Different Ways to Network Over the Summer

I am not the biggest fan of networking. It took me a long time to realize that no one really is, though. I used to think that you were born either possessing or not possessing the traits required to network effectively, but I have come to learn over time that while some people may naturally feel more comfortable working a large room (hello, extroverts!), other methods of networking exist that are more well-suited to the introverts and ambiverts of the world (hello, me!). Here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way – both through trial and error on my part and also from advice from others. I thought it would be nice to throw together a few things I’ve learned as of late, and how they can be used during the summer months when school is no longer in session.

First of all, networking doesn’t solely take place at traditional “networking” events. You can network at your job, you can network with alumni one-on-one, and you can network with random contacts from friends or family. Networking does not exclusively involve entering large ballrooms with hundreds of people with name tags on. For me personally, meeting one-on-one with someone and just learning more of what they presently do, what their journey was like getting there, and any other tips and tricks. I believe that the time you take to meet with someone new, even if it doesn’t necessarily “lead anywhere” (i.e. to a job prospect), gives you a little bit more insight into what you might want to do – no experience is ever wasted.

Networking can involve something as simple as asking a co-worker more about what they do on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t have to be premeditated or glossy or with an end goal in mind – it’s just about being curious and not being shy about it. I’m not expert here, but I do know that I’ve had great experiences already in just asking people questions about what they do and how they got there. If people like what they do, they generally enjoy talking about it with others. It really breaks the fourth wall to get a sense of how a lawyer spends their day – especially in the first year where every class is prescribed and not very indicative of the actual work of a lawyer.

LinkedIn can also be a great resource in terms of learning more about who holds a position in settings that you find fall within your interest area(s). Since I’m likely going down a non-traditional route for my legal career, this has been a great resource, as well as the BU Alumni Directory. Now that I’m in New York for the summer, I’m going to cold-email individuals who work in the areas that interest me to try to meet for a quick cup of coffee. It’s not even about trying to solidify a job, but about building a real connections (because you never know who that connection can connect you with) and paving the way for your ultimate path.

My final tip: put yourself out there (even just over email – remember, the worst that can happen is that you get no reply), be yourself, and trust that each new conversation will teach you something that matters, no matter how small.

 

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