Five Takeaways from Speed Networking 101

1.  Be Yourself – Although it sounds cliché, many of the employers at this event remarked on how they enjoy seeing students resemble themselves; not someone else’s idea of who they should be. Being relaxed at social or networking events will help you carry on some great conversations and stories. Storytelling is as old as the Stone Age and as current as Tom Clancy. People are always telling each other stories, whether at the office copier, over late-Friday-afternoon drinks, or around the dinner table. Storytelling can be a powerful tool during a self-marketing opportunity such as campus events, or when interviewing with prospective employers. Although storytelling during job interviews has become something of a lost art from what some employers mentioned, it is still something they seek. Instead of the usual 20 questions or a lengthy recitation of your school and work history, try telling a story about one of your accomplishments or how you decided on a law career. While many job seekers already have attractive resumes, know how to dress for success, and have well-rehearsed answers to tricky interview questions; few are skilled at marketing themselves using accomplishment-storytelling techniques. Be sure to practice these important skills at each networking event you attend!

2.  Be confident – Speak confidently when relating your school and career successes. You may not know everything about a particular area of practice, so don’t be afraid to admit it. On the same token, be confident in the way you talk about the things in which you are well-verse, such as your favorite practice area or extracurricular interests. Still unsure of what to talk about at social events? Don’t be afraid to simply ask honest questions to the person with whom you are speaking. They are in front of you as a resource, so take advantage by ask probing questions – questions that can help guide your career path. You never know where you’ll be years from now in your career, so make sure you exhibit your “can do” attitude all throughout your law career path as it will carry you the distance.

3.  Sell Yourself – Several employers mentioned how it is very beneficial at networking functions to come prepared with a 30-second elevator speech. Don’t have an elevator speech? Be sure to do your research and create one that describes you and your goals, then rehearse it over and over – out loud! Some great examples of elevator speeches are:

a. ”Hello, I’m Tom Smith. I’m pursuing a joint JD/ M.B.A. degree here at Wake Forest.  I want to pursue a career in corporate mergers and acquisitions, because I feel that my business background gives me an additional understanding of the needs of corporate clients. I’m originally from the Washington, D.C. area and hope to return there after graduation.”

b. ”Hi, my name is Mary Jones. I am currently a second year student attending Wake Forest Law School, focusing on public interest work. This past summer I completed an internship with Human Rights Watch where I researched issues of human trafficking. After that experience, I’m committed to a career with a nonprofit or advocacy group focused on issues affecting women’s rights.”

4.  Be Memorable – As employers pointed out, they are looking for memorable experiences when cruising the networking scene or during interviews. They remarked that especially during interviews, they are looking for candidates that will stand out from a crowd. They don’t like hearing the same old “I can help your firm by doing this or by doing that.” They want to see someone who can be a part of their team and get along with the office atmosphere. One particular employer stated that he interviewed 54 candidates and had to quickly narrow the choices down to only 3. The candidates only had 15 minutes to make a lasting impression, which seems like a hard task to complete. However, he was excited to state that the 3 candidates he narrowed it down to were all outgoing, memorable, and reflected a true desire to be on his team.

5.  Be Enthusiastic – To piggyback on point #4, being enthusiastic goes along with being memorable. Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are also contagious. One attorney mentioned that he likes to hear all about the student, but then enjoys how the conversation pivots to excited remarks and stories about what the student wants to do with their law career and where they would like to go. This excitement makes a lasting impression on this particular attorney. Try to answer questions in an upbeat way, conveying that you are enthusiastic and pleasant to be around. You don’t have to lay it on thick and go overboard, but your attitude can go a long way in social events and especially during interviews. In an interview, enthusiastic candidates indicate their enjoyment of their work and their interest in the employer by their behavior. Students looking for their first job are enthusiastic about their academic work, their college, their professors and fellow students.