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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Friday, September 24, 2004
Posted 9:54 AM by Brian D.
Always Remember Networking

The Office of Professional Development is always stressing the need for networking. The point of networking is to get to know people that can help you out in a particular moment. That moment can be for anything: hiring you for a job, finding an expert on a particular point of law, looking for a mentor, getting good Colts tickets. The purpose of networking is to create a social web of contacts that know you and be willing to assist you. Here are a few points to keep in mind.

Lesson the first: remember that any situation can be a networking opportunity.
Last night I went to the Hobnob that I told you about on Tuesday. For a socio-politico junkie like myself I consider such events to be fun. My only purpose was to see what the Hobnob was about and to get dinner. I casually chatted with the lady next to me on the steps as we ate dinner. What is the point you ask? She discovered I was a third year law student and I discovered she was a staff attorney in a state court. Though the courts are not planning on hiring anyone she asked me to send her my resume just to have it on file in case an opening suddenly appears. The Hobnob was not meant to be a formal networking event, yet it was one by sheer happenstance. Always keep in mind that any opportunity is a potential chance to network.

Lesson the second: remember that networks spread out from a single point.
You, peon law student, meet A. A knows B. B knows C and so on and so forth. Many in the legal profession are more than willing to introduce you to people they know. My dinner mate on the stairs saw a friend who was an IU-Indy classmate with her. She introduced him to me. In less than 10 minutes I knew two practicing attorneys in the state of Indiana. Remember I was not even trying to network.

Lesson the third: always have a card handy.
On this one I failed. I simply have not bothered to get business cards yet, much less carry them around. As students we can get business cards that state the important information: name, school, year we intend to get our degree, a phone number/email address. Four to five simple bits of information on a little piece of paper is so critical to us. Though the old standby of pen and cocktail napkin did work to get an email address, it is not the best impression. I will drop by Kinkos later to place an order for some real cards.

Lesson the fourth: always make a good first impression to everyone. EVERYONE!
I have seen some lawyers and students treat other lawyers and judges with great respect and treat lower level employees like three day old trash. Do not do that! That implies you respect only those with power. That is very selfish thinking. It is also very dangerous thinking. Why? How do you know the person you are dealing with right now is not someone who can help you later on? Networks can work in two ways, for you and against you. If you treat someone like trash, the word will get around. This lesson also ties into the first lesson. My dinner mate and I did not have our first impressions with each other on the steps of the Hobnob. Our first impressions were on the dance floor of a Broad Ripple club Wednesday night! Wednesday night I was dancing with a nice woman who was a complete stranger. Thursday night the stranger was a lawyer requesting my resume. When was I truly networking: Thursday night or Wednesday? Always make that good first impression as you will never know when it will help you out down the road.

So ends the lessons.

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