Networking is key when getting your foot in the door of the legal industry, and there are numerous times you might need to network to advance your career:
Firm open days
This article will target all four opportunities where networking might prove a challenge, and provide you will a simple step-by-step guide to succeed in that scenario.
How to Network: at Firm Presentations
When a firm visits campus, this is an easy opportunity for you to mingle in the comfort of your own campus. Book your tickets to the event, turn up on time and dress appropriately. A first impression is made in the first 5 seconds of meeting someone. Make your time count.
Always shake hands when meeting an employee. Retain a relaxed manner and assuring eye contact. The devil is in the details. Enjoy their company, do not make the conversation forced.
Do your research. Know the firm’s specialist practise areas. Have questions ready – show that you really are engaged in their work. Trivial questions count – showing interest can take any shape or form!
How to Network: at Firm Open Days
When you visit a firm, you must make your effort worthwhile. Check the event location before you set out, and make sure to be friendly to any member of staff that greets you at the office. It all helps you stand out!
During the workshops that often make up the day, discuss the material with your fellow students. They could be your future colleagues – networking on all levels is of use.
Try and mix with both trainees and partners at the following lunch or drinks. Taking in both perspectives will allow you to calculate which questions you should ask who. If it is a partner, maybe question them about a case note they have written on a recent case of theirs (you can find these on a firm’s website). This will differently distinguish you from the crowd.
How to Network: Over LinkedIn
This is a digital platform build for the purposes of networking. Use it! Make sure your profile is professional and always updated. Have a suitable photograph of yourself – you may be remembered by firm’s and this gives you an opportunity to be recognised. However, make sure you (and/or your parents/guardians) are comfortable with the privacy settings of your profile.
Treat LinkedIn as a digital CV. All your best accomplishments and achievements should be listed, and to guarantee they are sold to the best of their abilities, you can write a little about each experience to demonstrate what you gained from it. Not only does this show commitment, this also shows analysistic and reflective skills.
When you meet people at firm presentations, either on or off campus, remember their names! Firm employees are easy to find on LinkedIn, so start collect your personal connections online!
How to Network: Over Email
Every little counts. Each correspondence via email is just a virtual type of networking. Make sure you contact people through a professional email address – your childhood nickname followed by 123 will not suffice. Your university address is a suitable choice.
Spelling and grammar! Treat each email as a piece of work – you would not hand it in unless perfect, right? Right. There should be no errors in your emails – sloppiness in writing and lazinessy in checking for said mistakes is by no means reflective of a good employee – no client wishes to receive an illegible email.
Be polite. Manners are everything. Make a note of the name of the person you are speaking with, and use it consistently – with the correct spelling! Address each individual using their preferred titles and pronouns. Make sure you open and close each email formally – often one can gauge how the correspondence should be addressed.
Networking is not as intimidating when there is a simple formulae to crack it. Revise and repeat these steps and smile – you’ll be a social butterfly of the legal industry.