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7 Ways to Have Fun & Make Your Network Grow

There is one word that nobody trying to find a job or advance in their career is looking to hear less than Networking. It’s a buzz word, so often used that it instantly clicks peoples’ brains to the off position. But if networking is so ubiquitous, then why are so many people so bad at it?

Networking, in it’s lowest form, is simply making basic, human connections with people in the community. That’s it! It’s getting to know people and getting people to know you and having them like you enough for them to remember you. Networking in positions where you need to make sales, like as a lawyer in private practice, will become even more beneficial, because not only will you be able to use your connections to find employment or opportunities for professional advancement, you will also be able to use your own personal network to drive business and/or get earmarked for work assignments.

As a lawyer, networking starts in law school. Your fellow classmates will one day be your future colleagues, future clients, and future bosses. And since everyone that you meet could someday be a potential client or be connected to someone that can get you further on your path toward your goals, you might as well enjoy the time that you spend building relationships and making acquaintances and friends!

Are you at a loss for fun or interesting ways to meet new people and build relationships? Here’s a couple of ideas to help get you started.

1. Young Professionals Organizations

Young Professional organizations oftentimes give you the opportunity to show your leadership skills, when if you are just entering your field, you may not get the same opportunities at work. In addition, your work with these organizations may satisfy your need to give back to the community, if you aren’t able to do that with your job, as well!

If you live in the Twin Cities, here are some great examples:

AZUL (Minnesota Zoo)

GenYWCA

The Scene (Hennepin Theatre Trust)

Young Professionals Minneapolis

YPro (St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce)

2. Non-profit organization Boards

There is something to be said of being on the Board of a non-profit organization. Being an active, engaged, and thoughtful member of a Board will give you the opportunity to connect with fellow Board members as well as members of the community. Board service also gives you the opportunity to work on projects that you are passionate about!

Interested in Board service? Check out the Minnesota Council of Non-Profit’s job/volunteer board!

3. Sports teams

One great way to meet people is to join a sports team. Basketball, slow-pitch softball, kickball – whatever it is that you find fun. Not only can you find it enjoyable  and get in a little exercise to help reduce your stress, you can show your teammates    that you a fun person to be around, you work well on a team, are reliable, and have passion! Check with your employer to see if they ave any established teams or what their policy is for sponsoring a team. If you still live near the law school that you went to, they may have an alumni team that you an join, too!

4. Affinity bar organization galas and events

So, maybe sports aren’t your thing. Instead of putting on a team uniform, throw on    our favorite formal clothes and attend the galas put on by the various affinity bars or   other organizations around town! Some of them likely have a cost associated with attendance, but the money generally goes to a good cause! It’s important to note     that you usually don’t have to belong to the affinity group that is hosting the event, as long as you have a ticket!

For links to the local affinity bar association websites, click here!

5. Peer Mentor groups

Friends of friends are also a good place to start! Gather a group of people who you would consider peers and discuss topics that are important to being successful in your job! You can talk about time management techniques, balancing work with having children, generational differences in communication, or effective branding techniques.

6. Meetup.com

Are you brand new to the Twin Cities and don’t know very many people? Check out www.meetup.com to find groups of people who are interested in doing the same things that you like doing! Groups in the Twin Cities include a Salsa dancing group, language conversation groups, “The Monthly Pint Group”, and even a paranormal research society. Browse through the available groups, and if you don’t see one that you like, make your own!

7. Diversity in Practice events

And there is always Diversity in Practice events! Come to our annual Summer Social, sign up for our Mentoring Circles or Ambassador Program, or join one of our committees!

Do you build connections with people through any of these ways? What other fun ways do you get to know people?

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8 Tips for Success in Your First Year of Law School

With the unoffical end of summer gone by, the official beginning of school is here for students all around the country. For many law students entering school, this can be a stressful time. Perhaps you have moved your family across the country, set aside a stable career, or are beginning your 18th first day of school in a row. In any event, you are starting on a journey that is bound to be different than your last endeavor. Law school can take up so much of your time (and money), that we want to make sure that you are equipped with the tools to do it right and find success!

1. Get Organized.

If you aren’t a planner, you need to become one. Organization will be key to reaching your potential in law school and keeping track of classes, assignments, and other appointments will be vital. In the beginning build into your plan that all that you do will take you longer than you can imagine. Some classes will come easier than others but all will require time.

2. Effort now, or pay later.

Unlike what you may have experienced as an undergrad, you cannot wait to study and outline your courses.  If you wait until exam time to figure this out, you will end up paying with your grades. Try different approaches to studying and class preparation, but make sure to not just go with the flow! Find study methods that work best for you and stick to it.  Your new best friends may all love to study together, but make sure not to compromise your success, if that method doesn’t work for you!

3. Gain respect, not friends.

Become involved in activities that you are truly committed to and gain respect from those communities.  While you need to have interests that renew your energy, be strategic about those and ensure that you are professional, even in the school setting. Being connected to your classmates is crucial to finding success after law school.  These are your future colleagues and your reputation is formed now.

4. Treat networking as a course.

The old adage about “it’s about who you know” isn’t completely wrong. Meeting lawyers at events like bar association events gives you the opportunity to build connections with in the legal community who can give you good advice on doing well in law school, getting a job after law school, and succeeding in that position.

5. Focus on your grades.

Seriously. With the current hiring market and the reality that is the new normal in the legal industry of running a firm with fewer attorneys, making sure you are as high in your class as you can be is vital, even if you are in a Top 14 law school.

6. Don’t overjoin.

No matter how many extra-curricular activities you have, being in the bottom half of your class will make it extremely difficult to find employment. Find a few activities that are meaningful and interesting to you and do them well. Signing on to too many activities will not only leave you stressed out, it won’t give you enough time to study or sleep.

7. Visit Career Services.

Prepare your resume and sample cover letters as you would a brief.  Then visit your Career planning office for review and advice on planning your career. The general rule is that Career Services can begin meeting 1L students on November 1. Try to get into their office soon after to start thinking about your plans for next summer! Most legal employers cannot accept your applications or resumes until December 1, but when that rolls around be ready to go!

8. Take some time for yourself.

Take a break! It is important not to lose sight of things that you were interested in before starting law school. Exercise, watch reality TV or your favorite movie, play a mindless video game, or attend the latest play at your local theater. It’s easy to get bogged down in everything that you have to do, but maintaining parts of your life that you enjoyed before law school is important to remaining who you are!

What other tips do you have for incoming 1Ls? Is there anything that worked well for you in your first year?

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in For Students, Tips & Tricks

 

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