What is Networking?
Networking is the process of interacting and meeting people who are usually of a similar interest or profession. Events such as dinners, talks and workshops provide the typical places where networking is most beneficial.
Networking allows you to establish contacts in various industries and also can provide valuable insight into certain professions. Through networking a student can learn from more experienced individuals and perhaps gain work experience with someone already employed in a career you aspire to.
Essential Networking Tips
1. Introduce Yourself
Always make eye contact and shake hands with the person you have just met. Enquire about them more than yourself and gradually let them know your reason for attending the event and what you hope to gain from it. Ask them what sort of work they are involved in and perhaps discuss your own past experiences or interests.
2. Ask Questions
The only way to get to know someone else is to ask them genuine and thoughtful questions. It’s always best to walk away from a conversation having allowed the other person to speak more than you did. Not only will they feel great about the conversation, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about him/her. Specific questions let the other person know you are listening and can engage with the information they have told you.
3. Don’t be afraid to join in.
There is nothing wrong with joining a conversation and waiting for a natural break in the chatter to introduce yourself. In most cases, the people who are already speaking will enjoy the interruption because it gives them a chance to meet someone new. If you sense that you’ve entered into a serious discussion, it’s okay to politely excuse yourself (but maybe provide a reason).
4. Be switched on – Listen and remember
Often when part of a society or particular profession you shall come across people more than once. Remembering names often gives a really good impression and helps to develop a more personal relationship. It is always important to listen to the other person and be prepared to ask questions on anything you find interesting. Whilst wine is often involved, don’t let the distractions catch you off guard!
5. Be Friendly
Don’t interrupt conversations or talk over people. Remain friendly and relaxed, remembering to smile! Treat new networking relationships as you’d treat your friendships. Build rapport and trust that after time the relationship shall yield benefits. Formalities shall often depend on the occasion or scenario but remember it isn’t an interview, being friendly goes a long way.
A little research goes a long way in networking. If you know a little about the chambers or firm who you will be speaking to, or even about individual barristers, this can make you stick in their mind as someone who knows their stuff and is genuinely interested in their work!