TLA is our acronym at InsideCounsel for the annual Transformative Leadership Awards dinner.

This unique awards dinner, which emphasizes the accomplishments of prominent female general counsel, presents a career opportunity for you beyond just good networking. To be sure, the networking at the TLA is terrific, and long-term readers of this column can correctly anticipate more details about that aspect of the event in a moment.

I think what makes the TLA truly special, however, is its capacity to inspire. Inside counsel don’t receive a lot of public recognition, and our profession isn’t exactly known for celebrating. The rapid growth of the TLA, from an experiment just three years ago to a really hot ticket reveals pent-up demand for peer-level affirmation.

We want to see our peers honored and, if we are working our way up the ladder, we especially want to get excited about what the future might hold. I’m not a woman, and I’m not an in-house lawyer. And still the TLA inspires me. It makes me feel good about dedicating my career to serving the niche world of corporate law departments and, on occasion, I get the rewarding joy of watching a client being honored.

Our professional lives need to be about much more than just making money. The TLA award winners certainly understand this. I am always struck by the consistent emphasis on relationship building and mentoring during the acceptance speeches. No general counsel succeeds in a vacuum, and I enjoy hearing about the unique career path traveled by each award winner.

In addition to the feel-good aspect of the evening, let’s talk power networking. My advice is to let the celebratory nature of the event inform your conversation during the cocktail hour and beyond. Even if you are in job search mode, this is the wrong occasion for a discussion of your credentials.

A good conversation starter is asking an attendee who he or she is there to support. The answer can be specific, or it may be tied to a table invitation and general interest in the event. Either way, you begin to learn about the other person and quality networking starts there. Many inside counsel attendees are guests of event sponsors, so asking about one’s host for the evening can create additional introductions.

Full disclosure: Our firm is proud once again to support the TLA as a table sponsor. This dinner offers a unique opportunity to thank some clients and celebrate with them. As importantly, it’s a modest but concrete way for me to support the great team at InsideCounsel. I appreciate this column and do not take the privilege of writing it for granted. So, if you network with me at the TLA, please be candid about what you like or don’t like in this space, and challenge me with any ideas you may have for future topics. I look forward to meeting you.