Networking is such a buzz-word we fear it has lost its true value. What is the value of networking? It is purely about learning. Building relationships, pushing yourself to strike up conversations, asking meaningful questions, and getting a personal store of contacts cannot possibly be over-rated. Students who push themselves to do these things well continue to find opportunities – even in markets like today. The Pre-Law Advising Center hosts many networking events – ones to learn effective strategies and EVERY event that we hold which leads to another contact. Place yourself at the top of the networking game by attending ones like the one where we recently hosted Pam Bloomquist.
Dean Pam Bloomquist, Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, visited UIUC on March 7th. She stressed the importance of networking and the impact it can make for students interested in law. She gave an example similar to the following: You decide to shadow an attorney and you arrive and he/she gives you a business card. One contact. You ask a question about litigation but the attorney thinks another associate could better answer your question so he/she passes you to another associate. You get another business card. Two contacts. This process could go on the entire time you are shadowing. At the end of the day, you could have multiple contacts. This is something so simple but so significant. Thus, here are some quick tips you can use to build your network:
- Ask for business cards: even if you know you don’t want to do that particular job or work at that company, you never know when you might want or need to contact that person
- After a job shadowing experience or meeting a professional, take a few notes down about what you talked about or things you had in common. Your notes will come handy in tip #3
- Follow-up with e-mails: email the professionals you met, even if it is just to thank them for your conversation. This will help the professionals remember you, allow you to stick out, and could open opportunities for you in the future,
- Address an email with a title. Example: “Good morning Ms.______”. This is more professional and appropriate than “Hello” or “Hey”
- Take advantage of opportunities to meet law school deans, professors, and professionals. When they come to campus, go meet them. They might remember you and thus take notice of your application above other applications.
Suzi Blanco is a graduate intern in the Pre-Law Advising Services office and Division of General Studies where she has focused on social media and outreach to students. She will graduate in May 2013 with her Master’s degree in Higher Education and will continue working with students as an academic advisor in the School of Chemical Sciences.