Five Easy Ways to Quickly Build Your Professional Network

By Hillary Mantis

Let's face it — it's hard to stand out when you are a law student. Your resumes are similar, your classes are similar, even your internships can be similar. How do you stand out to employers, when everyone is doing the same thing?

Why not try some easy ways to build your network? You will at the very least make some contacts, and have a more interesting resume.

Here are a few simple things to try this semester:

1. Write or contribute to a blog: Publishing is impressive — it gets your name out in the public, gives you a writing credential, and an area of expertise. Many law schools now have great blogs published by students  —see if you can get involved, and start writing for one that interests you. Legal websites and publications are often looking for contributors as well.

2. Join a Bar Association Committee as a student member:  Most likely, your local bar association offers free, or very low cost student memberships. Often, these memberships will entitle you to join a practice area committee. Interested in entertainment law? Join their entertainment law committee. Attend their meetings, and all of the sudden you might find yourself surrounded by the very lawyers you have been hoping to meet.

3. Plan a panel: Student organizations are always planning programs — and always looking for help. If you are interested in a particular practice area — let’s say entertainment law again; offer to help plan a panel at your school through a student group. If there is no student group, talk to Career Services, and offer to plan it with them. As long as you are planning it, you may as well invite speakers you have been wanting to meet. You will get to talk to them, learn about their practice area, ask questions, and hopefully stay in touch with them.

4. Become Active on LinkedIn: I’ve met a lot of students who are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — but not LinkedIn. It’s a widely used professional network. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to join it even though you are a student. You can join the LinkedIn groups for your law school and undergraduate, which is a good way to network with alumni. Sometimes alums will also post job listings on LinkedIn. You can post your resume to your LinkedIn profile as well, if you want to.

5. Be a Leader of a student organization: Law students are extremely busy — and yet, many of them are involved on campus. Go for a leadership position in a student organization, if you can. It’s a great way to help your fellow students, and learn more about something of interest to you. It gives you leadership skills, interaction with faculty and administrators, and a new entry for your resume — plus, it might be a lot of fun.

I hope these tips help you to get your network working for you—let me know if you have tried other methods that have worked.

Hillary Mantis is a Legal Career Consultant and Pre-Law Advisor. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers, and a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University. You can write to Hillary at altcareer@aol.com

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