Good communication skills are very important for lawyers. In almost any job in any legal field you’ll often have to communicate with clients, colleagues and other professionals. Networking is crucial for any law student if you want to jumpstart your career once you graduate. The earlier you start developing relationships with your peers, professors and legal professionals the better prepared you will be for finding a job in the legal field you are interested in, or for starting your own law firm later on in your career (or even right after you graduate if you are really motivated).
Read on to learn a few useful tips for improving your networking skills.
While some students are naturally very good at networking, others who are a bit more introverted often struggle with striking up conversations with strangers. If this sounds like you, you should make sure that you are prepared before hitting up campus (or other) networking events. Think about what you can say about yourself and your interests that people may find interesting. This doesn’t just have to be all professional, you can talk about personal interests as well. The most important thing is that you make a connection with the person you talk to. If you are actively looking for a job, try to find out what law firms will be present at the event you are attending and try to network with lawyers from the ones that work in the legal field you are interested in.
It’s a good idea to attend networking events on your own. Students often stay in their little groups if they attend networking events together and end up not talking to anyone they didn’t already know. More introverted students however may feel more comfortable attending events with extroverted friends who can push them to actually network with people. Make sure that if you go with a very extroverted friend that they don’t always take over the conversation completely.
Attend a Lot of Events
If you are not very comfortable with networking, you want attend a lot of events in order to become more comfortable with it. You might not do so well at the first events, but eventually you’ll become more used to attending these events and will start figuring out how to make the most of them.
Network at Any Social Events and Activities
You shouldn’t just network with people at official networking events, but at any type of social event that you attend. Make sure to regularly attend university social events that you are interested in. This can go from yoga classes and book clubs to mixers and happy hours at the university bar. Any relationships you build at these types of events can be important during your legal career. Often “networking” at such events will lead to friendships being built, which are often more valuable than strictly professional relationships. Attending events related to your hobbies and interests will also make it much easier to engage in interesting conversations with other attendants at the events.
Make Real Connections
Don’t just try to push your own agenda when networking, but try to find common interests that you can talk about, whether these are professional or more personal. That way you’re more likely to leave a lasting impression. If you’ve made a good connection, make sure to exchange business cards or contact information and follow up through email or phone afterwards.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Alamo Injury Attorneys, a personal injury law firm in San Antonio, Texas. Zane thinks that building relationships in law school would be fun.
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