5 simple ways to network within your firm
Love it or hate it, being a good networker is a vital skill for all lawyers in order to gain useful contacts and further your career. Here are some simple tips to ensure that you network effectively within your firm.
Grow your network across the firm
Outside your department there’s likely to be a range of events you can get involved with to help you gain valuable exposure at your firm. Don’t just take part in the mandatory training events – sign up for the voluntary ones that will increase your profile (as well as giving you useful experience). Find out if there are committees that you can apply to join that will provide great experience and networking opportunities.
Most firms run graduate and recruitment events that are another great way of getting meeting colleagues from across the firm. Find out what social events (for example, sports teams, music clubs or charities) you can get involved with. These can give you the opportunity to interact with the most senior lawyers in the firm on a fairly regular informal basis.
Show interest by being interesting
When you meet someone new you want to be remembered in a positive light. The best way to do this is to demonstrate you’re interested in them by discussing something about their work in an interesting way. If they gave a talk, ask a pertinent question about it or discuss how you’ve applied it to a work scenario. If you’re at a training event, ask something that shows you’re paying attention to what’s being discussed. Stay in touch with those you meet with a follow-up email to ensure they remember you.
Your firm may offer a mentoring scheme – these are very useful since they provide contact with a more senior lawyer outside your department. This is a very simple way to connect with someone else in the firm who can offer you guidance and help. They may know of opportunities you can benefit from that you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.
Make the most of each department you work for and try and ensure you’re working for as many different lawyers as possible to increase your exposure. Even if you don’t think you will stay in that department, it’s worth making connections since it’s useful to have contacts in other departments as you become more senior.
Departmental events are a great way to network with colleagues and are particularly useful when you’ve just started working in a new area. It’s easier to build a working relationship with someone you’ve met in a more social situation.
Your fellow trainees are a valuable network, particularly at the start of your career when you’re deciding on specialisms and departments. Having contacts across the firm in different areas is invaluable. Some trainees may move to other firms once qualified, giving you contacts across a broader network – you never know when you may cross paths again.
Talk to everyone
Don’t just network with lawyers; get to know the secretaries, finance, administrators and those running the post room – support staff are vital to the efficient running of the firm. Be nice to everyone – it’s a small world out there! Although you want to make a good impression on those at the top, it’s also important that those lower down the food chain think the same. Partners will ask the opinions of your peers, secretaries and other lawyers in the department when making decisions within the firm, and it’s important to be well-regarded by everyone.