10 Feb Networking Tips for Law Students
In any career, but particularly in the legal profession, it’s not necessarily just what you know (how well you did in school, your areas of expertise, etc.) but who you know as well. Networking is an essential tool for law students entering the job market. As a law student, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet and speak with legal professionals in all areas of the law. So bring your game face and keep these networking tips for law students in mind as you introduce yourself to the legal world.
Dress to Impress
It is better to overdress than underdress, especially in a profession such as the law, where business professional is the norm. Lean toward formal attire, like suits, no matter what the event. If you have an outrageous personal style, networking events are not the proper venue to show that off—it’s better to stand out for what you say and how you act than because of the way you’re dressed.
The Scout motto is always important no matter the occasion, but when attending an event where you’ll be networking with possible employers or contacts, there are some specifics you should have prepared. Do your research on potential contacts (people who might be there who you should know). Prepare what many business experts call the “elevator pitch,” a couple of sentences about yourself you might use to explain your goals, qualifications, and experience were you “stuck in an elevator” with someone who could be good for your career.
When engaging in conversation, it is important to ask questions that are open-ended and give people the opportunity to answer. Be sure to listen and respond accordingly instead of just waiting for your turn to speak. Have you ever seen a poorly-acted movie or TV show where it seems like the actors are just waiting for their turns to say a line? That is not how you want to appear to people you’d like to network with. Break the ice with a question, be unafraid to join conversations, and be sure to listen! You should always be more interested in learning about others than telling them about yourself—that can help make them want to learn more about you.
Social media is a great way for you to make lasting connections. Have a LinkedIn profile, Twitter and (professional) Facebook profiles ready. Follow up with contacts you make, but don’t overwhelm them with emails or messages.
Be Consistent and Be Yourself
Many people think that networking necessitates becoming someone else. That never works. You should be true to yourself and consistent in the message you put out to the networking world. It’s no use making a contact and trying to impress him or her with things that are untrue either factually or to your future plans or goals.
Networking is an important part of any career, but with today’s tough employment market it is even more necessary for aspiring attorneys. Be interesting in what you say and interested in what others have to say, and you will do just fine.