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KIT, TTYL: Easy Networking for Law Students

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Networking can often feel like a horrible chore your mom asked you to do. “Mom, do I have to?” When it comes to networking, the answer is, “YES, you do!” Networking is more about building relationships, and less about building a tower of business cards. You can start by building relationships with the people you come into contact with on a daily basis. Terms like “keep in touch” and “talk to you later” are very important to your networking success as a law student. Here are a few tips for networking the easy way, with people you already know.

Professors
You don’t have to be a “gunner” or teacher’s pet to build a relationship with your professor. Visit your professors during their office hours. Beyond asking them questions about coursework, also ask about their career. If there is a professor who shares your interest, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. Find out who they know. When you write a paper for their class, ask if they know someone to whom you can speak about your topic. Professors often have a wealth of contacts. They can’t connect you if they don’t know you. Make sure your professors know your interests in addition to your stellar quality of work.

Students
Building relationships with fellow law students provides you with a great support system and network. Join organizations or form your own. This is a good way for everyone to know what your interests are, and how hard you are willing to work. Don’t forget about these people after graduation. Stay in touch via e-mail or lunch meetings, or just hang out for fun. I organized a painting class (the type where you bring your own adult beverages) over the holidays with a few of my law school alum. I am also a member of a small google group with a few alumni. We share jobs, information and hilarious stories about life after law school.

Law school has a way of making you forget there is life outside of the law library. Make time to venture out and meet other students from different programs at your school. You never know who you will meet. Look into attending conferences at other law schools. Several national law student organizations offer conferences. Some of them even provide a stipend or housing. Meeting students and faculty from other schools will cast a broader network that may span across the country.

Supervisors and co-workers
Interning provides a great way to broaden your network. Volunteering is also a good way to build your network. You can meet people in your field of interest and build your resume at the same. You will need to put in work to remain memorable after you leave your internship or volunteer position. Many places are revolving doors for interns and volunteers. Make sure to stay in contact by sending emails, going to lunch or attending happy hour. Send a recent article related to your contact’s work or write something of your own and ask for feedback. Send greeting cards at holidays or birthdays. If you stay in contact, people will think of you the next time they receive an email about a job or special opportunity.

Don’t forget about other people you come into contact with on a daily basis. This includes the barista at your coffee spot, the bus driver, custodian and everyone else. I have a close classmate and friend that can start a conversation with anyone. Watching her taught me the importance of building meaningful relationships with the people you come into contact with on a regular basis.

Lugging a suitcase full of case books is a great conversation starter. Take advantage of it the next time someone gives you a funny look. Start a conversation. I am not suggesting you start handing out business cards and resumes to everyone you see. I am suggesting that you make time to speak to people and ask them how their day is going. This will boost your ability to speak to strangers at your next networking event. Again, you never know who you will meet, or who they know.

Networking doesn’t have to be difficult. In order to be successful at networking you need to maintain contact. You can do this via e-mail, lunch meetings, or group activities like game night. Be creative. Share resources with your contacts and they will do the same for you. Remember, the key is building a relationship.

Share your own networking ideas, tips, or stories below.

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