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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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Program Rewind: When Generations Collide

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”  

– George Orwell

With the each new generation entering the workforce, comes new styles of communicating, new perspectives on the world, and new ideas of what is considered the right way to get things done. Oftentimes, ignorance about these varied ways of communication can lead to tension in the workplace and sometimes unfortunate perceptions of entire generations. Who is to say that communicating only via e-mail with colleagues is wrong, even when they are just down the hall? Who is to say that holding a meeting to prepare for the upcoming Board meeting is a waste of time? Each of these concepts is actually common among the generation of people that use these methods the most – Millenials and Baby Boomers, respectively.

Recently, Diversity in Practice brought in Amy Lynch, of BridgeWorks, to come address a group of attorneys as a part of our Professional Development Series. Amy stressed the importance meeting in the middle when working with colleagues from different generations. No generation has a monopoly on what is right, rather, each style of communication has its separate contexts, which make it applicable to daily life.

Do you find yourself working with people from different generations? Here are some examples on how to meet them in the middle.

Traditionalists (born prior to 1946)

  • Respect that many Traditionalists view their legacy at work as very important.
  • Face time is key. Look to Traditionalists as mentors and allow them to pass on their knowledge to you, while showing your worth by imparting knowledge about how to use new pieces of technology that your office has implemented or other things that may be beneficial for them to know.

Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)

  • Baby boomers entered the work force before the idea of a work/life balance.
  • While Boomers may have mastered the art of voice mail, digital everything may still be a little beyond their comfort zone. If you need something reviewed, try sending it via email and following up with a paper copy.
  • Baby boomers love to meet, and holding meetings may be important to gain their buy-in. For those of you who dread meetings, be prepared with a precise agenda that limits the need for follow-up meetings.

Generation X (born 1965 – 1981)

  • Gen X generally yearns for efficiency and doesn’t want to stay in the office all day. Limit ineffective meetings and be prepared.
  • Feedback is important, and often wanted immediately. Set a time with Gen Xers to determine the best time for feedback.

Millenials (born 1982 – 2000)

  • Millenials often do not look at work as a function of life, rather as part of their reality, and thus want their work to have meaning. Make sure to show them the importance of what they are doing.
  • Millenials grew up in the era of the 24 news cycle and the Internet. They are used to quick and constant communication and being able to be heard with the click of the mouse. Give Millenials an outlet for their voice to be heard.

Interested in more ways to learn how to work with other generations? Check out the books written by the Bridgeworks team:

Also, check out our Facebook page for photos of the Amy Lynch event!

What have you noticed about other generations’ communication styles? How have you adapted your behavior accordingly?

 

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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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DIVERSITY: 5 Tips to Doing Diversity Right

If you’re finding this blog and Twin Cities Diversity in Practice for the first time, you’re probably wondering, “Why do you do what you do?” We at Twin Cities Diversity in Practice know that diversity and inclusion in the legal profession is vital, not only for the health of the industry, but also to best serve clients and the community. There are many facets to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, but we work primarily on diversity from a race and ethnicity perspective. We have strategically included concepts of inclusion into our work, because a more inclusive workplace helps break down barriers that people of color face in the current legal landscape.

Through our efforts in diversity and inclusion, we have found some key guidelines to work by that all people who are in management, recruiting, and diversity/inclusion work should take into consideration in their practice.

1. Avoid tokenism.

Identity is complicated! Asking an individual to speak for an entire community is not only a lot of pressure, but can be misleading. For instance, the experience of a Latina who grew up in an urban community is different than a Latina from suburban community. Or maybe it isn’t. Every person brings a different vantage point to the table, given their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion (the list goes on). So perhaps that Latina from the city has more in common with the Latina from the suburbs, than she would with another urban Latina, due to other parts of her identity. But because we have chosen to only look at her gender, ethnicity, and location, and haven’t gotten to know her or her story, it is not possible to make such a conclusion.

2. Move past “Check-the-Box” mentality.

Making and measuring progress is important, but how do we define progress? Reaching a certain number or percentage of people of color in your department is great goal, but that metric is superficial. Work to dig deeper with your metrics to focus on differences in background and thought, or diversity within diversity. Also, are you just hiring your way to your threshold? Making sure the people of color within your department are a comfortable, successful, contributing members of your workplace and corporate culture, are allowed to effectively bring aspects of themselves into client relations and work product, and can see potential for growth within your organization are important for retention, morale, and employee buy-in and success.

3. Intentionally balance access.

Access is the mechanism which allows people to succeed. Repeated opportunity to prove your skills to senior attorneys, have face time with clients, and get regular feedback are all important to being a successful lawyer. Privilege that you are born with oftentimes gives certain individuals a higher chance of gaining access, because if a junior attorney has a similar interest or background as more senior attorneys in your organization, they’re more likely to be able to find their way into an inner circle. They’re more likely to be able to speak the “code” that others at the firm speak. They’ll understand idiomatic, regional, and class-based references that give them extra opportunities to prove their worth, socially. Being aware of these biases, which are likely unconscious, and working to intentionally balance access, is important because it allows all young attorneys the opportunity to succeed within your organization.

4. Focus on innovation.

Nobody is doing everything right. Some firms and organizations may be on the right track, but diversity and inclusion is still a major industry concern. Diversity has been lacking in the legal industry since its formation, so institutional change may be needed. Implement relevant best practices, but since the current structure isn’t working, its up to you to break the mold! Work with your organization to decide what your approach will be. You’ll never know the results until you try it.

5. Be authentic.

Nothing is worse than an organization that doesn’t practice what they preach. You may not know everything there is to know about diversity and inclusion, but if you truly care about creating a workplace that is safe and accepting of everyone, people will take notice and your efforts will shine through. Authenticity goes a long way in complicated tasks like diversity and inclusion efforts, and knowing when you don’t know the answer and asking for help can overshadow your subject knowledge deficit.

Which of these tasks will help bring your organization to the next level? What other tips do you have? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

 

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