Second-year law student Christianah Babajide, interviewed top law students across the country to dig out the best and most effective tips for newbie networkers.
Now, more than ever, you will hear a lot about the importance of “networking.” In other walks of life, networking simply means getting to know people but the meaning weighs heavier for law students. Nowadays, networking can either make or break your legal career.
Networking events usually consists of the attendees networking in a room over lunch or canapes, and demonstrating their commercial awareness, or lack of it, to big-shot City Lawyers.
Whether you like it or not, as law students, you have to network, network and network some more. But If you play your cards right, you can find yourself networking your way to the top of your legal career.
Here are CityCareers top networking tips:
Have you ever heard that quote, ‘A comfort Zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there’? The same can be applied to networking. When attending a networking event, be prepared to venture outside your comfort zone by approaching people you’re not used to talking to. These people are legal professionals in their fields who can help you on your legal career. Talk to them and you’ll be surprised what you can learn and gain from a conversation with a lawyer.
Networking is one of the most effective ways of securing work experience. Many students have secured work experience and mini-pupillages just from networking with a lawyer. The latter is usually easier to secure, as barristers are self-employed and can decide who they want to shadow them. Don’t be shy to admit you don’t have a lot of legal experience, showcase the efforts you have been doing and then ask them if they can help you. The worst thing they can say is No, and even then you just have to keep trying. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
- Seek Advice
Remember, the trainee solicitors were in your shoes not too long ago, therefore, they would be able to offer the best advice. Don’t be afraid to approach them at a networking event as I am sure some would even be glad to share their nuggets of wisdom with you. Some may be able to offer useful study tips that worked for them or share with you what they would have done differently during their career into Law. If you listen intently, you may be able to have a smoother career journey.
Some students think networking events is about being in a room full of strangers and circling the room of professionals. However, it’s important to remember that networking doesn’t just happen at networking events. The majority of networking happens in pubs, on public transport and over the internet. LinkedIn is a great place to start to network. Not only does it give you a chance to showcase your academic excellence and legal experience but it also gives you the chance to connect with legal professionals on a professional level. Other social networking sites are Facebook and Twitter, which are equally good places to network. Just be careful what you say on these sites!
- Stay in Touch
Find a way to stay in touch – you can do this by getting the person’s business card or adding them on LinkedIn. At a networking event, asking for a person’s card after you’ve spoken to them is perfectly acceptable. It is not too forward and it allows you to plant the seed of relationship, long after the conversation has ended. After the event, you can even send them a follow-up email to express your gratitude towards them for attending and being generous with their time – this will surely leave a good lasting impression on them!
The most important networking tip is to simply show up. Don’t talk yourself out of attending a networking event just because you’re intimidated, show up and you’ll find that networking isn’t as hard as you initially thought. Good luck!
Christianah Babajide is a legal journalist and aspiring barrister. She is studying her Bachelor of Laws at The City Law School. On behalf of City University London’s Careers Service, she hopes to write event reviews and be sharing crucial tips she has learnt over the years in her LLB degree on this blog. Christianah also writes for Lawbore as a Future Lawyer.