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Networking is one of the most important things that you’ll do as a law student or aspiring lawyer. People will tell you that it’s important to attend as many legal events as possible but won’t tell you how you can put your best self out there at these events. This is the question on everyone’s minds when they’re approaching their first legal networking event. Just exactly how do you do it? Below I’ve put together some helpful tips on how you can survive networking events that’ll be key to getting you into the legal profession.
Understanding what networking involves is key to approaching legal networking events and to get the most out of them. Networking isn’t about collecting business cards, handing out business cards or doing a sales pitch to get you a job out of law school. Networking is about making and maintaining connections so that you can hear about legal job opportunities, legal events, tips to progress your legal career and to keep up to date with the legal industry.
Networking your way out of law school
- Create a list of people who are due to attend the networking event that you wish to form a connection with. That way you can research what they do to assist you in asking questions and demonstrating a genuine interest in who they are and what they do. Do not worry if your list is small, this will build up the more you attend legal networking events.
- Introducing yourself can be a great ice breaker. If you jump right into a conversation, it can break the awkwardness and show that you’re engaging. However, don’t start by asking for a job. Remember that your focus should be to build professional relations and gathering useful information to help you to progress your legal career.
- Ensure you give yourself time to speak to as many lawyers as possible. Equally you don’t need to rush your conversations. There will likely be other law students waiting to talk to that person and you can also help them to engage in the conversation. Their questions may even help you to think of other key points that you want to discuss with the lawyer.
- Have a plan of what it is that you want to find out. Outline your expectations and goals from networking with lawyers. Maybe you’re looking for a mentor or you’re still trying to identify whether the field they practise in is for you. This will be your strategy and help you to decide on what questions you want to ask the lawyers. The lawyers at these networking events have been where you are, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- It goes without saying that you should be dressed professionally, whether that be business causal or a suit. Make sure you check the dress code before you attend the event.
You can read LCN’s Oracle on what to wear to interviews for more on dress code.
Finding networking opportunities
With the internet at our fingertips, it’s now easier than ever to find networking opportunities. If you’re still at university or law school, then this can be a great first place to start. Usually, your law society will have access to a range of networking opportunities in the legal industry and be able to keep you up to date on any potential networking opportunities that may arise. These are typically held on and off campus so can be a great way to get you out of law school and into a law firm or chambers. LinkedIn is also a great place to discover networking opportunities as law firms, chambers and other external legal societies do post opportunities that students can get involved in to network with those in the legal profession.
Remember, after every networking session, if you feel that you’ve made a genuine connection or would like to hear more from the connections you made, be sure to follow up with them after a networking event. Maintaining regular contact will help you to develop those professional relations and you never know, it may even be your ticket to legal work experience or a job out of law school.