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How Important is Networking?

Networking is the very foundation of any business process. There are businesses who swear by it and think that their success can be attributed to it, but others believe that networking is a dying art. As a graduate it can be difficult to assess how important something is to be successful. If you want to be successful and get great business connections, then it’s imperative that you find a way to get yourself in front of the right people.

Networking gets you noticed:

When searching for an internship at a law firm, or applying for jobs within your niche after graduation, it would be foolish to believe that your initial interviews will be a walk in the park. There will be so many graduates, who have the same degree, who have the same grades and who are in the same league as yourself. You need to make yourself stand out to potential employers, and there is no better way to do this, than to meet with them face to face in a more relaxed networking setting. Interviews can be intense and can really bring out your less favourable qualities.

Employers in any business will seek to bring people into the team who can bring value to the firm, rather than those who solely have the necessary legal doctrines and qualifications. Having the skill sets and redeemable qualities such as emotional intelligence and business development will take you far with employers, qualities such as this can be refined and tried out in the networking arena. In order to be successful in business development and in order to refine your emotional intelligence, you must firstly have to speak to people, learn how to read them, learn what they want, and how you can take it from them. All of these skills are the core foundations of networking, which take time and practice to perfect.

The art of networking:

Any successful professional will tell you that networking and brushing shoulders with the right people is one of the key elements to career progression. Developing powerful relationships and connections can allow you to gain an insight into the industry you are seeking to become a part of, it can help you to develop the right dialogue, professional conversational style, and above all else, can help you to meet the key people who can push your career forward. Whether you speak to hiring managers, whether you speak to CEOs or like-minded professionals who can give you an industry insight, all of these types of people will sow the seeds of your career and will help you to advance.

Networking relationships need to be a two-way street, those who seek to take everything and give nothing back will soon be found out and turned away from. Instead of solely focusing on what can be gained for yourself, you must first question what is in it for your networking partner. Everybody has something that they can offer, whether this is money, time, talent or performance and in most cases, valuable industry information. It’s important to develop a networking strategy before you enter the room. Find out who will be attending the networking event, consider everybody who could be beneficial to your end goal – whether this is getting industry information, making connections or getting a job. Once you have selected the people you wish to network with, you must now consider everything that you have to offer and refine your conversational techniques in order to “schmooze” with them.

The importance of maintaining a strong and connected network:

The absolute bottom line to securing a job at a law firm or business comes down to how well connected you are – this goes beyond having many connections on Linkedin! Within your respected niche, it is likely that CEOs will know CEOs, hiring managers will know other hiring managers and so on. If you make connections with the right people, and make a positive impression on the right people, then you will be more susceptible to be considered for a job. The law industry is driven by relationships and reputation, the more people you know and make a good impression on, the more successful you will become. Making connections and networking will be an integral part of your career until the day you retire, this is not a fruitful task that will gain you your initial position. Networking can open the door to new employers, new partners and new clients. One of the most well known statistics when it comes to law employments, is that “40% of law positions are advertised, and the rest are filled within a network”. If you want to open yourself to new opportunities, then it’s integral that you put yourself out there and pave the way to your success.

Alice Porter has worked in conjunction with the Employment Lawyers in Manchester to raise awareness for the importance of networking and maintaining networking etiquette.