Networking forms part of the process by which law students search for job openings upon graduation. As part of the networking process law students are required to cultivate long-term relationships in order to amass information, gain exposure and learn about job opportunities. Equally, networking presents the law student who is still unsure or undecided about what kind of job would suit them with an avenue to talk to lawyers with interests in specific fields of law in order to narrow down options that would suit them.
Beyond that, networking also offers law students the opportunities to land public service jobs through interaction with employers, friends and school alumni.
The aim of networking goes beyond securing job interviews. It involves the process of meeting people who can offer advice for your job search, answer questions about career choices and offer you the names of more people you can contact who may be able to assist you get further along in the process of finding your ideal job (Harvard Law School).
Networking in order words demands that you go out and meet new people at every opportunity. It means you have to socialize more and be a little outgoing. But this isn’t everyone’s strong suit. Some of us are something of an introvert keeping to ourselves and would rather people came to us than we go to them. Nobody wants to be the one to break the ice and start an awkward conversation. So we just practice with avoidance. If you have an attitude like this, networking for you will become a real dread. But this need not be the case. To really enjoy networking, you’ll have to be very casual about it, just like you’d be in your conversations with intimate friends. Don’t approach it “too seriously” as networking is a whole lot easier when it doesn’t really seem like networking at all.
So here are a few networking tips for you to help you overcome your dread.
(1) Build on existing contacts
Law students must realize that family and friends are all part of the networking process. Get in touch with family members, relatives and friends who can offer leads to close relatives in the legal profession who might be of assistance to you. Equally as part of building on already existing contacts, network with alumni from your law school.
(2) Attend events
There’s no getting away from this one. We know you like the indoors, but you are not going to build relationships staying indoors. You can’t substitute for attending events by sending bulk unsolicited emails to every jack.
You have to do a little alfresco and get out there. Attend bar association events and other meetings. Arrive early, an hour or so before guests start arriving. This is so that you can get the attention of persons you have in mind before they devote their time to other arriving guests. When there focus on lawyers who are likely to be of assistance to you most especially those who practice law in vicinities you are attracted to. Ask them relevant questions about their practice interests, describe the type of work you are seeking, your background and the kind of assistance you need.
(3) Get involved in Pro bono
We’ve talked about the benefits of doing pro bono in a previous post. But for the sake networking, we’ll say this much. Doing pro bono will benefit your fast track and expedite your networking since you’ll be working with varied lawyers in the course of doing pro bono. You will come in contact with lawyers with different practice interests who will be more than willing to genuinely assist you.
(4) Use social media
While social media usage by lawyers does have its own pitfalls, networking candidates however will find it just handy in their networking pursuits. It offers the networker the opportunity to connect with other genuine lawyers in the profession that can offer help to the law networker. All it begs for that you simply create a LinkedIn profile, include a professional photo of yourself. Do this too on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to connect with former classmates.
(5) Offer help to people
This is another informal way of networking. You still remember that cliché about one good turn deserving another. In Nigeria is something like, if you scratch my back I will scratch yours. That’s what makes the world go round. Offer people genuine help and they’ll owe you. Sometimes they might return the favor by offering you invaluable leads in your networking pursuit.
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LLB from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. In his spare time, Patrick doubles as a professional writer and copyeditor.
If you have any urgent enquiries, you can email him @[email protected]