The Art of Networking Law School Style

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

The legal community is much smaller than any of us realize and who you know can help build your reputation and reveal future opportunities.  But how do you make these connections and create new relationships? Networking of course.

Networking does not have to be scary or overwhelming. In fact, in many cases it can be as simple as sending an email, speaking to a professional after they have spoken at your school or talking with a Professor. Sure, we still need to attend large events and mixers for traditional networking but do not miss out on the small opportunities either. Here are 4 tips to help you become a networking pro.

Make the First Move

The first step to networking is to make the first move. If your law school is anything like mine, throughout the week you will have speakers at lunchtime. Start small and take the time to thank them after their presentation and introduce yourself. This might seem like a meaningless task, but if talking to new people makes you nervous this is a great time to practice. If you are comfortable talking to new people, this is a great time to use your elevator speech.

Refine Your “Elevator” Speech

By now I am sure you’ve heard people talk about the importance of an elevator speech. If not, an elevator speech is an introduction to promote yourself in a short amount of time, usually about 30 seconds. Your elevator speech will evolve as you gain more legal experience, but for now, think about the attributes that set you apart from other students. It could be your grades, clinics, work experience, or previous educational experience like an IP degree. You want to make your speech brief, but memorable.

Do your Research

If you have a guest speaker or know you will be attending a tabling event, research the people or organization you want to meet. For example, yesterday after one of the events at my school I stayed behind for the Q&A specifically because I wanted to connect with one of the Judges. I saw in his bio that he had spent a great deal of his career at an agency that I have an interview with this week. I introduced myself and asked if he had any advice for interviewing with this agency. He remarked, “Wow, I spent most of my career there. How did you know?” I explained I had read it on the bio that had come with the case facts.

He then spent about 5 minutes discussing his career, the importance of the work he did, and how important it was that he made a personal connection with someone there, as they helped him secure his position directly out of law school. As we walked away, he asked for my name again and wished me good luck on my interview. This was a simple networking connection that provided me with valuable information. Which leads me to the final tip.

Use What You Learn.

If you think about networking like it is a fact-finding mission it can provide you with both purpose and focus. At a networking event give yourself goals to accomplish. For example, I am going to speak to at least 3 new people, that can help me learn about employment law. Then use the information you learn. For example, through my networking experience yesterday, I feel like I have a greater understanding of the agency and I will use this information during my interview.

What are some great networking tips that you have learned? Let me know over on Twitter and Instagram @The1LLife.