people over the Christmas season, it’s a good way of matching faces to business cards. So, if your profile is missing the fundamentals i.e. a photo and summary, then you may be missing valuable potential connections.

A social networking presence allows legal professionals to build online ‘relationships’ through having a very prominent voice, making this is a new way of spreading the positive effects of networking to a much wider field of recipients.

Client relations. Being able to successfully network is an effective way of generating business and profile with potential clients, resulting in an inflow of work, which is the fastest route to success within the legal industry. They say Christmas is about giving, so why not give your clients something to shout about? Introduce them to someone new, buy them a nice bottle of wine or invite them along to an event.

Industry trends. Besides making new connections, networking means you can hear what people are working on and find out what the talk of the industry is. It’s an opportunity to be the first to know about issues or trends that could affect your career in a positive or negative way, as well as being offered opportunities to build on an existing reputation.

Whether digitally or via the more traditional methods, reaching out and linking up with other legal industry insiders, as well as potential clients, is crucial to the success of any legal practice. Making connections in this way will always be a driving force in assisting careers to develop and businesses to gain strength.