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Strategic Networking Secrets No One Told You About In Law School

Here it is - the long awaited networking blog that exactly 4 of you asked for!

You may have heard the popular catchphrase: it's all about who you know, not what you know. Whether that phrase rings true for every career or not, there’s no denying that who you know definitely sets YOU apart in the legal field. This was one of the main reasons I chose to stay in Kansas for law school, so I could continue to build my network across the state. 

I know your law school newsletter is filled with those bar association networking events, and they’re great! But networking doesn’t always have to be with other attorneys. (or anyone in your own field for that matter) It’s good to build a network with anyone and everyone! You never know who you may need to call to get in touch with a distant relative at a firm that is hiring. And you never know who may need to call you for some legal advice. Network with anyone and everyone and remember networking is a two way street. 

The summer after my first year of law school I did not have a legal internship, gasp! I was interested in developing a career in fundraising for political candidates so I took a job in that industry. Given that major elections don’t occur every year, I decided to seize this opportunity when I had the chance. The job was pretty flexible so I made it a goal to network with one new person each week. I asked current mentors who I should connect with and then made a list of 10 people to meet with over the summer. This was extremely successful for me. Not only were the meetings insightful, but I still chat with most of those people today. I even secured an internship from one of the women I met that summer.

My Proven Summer Networking Strategy - How I Successfully Connected With 10 New Contacts:

#1 Do your research. What type of people are you trying to connect with? Attorneys, accountants, marketing experts? Look up these types of people in your profession. Find anyone and everyone! It is easy to connect with people with commonalities. Find some people who have similar interests as you and this will help grow a relationship. Make a list of these people along with a phone number or email. 

#2 Send invitations. Draft some emails or make some calls and reach out to these people. Ask them if you can take them out to coffee or lunch and pick their brain about their career. Obviously get your planner out and plan these things in. I recommend asking people for coffee more often. That way you are respectful of their time and aren’t tying them up for lunch. Defer to where they want to go and what time. 

#3 Prep for the meeting. Develop insightful questions. Don’t show up and expect them to gush out everything they know. You need to drive the conversation. Scan their LinkedIn profile or their bio on their company website, and create questions based off this information. 

#4 The meeting. Make sure to dress appropriately and mind your manners. Always offer to pay, even though they will likely cover the bill since you are a broke college student. Be respectful of their time. Have fun!

#5 Follow up with a thank you note. ALWAYS follow up with a thank you note. Most people are very willing to mentor and help others, however, time is valuable! Sincerely thank those who are taking their time to invest in you. 

#6 Keep building relationships. Networking is never a one and done type thing. If you see them in passing, stop and talk to them. Send them an email to check in every once in a while. Pro tip: I have these adorable Kansas themed stationary cards that I will write a little update and randomly mail to people to keep up with them and remind them I exist. Connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media and regularly comment or hype them up on their accomplishments. We’re all trying our best out here!

#7 Most important! Networking is a two way street. It is give and take. If someone has taken time to invest in you, brainstorm what you can do to assist them. Additionally, someday it will be time for you to invest in someone else. Take time to do that. 

In wrapping up my take on successful networking, remember it's more than just professional connections – it's about genuine interactions. Expand your network with diverse professionals, initiate coffee chats, and add a personal touch like Kansas themed stationary cards. As you embark on this networking journey, it's not just about gaining but also contributing. So, reach out, send those thanks, and keep fostering meaningful relationships. Here’s  to your networking success – grab your planner, draft those emails, and meet new people!


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