Get a jump start on your law career: it’s never too early to start networking
Whether you’re a law student, articling or a seven-year call, networking will always be a great tool to help advance and develop your legal career. Prior to the days of social media, networking could be summed like this: attend events with business card in hand, work the crowds and identify the best people to spark up a meaningful conversation with. However, with the addition of online connections and platforms such as LinkedIn, networking now has several additional layers.
There’s no doubt, a face-to-face connection remains a key part of networking, but establishing a strong online presence and leveraging your connections could help give you an edge when searching for your next opportunity.
Use LinkedIn to your advantage
Many network connections today begin on LinkedIn. However, before you start to network online, start with the basics by optimising your LinkedIn profile:
- add keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections (these are searchable and allow people to find you);
- add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature;
- review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly;
- join relevant LinkedIn groups;
- be proactive in writing recommendations and endorsing your connections’ skills where appropriate; and
- if you’re currently looking for new opportunities, be sure to turn on your Open Candidates feature (this allows recruiters to see that you are looking for positions).
If you’re wondering if it matters how many relevant first-degree connections you have, the answer is yes. Second- and third-degree connections mean you could be one connection away from potentially millions of people. The key is to make sure your connections are relevant – quality not quantity is vital when building your network.
Tap into your current network
This doesn’t mean you can automatically interact with your second- and third-degree connections. If you’d like to touch base with a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, email your mutual first-degree contact to ask for an introduction. It’s best not to attempt to reach out to those connections on your own, in the case where you have a mutual connection to go through. Be sure to follow up with a thank you email or phone call if they take the time to introduce you, it only takes a moment.
With most business transactions timing is everything and networking is no different. You might be wondering, how soon is too early to connect?
It is perfectly acceptable to send an invitation after meeting someone and returning to the office. Same goes for connecting after a phone call or email. Remember to also accept your connections requests in a timely manner and follow up with a thank you.
To successfully leverage a new connection, don’t start off with a business or personal profile pitch. Instead, offer something of value to your connection such as an article or a link they would find helpful or relevant. Create a fulfilling line of communication before you ask for their help.
Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content, like and share updates from your connections, and join and contribute to industry groups. If you have a lot of expertise in an area, you may consider starting your own LinkedIn blog.
Be genuine, insightful and authentic; show interest in others; ask questions; and be respectful of people’s time. Keep your content relevant – don’t over post, otherwise your communications could become diluted.
Finally, introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are usually cemented in person. Take the time to get to know people by attending industry events and joining an association or professional group.
– Jordan Priest, Recruitment Associate