Networking is a critical factor for success of a lawyer. Have you heard your friends cribbing about how some people have unfair advantage because their uncles are law firm partners or judges, so they get everything effortlessly? Basically, your friend was complaining about the network of some people’s uncles network.
That’s just like complaining that some people have more money than you. Is it very useful to complain? I would rather focus on getting rich.
Network and influence is a currency. Just like you can accumulate more money in your bank, you can accumulate network capital.
Networking is not just adding people on LinkedIn or giving out your visiting card. That’s exposure. Real networking is having a good will, good wishes, and support of other people. You have to earn it.
Just like you need money in the bank to live a decent life, you also need a good professional network in order to have a great career.
Build rapport with people. Impress the relevant people. Take the first step and provide value to them. This is the beginning of creating your professional network. You will need their help.
Why will they help you if they do not like you? Do not pester them. Be agreeable and charming. Be helpful. Be original and interesting. They will notice you and like you. But before doing all that, figure out who are the people you need to network with.
I advice our students to identify 30 people who they would like to impress over the next one year. You need to select people carefully.
Let’s say you want a job in tax team of JSA or a similar big firm. If I was in your place, I will not only try to impress tax lawyers from JSA but all the other firms. I would also add some independent tax law practitioners and boutique tax law firm partners to my list. Maybe even some important young authors on tax laws.
Thereafter, throughout the year, I will share important updates with them that they will find useful and insightful. I will attend the events they attend, and if possible try to present a paper there. I may even volunteer to help the organizers of such an event, which would likely give me access and privileges. I will volunteer my time and effort to any of those people should they need such resources. You will be surprised, successful people always need more resources of one kind or the other.
Most people do not go to such lengths to build their professional network. However, building a professional network is a critical aspect of succeeding as a lawyer. If you find this hard, how are you going to find clients for your practice? When and if you make a partner in a law firm one day, you will be expected to bring in work for the firm. Are you going to be able to do that? That will be determined by your networking skills.
Hence, it is critical to learn to network while you are in law school. Not only will this help you to get the job of your dreams, but it will build a habit that will go a long way in making you a successful lawyer.
How to connect with new people
There is no doubt that people have to have a way to discover you and understand what you can do for them. There are many ways to do this. However, remember that the quality of interaction is more valuable than just quantity.
The most well known and perhaps well-received way is face to face meetings. These meetings work best when you come through a good reference. As a law student, you can ask lawyers for advice and mentorship. This is very acceptable in the legal profession. For this, you can request for personal meetings. Just say “can I have 10 minutes of your time? I just wanted some advice on how I can grow in my career.” While some lawyers will say no, many will say yes.
Even law firm partners and independent lawyers, especially on the transaction side, do such business development meetings regularly. Sometime they will travel to other countries and meet the lawyers and industry people there and share information about their practice. If you want to be as big as them, you need to take networking seriously.
However, there are other ways in which you can reach out to more people at once. Speaking in conferences is one very good example. So would be blogging, being active on social media such as Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, as well as youtube.
You can also become part of various communities and groups, through which you can build trust and connections fast. I know some lawyers who get many clients through networks like Art of Living, ISKCON and various religious communities. There are others who are approached because they are members of certain clubs, industry organizations or even political parties.
There are indeed innumerable ways to build quality connections that involve mutual trust and recognition. That is the very definition of networking.
LawSikho.com is a very powerful community for networking. You get access to people from different backgrounds and lawyers from various levels of seniority, who study together in the same course. People help each other to learn, ask questions and answer them, engage in debates and build amazing lifelong relationships.
More than that, in all our premium courses, we guide people to do networking through small but effective exercises which are very much part of the course. Networking exercises! We also encourage our students to go for informational interviews, which help them to find mentors and widen their professional networks.
Here are our upcoming courses. Prices go up from 15th April, so hurry:
Executive Certificate Courses
- Certificate Course in Advanced Corporate Taxation here