Networking Lunches and Dinners: 3 tips

Guest blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

After the first few weeks of my 1L year, one of my admission counselors scheduled a networking lunch with one of the area attorneys. As my first 1-on-1 networking food-related outing, I was a bit perplexed about what exactly I needed to know about such an event. Last week it came full-circle when I found myself at an upscale restaurant having a networking dinner.

That being said, here are 3 basic tips for these settings.

1.  Don’t be late.
Some people are of the mind that arriving “fashionably” late is a custom. I, on the other hand, am of a different belief. I treat these types of settings as quasi-interviews. Even if it’s simply a dinner to socialize with other area attorneys, I find it important to not keep the host waiting.

2. What you order matters.
This one is a bit random, but it’s important nonetheless. Here’s my rule of thumb: order the meal that has the lowest risk of creating a mess. It’s almost comical, but stay away from the pasta with the red sauce and any other really messy foods. There’s nothing more terrifying than the idea of having an hour-long session with a nice fresh grease stain on your shirt, jacket, or dress.

3. Ask genuine questions.
The main difference between an actual interview for a job and a networking dinner/lunch is that the questions can be broader in range. With the different setting, questions can be more genuine and not as stark/rehearsed as questions in the normal job-interview setting. Plus, I think individuals can tell when questions are truly genuine.