October 31, 2018
Job Talk: Network Smart!
Just attending an event or sending an email is not enough. You have to do your part to prepare for the people you will meet, make a good impression, and keep in contact.
Don’t just network….Network SMART!
1. Do your homework!
I recently heard a Networking Nightmare. Let’s say that you are at a networking event, grabbing a bottle of water, and a gentleman approaches you and says hello. You introduce yourself.
“Hi, I’m Sally Smith. I’m a 2L at Southwestern.”
He introduces himself. He’s on the panel you’re there to attend, a partner at a firm you’re interested in because they practice the type of law you want to practice. Great!
Until he asks, “Do you know anything about my firm?”
You say you are interested in the firm, but did you research the firm or do you just know what type of law they practice?
If you haven’t researched the firm, you just MISSED A HUGE OPPORTUNITY! Someone who says, “No,” misses the chance to talk about why they’re interested in the firm, to make an impression, and to start a connection. “Yes, I read the published case on…” or “Yes, I saw that your firm hires a lot of Southwestern grads…” or “Yes, I saw that you tend to focus on…” shows that you have done your homework and you are the type of student he wants to get to know.
You do not have to know their life story, but a thorough perusal of the firm’s website is a great conversation starter. Email works the same way. You can create a connection with someone you’ve never met by sending an email, but don’t ask if they are hiring or what type of law they practice -- an internet search can tell you that. Instead, build a deeper connection by asking their career trajectory or discussing a mutual interest.
2. Stay Humble!
With networking, you should never make a demand for someone’s time, expecting that someone will engage with you or help you in any way. Networking is a two-way street. This person is taking time (and billable hours) out of their day to meet you, don’t expect them to drop everything. But when you have a conversation, be inquisitive and curious. Listen more you than you talk. Networking is about building a relationship, not just a one-time meeting that will magically yield a dream job offer.
So many attorneys say that they reach out and try to help law students only to have them never respond. Don’t neglect the relationship and consider it a connection made. Relationships must be kept active. Maybe the firm couldn’t hire you right then, but maybe down the road they can or can refer you for another position. Keep in contact. Let them know what you are doing. Invite them to coffee. It makes you stand out from the crowd!
With these simple tips, you will be on your way to networking like a pro!