Soft skills give people a massive advantage over others who choose not to develop theirs. After all, once you’re done with your studies, and you’ve got the license to prove your professional skills, it’s your ability to maximize them through communication, business writing, presentation, and public speaking that will set you apart. Among the many soft skills that are worth focusing on right now, nothing quite beats networking in improving your prospects after graduation.
Building your network takes a lot of time and effort, which is why starting early is always a good idea. Introducing yourself to the right people and building valuable relationships can also give you direction in your career.
That said, there are three essential tips you need to know if you are to be successful in your networking endeavors. Anybody can go up to anyone and make an impression, but you want to make sure that yours is positive, lasting, and beneficial to your goals.
Plan It Out
Setting goals and having a vision will always be the backbone of efficient networking. You need to know what you’re aiming to achieve by doing this. Do you want to meet potential clients or employers? Are you keen on starting your own business after a couple of years of practice? Do you want to secure your first job? Be clear and concise about what you want and set measurable goals that will allow you to accomplish them. Identify who in your current network has the connection to the people you want to meet and companies you might consider.
Reaching out to them could involve asking them out for lunch, attending campus events, and volunteering for certain organizations. Be as specific as possible by creating an objective for each person you meet and the activity you participate in. If you are a lawyer dealing in real estate, you might have a different purpose from one who deals with a personal injury lawsuit. If you’re unsure what kind of people you will meet, commit to meeting a certain number of people and exchanging business cards with them.
Make sure to write down these strategies and refer to them regularly as you put your plan into action.
Work on Your Elevator Pitch
Crafting an elevator pitch is one of the most difficult tasks professionals often have to do. However, arming yourself with a compelling one is a sure way to get the attention of important people. This is because many professionals just starting don’t know how to present their value to others effectively in just thirty seconds. They go on this long speech about what they’d done to university, what skills they’re honing, and why they think they can provide value to the industry they belong to. You have to understand that even in networking events, it’s rare that people will gladly give you half an hour to hear your life story. What they want is a quick and confident answer that they can believe.
Take a moment to consider what you’ll say in response to someone asking you what you do for a living. The most basic response is your job title or the course you’re taking. It could be a law student, associate, or the specific field of law you specialize in. While this isn’t technically wrong, this answer doesn’t make you interesting or memorable. What you’ll want is to shift the focus on the problems you’re solving and the people you’re helping. This way, you’re still talking about yourself, but you’re emphasizing the important role you play in others’ lives and in your company.
Setting this as your guideline for your elevator pitch gives people a better idea of what you do. More importantly, it opens an opportunity for further discussion that can lead to a breakthrough.
Find the Opportunity Everywhere
Contrary to popular belief, networking isn’t restricted to career events. You don’t have to treat it like another class you have to attend in order to graduate. The most effective networking opportunities come organically through activities that bring people together. Think running clubs, volunteer organizations, and random coffee shop chitchat. You can be sharing something important to you on social media, and a friend of a friend comments. Keep up the conversation and develop new friendships. Your future boss might be a dog lover and volunteer for the shelter you frequently visit. While strategy is key, you have to simply put yourself out there and be aware of opportunities as they arise.
Networking neither has to be scary nor flashy. Make it a point to present yourself well to everyone, and you’ll likely find your good fortune behind the most unexpected circumstances.
Never Underestimate Networking
You might have embarrassing and uncomfortable moments in your first attempts to widen your network, but that’s okay. What’s important is that you understand the value of networking, and you’re doing your best to make it work for you. Difficult as it may sometimes be, the only thing you’ll regret more is missing out on what could’ve been your breakthrough as a lawyer.