Working in Washington, D.C. provides one of the best networking opportunities imaginable. Every type of legal organization can be found in the city. By networking while working there you can build connections that will help whether you wish to find post-graduation work in D.C or back in New Mexico.
- Attend outside meetings
- Seek educational events
- Make lasting connections
- Carry business cards, it’s always better to have them and not need them
- Be courteous of political and ideological differences
- Don’t wait to follow up with people you wish to keep in contact with
- Work on your 30 second “elevator speech”
- Be actively engaged, but don’t dominate a conversation
How to Network in a Room Full of Strangers
An excerpt from the "Guide to Identifying Legal Opportunities" by UNMSOL Career Services.
Successful networking in a business, social, or professional setting calls for planning, participation, and practice. Very few of us look forward to the prospect of entering a room in which we know no one but hope to meet and establish viable contacts. But, planning and repetition make this process easier. To prepare:
- Understand the purpose of the event, who is hosting, and who is expected to attend.
- If the event is focused on a certain topic, learn something about the topic.
- Dress appropriately. If you are unsure of the proper attire, ask someone who would know.
- Read the local paper so that you have ready topics for small talk.
- Plan out and practice how you will introduce yourself, including why you are attending the event.
- Ensure that you have sufficient business cards.
- Remind yourself that you are doing something positive for your career by attending and that networking is enjoyable when you fully participate.
Keep in mind that if you are apprehensive, so are many others in the room. Make a positive impression by taking the pressure off of them and introducing yourself. After introducing yourself, follow the same rules of polite conversation that you would in any social setting:
- Keep your nametag visible.
- Make eye contact, nod, and smile when you speak.
- Listen when others speak and ask open-ended questions (such as those you would ask at an informational interview) that indicate your interest in what they said.
- Maintain body language that is open and receptive.
- Welcome and acknowledge newcomers to the conversation.
- Ask for business cards.
- Circulate through the room.
- End conversations gracefully.
Often the conversation ends by someone asking for a business card (e.g., “I am sure there are others here who you would like to speak with, but I would love to follow up with you regarding your practice. Do you have a card?”).