You know the drill; you’ve just finished a full week of uni, you have a part-time job that’s going to consume your weekend, and coursework deadlines quickly approaching too-the last thing you want to be doing is filling your Friday night with the networking event that your university are putting on, that you’ve no doubt had countless emails about. I get it, I’ve been there too- trust me!
However, as a student who has been there- a second year student, I want to stress the importance of networking, and my top tips for successful networking! I’m definitely not saying that I know it all by the way, but I have been to several networking events and I’m starting to get more confident now! The first thing to remember is that the professionals at the event have chosen to be there- they have taken time out of their day to come and talk to you as students, so don’t feel embarrassed or hesitant to talk to them, they want to be there! Secondly, you have probably all heard stories of that one really lucky student who secured a training contract or pupillage which started from a conversation that they had at a networking event- unfortunately, it’s not going to happen like that for all of us, but there will be plenty of opportunity for having conversations that can lead to a few days work experience; mini-pupillage, vacation schemes etc. I know plenty of people, including myself, who have gotten experience through networking! Even if it doesn’t get you experience, it gets you experience in talking to professionals- they will be able to give you tips on what they did to make themselves stand out on applications, where you should be up to in terms of applications etc, and it is just a way of getting yourself known to people who are in the profession.
My top tips for successful networking:
- Don’t be afraid to talk to people- These people are here to help, they want to have conversations with you, and would much rather have a conversation with someone who is confident enough to talk to them, rather than someone who is very quiet and doesn’t really have anything to say!
- Remember that professionals are people too- I find it very easy to get caught up in the fact that I am talking to a barrister and they are in the position that I want to be in in a few years, and sometimes feel a little intimidated by that. Remember that they’re people too- they were once in your position, and have lives outside of their professional capacity too!
- Be confident- be willing to talk about what you have done and where you’re aiming to be in a few years time. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do with your degree- talk to them, have a chat about possible options, it’s what they’re there for!
I hope that helps, and you recognise the importance of networking! Honestly, I cannot recommend it enough; have a chat with people who have been in your shoes, take their advice, take the opportunities that they’re offering and just have a chat and get yourself known by people who are in the profession that you aspire to be in the future! Have fun!