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Hispanic National Bar CLE talks about networking in the age of COVID-19

April 17, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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The legal community was one that slowly creeped into the technological era over a few decades, but in just one month it has embraced video streaming technology so that it can continue to function during the coronavirus pandemic.

The transition started with virtual arraignments in Criminal Court and emergency hearings in Family Court, and has spread to board meetings and continuing legal education (CLE). Earlier in April, the Brooklyn Bar Association held a live streaming CLE on how to have online depositions using Zoom.

Last Thursday, the Hispanic National Bar Association, Region II, Young Lawyers Division held a CLE on how to network, hosted virtually by Lourdes Olvera-Marshall, global manager of diversity and inclusion at Fried Frank and an NYU adjunct professor.

“Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation,” said attorney Lourdes Olvera-Marshall. “We’ve already been locked down for a few weeks and people are doing happy hours, you can FaceTime people. People are thinking that right now is not the time to network, but I’m telling you it’s the opposite. Now is the time to network.”

Lourdes Olvera-Marshall, global manager of diversity and inclusion at Fried Frank and an NYU adjunct professor, was the speaker at the live-streamed CLE hosted by the Hispanic National Bar Association, Region II, Young Lawyers Division.

The meeting, titled, “Stay Connected: Virtual Networking Through Confinement,” was originally scheduled to be held in person last March, but because of PAUSE restrictions it was forced to be rescheduled and the speaker Olvera-Marshall was able to use the emergency to create a theme for discussion.

“Now that social distancing is our new normal, it is essential that professionals and business leaders acquire and apply the right tools to network successfully in a virtual world,” said Zoila Del Castillo. “Despite being behind closed doors, there is no better time than now for reaching out to your network to offer support, seek advice, generate new collaborations, and grow your social capital.”

Del Castillo explained that the group was thrilled to have Olvera-Marshall speak, even if they had to move the lecture online. She pointed out that Olvera-Marshall had recently been named in Crain’s New York Business’ Notable Women in Talent Resources list.

One of the things Olvera-Marshall stressed in her speech is that people shouldn’t network looking to fill an immediate need. She explained that it is important to build meaningful relationships with colleagues first before you can turn to them for help with a situation.

Once that relationship is established, it can be built upon even in isolation.

“When COVID hit and we went on lockdown, I turned to my network, including an old professor of mine, and asked how they were doing,” Olvera-Marshall said. “It was a short conversation, I asked about their clients and speaking engagements and that was it. Fast forward a few weeks and I’m putting together a series of chats, and I thought it would be great to have him included. I felt comfortable at that point because I had already checked in.”

Zoila Del Castillo, who helped to organize the CLE.

Fostering relationships is important, and she explained that now might be the perfect time for people to send out simple emails checking in on others, even if they haven’t spoken in a while.

“Find out how they are doing, ask them about what is happening in their business and you might even offer to help them with something if you are able to,” she said.

She said that introverted types should look at this as a golden opportunity to be able to network without attending in-person meetings. She recommended reaching out to people the same way people last interacted with them, whether that was over the phone, by email, over FaceTime or even through LinkedIn.

“Right now this is golden for you if you are an introvert because you don’t have to go to events,” Olvera-Marshall said. “This is a challenge for me right now because I’m such an extrovert.”

The HNBC’s Young Lawyers Division will host a second part to the CLE on Wednesday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. with attorney Ellie Nieves. That discussion is entitled, “The ‘It’ Factor: Executive Presence” and will discuss how to develop the leadership needed to be an executive.

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