Now that you have network connections, keeping a good relationship with them will ensure you can use the connection later if you need to. What’s the point of connections if you aren’t actually going to use them or maintain them? As a law student, I’m always a little afraid that I’m going about things the wrong way when it comes to connections but so far, everything has turned out fine.
Learning to talk to someone to make a network connection is not something that comes easily. I’m still learning how to perfect a conversation (though I don’t think you can) to make an impression on someone. There are usually a few topics I stick to when I’m talking to a potential connection regardless of where I’ve met them:
1. What is your job?
2. How did you get to your current position?
3. What do you like about law? What do you dislike about law?
Questions like these open up a lot of potential to further your conversation. If someone says “oh, I was in the military and decided after to go to law school”, you can ask about their military background and how it has helped them in the legal field. The sorority girl in me is really helpful for talking to connections. During recruitment we’re taught how to ask questions to hopefully get a person to open up. I use the same formula for networking, too. Another sorority rule that still stands is: Don’t talk about the 4 Bs: Booze, Boys, Bank Accounts, and Bush. Never talk about alcohol, relationships, money, or politics when making a network connection. The last one is a little bit more flexible depending on the situation. If you meet at a political event, you’re pretty safe to bring up non-controversial political issues.
After you have a connection, you have to maintain it. LinkedIn is great for maintaining network connections on a general level. It allows the connection to see what you’re up to and you can see what they are doing. I like to go with a more personal connection depending on what came out of the conversation. If I have a business card, I may thank them for meeting me. If we had a connection over practicing, or wanting to practice, a certain type of law, I may ask to have coffee. Maintaining connections is important because you don’t want to be forgotten when it comes time to get a job.
I think the most important rule to remember when you’re trying to make a connection is to be yourself. Don’t lie about who you are or what’s on your resume. Don’t lie about your interests or try to be who you think they want you to be. In the end, it doesn’t do anyone any good. In the professional world, it’s well known that people have different interests and beliefs and in my experience, those differences are respected. You’re more likely to be respected if you are truthful and yourself than if you are fake and lie. Never be ashamed of who you are and be proud of your accomplishments!