Building a Professional Network


NetworkA usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (such as friends or professional colleagues).
-Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

When I started this professional development series, I had envisioned devoting an entire month to certain types of posts, but finals got in the way of that plan.  However, I promise I’ll be more on top of it once finals are done!  So without further ado, here is the next installment in this series about creating a professional network.

What is a Professional Network?

A professional network essentially consists of the professionals you know in a particular field.  It can be made up of professors, internship supervisors, family, friends, some person you met in the elevator, etc.  Really, there’s no limit to who you can include in a professional network.  If you have LinkedIn, it basically consists of your connections.

Benefits of Having a Professional Network

Personally, I know I have heard about building a professional network ever since I started college.  But once I started my law school journey, I truly discovered the value of identifying people to include in your professional network.  I actually got my internship last summer through my professional network.  I’ve also gotten the opportunity to discuss the legal field and obtain valuable advice about law school through my professional network.  Professionals are always willing to talk to law students about what they do and what they look for in future employees.  Even if that person doesn’t do exactly what you’re interested in, they likely know someone else who does that and can help you out.

How to Start and Build a Professional Network

During first semester of law school, my school requires us to start a networking spreadsheet.  On this spreadsheet, you collect names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc. of professionals you know and meet.  To begin this spreadsheet, I started with a number of attorneys and other professionals in the legal field I knew prior to law school.  Honestly, I had a lot of connections even from high school so don’t think about your professional network as just people you meet in the context of law school.  In my “professional network,” I have connected with a lot of parents of people I went to school with and even some of my undergraduate professors who have connections to the law.  I also try to connect with these people on LinkedIn so make sure your page is looking professional!

Building your network can definitely be a little daunting when you’re first starting out.  Law schools always have professionals coming in and speaking to students about what they do.  Whenever I go to panel events, I try to find a connection with at least one of the speakers and talk to them after the event.  After I talk to them, I always ask for their business card in case I think of any follow up questions after the event.  Additionally, law school professors are a great resource for networking.  They’ve seen many students sit in their classrooms and a lot of the professors will definitely help you connect with any alum that work in a field that you are interested in.

What are your tips for creating a network you can look to for internships or career advice?

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