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May 14 2020

How to network like a pro

Legal Career Tips

Megan Wright

Megan Wright

How to network like a pro

Yesterday, F-LEX’s own Sophie Gould, Head of Learning and Development, chaired another fantastic virtual lunch for Paralegals, Junior Lawyers and Trainees in collaboration with LexisNexis UK and Crafty Counsel

Networking was the hot-topic this week, and the amazing Katie Barker, Corporate Associate at Addleshaw Goddard and Advisory Board of Aspire in-house junior lawyers network, shared her invaluable top tips with our attendees!

Katie kicked things off by sharing a few reasons why she enjoys networking: 

  • Finding networks that you are passionate about and have an interest in and contributing to such initiatives is extremely rewarding.

  • Networking is an amazing way to meet new people, likeminded and different!

  • It enables you to put yourself out there and grows your confidence!

Here is Katie’s 3 step guide to making the most out of networking:

1. Find the right networks to join 

Finding networks and events that  you want to be a part of can be quite a daunting prospect given the multitude of societies and events that are out there! So, first things first, Katie recommends that you make use of the platforms available to you. Katie’s favourite platforms include suggested Eventbrite, the app  Meetup, LinkedIn and Law Firm websites.

Katie also highlighted that not all events you attend have to be strictly  legal! She explained that she gets a lot from attending non-legal events, for example she is a member of the 6% Club in Manchester - which is actually for accountants! Katie enjoys being part of this group as it enables her to talk about the deals that she is involved in, as a Corporate Associate, in an informal setting which enhances her own broader understanding of her work.

Katie advocates attending events that you are interested in solo. In her own experience, attending events alone has pushed her to meet and talk to new people, which is the essence of networking after all!

TOP TIP: Remember when you are walking in alone that everyone is in the same position, you are all attending to expand your network! Also, don’t forget to chat - people love talking about themselves, and it doesn’t have to be just work-related. After all, you are at the same event, it's more than likely you will have common interests!

2. Networking breeds networking

When you have attended an event for a network or organisation that you have really enjoyed or are passionate about, volunteer!  As an in-house trainee at Network Rail, Katie didn’t have the luxury of a trainee intake that big firms offer, therefore the Lexis Nexis Aspire network for junior in-house lawyers was a great way for her to meet people in similar situations! Katie has now been a part of Aspire for just over two years, citing it as a fantastic opportunity. 

Networking breeds networking. As a student, Katie was part of Aspiring Solicitors. Now, as an Associate, she attends similar events to those which she did as a student but as a speaker. Katie also noted that it is important to network with students as they are the next generation of lawyers that you will be working with and your peers as a junior lawyer.

TOP TIP: At junior lawyer level, networking is not about bringing in work but about building relationships and creating a network.

3. Follow up to secure your connections

Following up to secure your connections after attending an event is crucial! Katie recommends using your Tube journey, tram-ride or walk home to add the people you have spoken to on LinkedIn as this will ensure that you are able to keep in touch. 

The next step is following up and maintaining the connection. Is there another event similar to that which you both attended coming up? If so, why not ask them if they are attending or if they would like to join you! Katie also stressed the importance of just going for it - if there is a group or network and you align with their goal then stay connected!

TOP TIP: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished and professional, as this will likely be the first and only point of reference for the contacts you pick up!

Crowd sourcing more tips from our attendees

Last week’s speaker Charlotte Lakin endorsed Katie’s approach of attending events alone. She stressed the importance of being brave as you never know who you might meet!

Sophie recommended practising phrases for moving onto a different group in-front of the mirror. Although it may seem an awkward thing to do at first, it really helped Sophie develop some good phrases that she can now readily put to use!

Remembering people's names was something that our attendees said that they sometimes struggle with. In this situation, be honest and admit that you’re not so great with names. Don’t be afraid to ask someone their name a second time -  they will value your honesty! Ben White from Crafty Counsel added  that he often looks up the guest list of the event he is attending in advance to make sure he has done his due diligence!

F-LEX’s own Miruna also shared a few tips that have helped make networking a little less daunting and overwhelming for her:

  • Remember that networking is still networking, even if it is within your own organisation. As a paralegal, Miruna benefitted from organising coffee dates with members of the legal team - this still felt like networking, but in a more  comfortable environment.

  • Tapping into the experiences of those around you is a great way to pick up some networking skills. Miruna has learnt a lot from her F-LEX colleagues, especially Sophie, our resident networking pro, who has been incredibly supportive!

According to our attendees, Wednesday lunchtimes are becoming the highlight of the lockdown week - particularly because of our competitive weekly quiz, congratulations to this week’s winner Phillip!

Don’t miss out, sign up here for next Wednesday’s session using the button below!