Professionalism and Networking
One of the most important aspects of career development and starting a new program is learning how to be a professional and to network. This week I will be offering a session on professionalism and networking. If you don’t have an opportunity to attend the session, I hope, through this article, to provide an overview of how to learn networking skills and what it takes to be a professional.
Networking is an organized method of making links from the people you know to the people they know. Basically, it means to exchange information, advice, contacts or support. Networking is a process of building relationships that can be crucial to building a career or friendships. Most often it is not only important to know about your career interests, but also to know those who work within your area of specialty. People frequently get jobs through people they know and the connections that they can make. Many people hesitate to contact others for fear of imposing or asking for help. The reality is that most people are happy to do something for someone else, if asked.
How to Begin
The important elements of networking can be summed up in four simple steps: 1.Contact the person, 2. Follow up after your meeting, 3. Take the suggested action steps, 4. Follow up with the contact regularly. If the contact welcomes the initial networking meeting and it goes well, they will want to hear about your progress. Remember that networking is a give-and-take process; offer any contacts you have and back up this offer with action. You are in a great position to network based on the law program that you are in. Alumni like to help students from their program. Even if you don’t work with the alum, they might know someone to match you up with. So don’t hesitate to contact people from your area that might have attended your law program or undergraduate institution.
Robert Ball, the author of Professionalism Is For Everyonel: Five Keys to being a true Professional, says about professionalism that, “When you choose to be professional, you are leaving mediocrity and apathy behind. You are embarking on a lifelong journey of continual growth and the pursuit of excellence.” Poor professionalism can undo all of your networking hard efforts. Additionally, people want to work with co-workers that they are not embarassed to introduce to other businesses. Presented below is a list of do’s and don’ts of professionalism. Remember that you not only represent yorself, but also your school or business when it comes to being a profesional.
Please feel free to stop by my office for more ideas and resources on networking and professionalism. Also, joining clubs and associations within the university and the law school are great ways to kick off your networking and professional skills.
Professionalism and Networking Do’s and Don’ts:
• Don’t talk about inappropriate topics in the office or with staff
• Don’t dress like you are attending a friend’s social event when professionalism is called for
• Don’t overdo it. Be yourself
• Do act like an adult
• Do become interested in topics being discussed
• Do continue to meet people
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help