Walking into a networking event – where you plan to know less than 2 people – is terrifying. As a law student, networking events include our future employers, partners, and colleagues – which means first impressions count.
While clerking for a Probate Judge last Spring, he said to me ” Sarah, don’t ever be the attorney that thinks they know everything. Be the attorney that makes it your business to know what other attorneys don’t!”
As a 1L, he was basically Yoda speaking in riddles.
As a 2L – I can kind of see his point.
Although I am still learning the law, and its intricacies, it’s important to remember that youth in (or out) of a courtroom does not equate to ignorance. Many times I find myself speaking to attorneys, asking them about their experiences; pulling knowledge from them and the mistakes they experienced, in order to learn from them.
I highly recommend you NETWORK! Put yourself out there. Don’t know how? Here are a few simple steps:
- Dress like a BOSS, even if you are low [wo]man on the totem pole. Why? It will get you noticed! I wore a killer dress-suit to an event this week and this happened:
While at a networking event, I was approached numerous times by attorneys wanting to know what I taught at UNT Dallas College of Law.My response was always – “Oh, I’m not a professor. I’m a 2L.”
Response: “Seriously? You dress so professionally. Do you always wear a dress suit to events like this?”
Me: “Well, yes. Dean Harris told me I can dress how want when I get a job.”
Attorney – “Amen to THAT! Tell her she’s teaching y’all well!”
2. Grab a drink.
- Alcohol is served at many attorney networking events – But You are NOT obligated to partake! Don’t feel that others will judge you if you don’t ask for dry martini, or a glass of the bar’s finest cabaret. There’s nothing wrong with drinking water!
- Be comfortable, drink what you want to.
- On that note though – don’t over indulge. Attorneys don’t want to feel like babysitters because the law student couldn’t be responsible. Trust me. You do not want to be the student who gets called in by the Dean to discuss “proper behaviour among the Bar.” #Embarrassing
3. Don’t be afraid to approach groups of people.
- Groups of 3 are the easiest to enter, because only one person is speaking and you can slide right into the conversation. Introduce yourself to one of the person not speaking, and then wait until the speaker halts.
- This may seem hard, but sometimes the person you introduced yourself to will branch off from the group and strike up a conversation with YOU!
- When approaching a group of TWO, make sure to quickly apologize, and then enter into the conversation –
- “Sorry, I’d like to jump in here, if you don’t mind.”
- “Excuse me, mind if I chat with you both?”
4. Keep Extra Business Cards On You
- I absolutely LOVE the cards I purchased from MOO.COM
- Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box with your cards, either.
- Elle Woods would approve my cards. They’re attention-getters, because the cards are textured, and are printed with raised gold-foil; every attorney I’ve handed one to comments on the quality of them!
Do your best to have fun, speak about your experiences, and make quality connections! It’s important to be able to email at least two people after every event, and make sure those connections last! It’s your responsibility to reach out to those established attorneys and judges. Let me know you’re genuinely interested in their work, and explain what you hope to learn from them.
Questions for you –
- What challenges do you experience in networking situations?
- Which tips do you use to giver yourself an edge?
Have a great week!