Year after year, Diversity Week has been my favorite event at the Law School, offering talented speakers, compelling programs, and lots of amazing connections with people in our community.
Diversity Week offers an outstanding opportunity to network, and I wanted to offer some tips on networking. Too often, networking is seen as small-talk and offering of business cards. It is better to think of networking as relationship-building. You want to connect with people; you want those people to remember you in a positive way; and you want those people to look forward to seeing you again in the future.
So without further ado, here are my networking tips for Diversity Week and beyond:
- Be yourself. You can’t really make meaningful connections with people if you’ve scrubbed away your personality. Staying professional is always essential, but there are ways to be professional while also being yourself. If you come across as unnatural, it can be difficult for people to feel comfortable with you; in the worst-case scenario, you can come across as dishonest!
- You don’t have to talk about law. It might be obvious, but it is not mandatory that you discuss legal topics at networking events. You might find better connections discussing things you really enjoy. Do you brew craft beer? Do you play cribbage? Did you study abroad? Any of these topics might foster much stronger connections than sticking to expected legal conversations. Here in Connecticut, it seems like discussing what town you live in is always a good conversation starter.
- Focus on what makes you unique. Especially when networking for a job, it is easy to blend into the crowd and not stand out. At Diversity Week, the theme of the week gives you a great segue into the authentic you, the path you took to become the person you are today. Take advantage of this opportunity to tell your story.
- Be a “connector.” If you are talking to someone and see someone else who you know, pull them over, introduce everyone, and bring everyone into the conversation.
- Follow up. If you have a conversation with an attorney at an event, send them a quick email following-up on your conversation the next day.
- Take advantage of easy conversation starters. Waiting in line for food, sitting next to someone at a table, these pose great opportunities to introduce yourself to the person next to you and start a conversation.