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Networking can often feel daunting, both prior to securing a training contract and as a trainee – here are some of my tips for effective networking based on my own experiences in both situations.


1. Be prepared

This is absolutely essential and should not be bypassed – It is easy to access information online about the firm and their people either by using the firm website or various social media platforms. Research the graduate recruitment team – you will no doubt engage with the graduate recruitment officer(s) at recruitment events, so have some well thought out questions ready to ask them. You can use this as an opportunity to show off your firm-knowledge and commercial awareness. You want to stand out and showing a genuine interest in the firm and its people will help you do that.


2. Be confident

Ensure that you arrive on time and walk into the room with confidence. It is important to be yourself. If you find yourself alone in the room and everyone else is in full flow, don’t panic! Take a look around and find a pair or individual and join their conversation.  If you are nervous, bring a colleague or friend with you and let others gravitate to you. But don’t spend all night with them or you could miss out on valuable connections.


3. Relax

Remember it’s ok to be nervous, you are new to this and so are a lot of the other attendees. Take a deep breath and relax, I can guarantee someone from the firm will come over and start chatting. Conversations don’t have to be all work related!  Think hobbies, interests, sports, movies. Listen to what they are saying and respond fittingly.


 4. Talk to the trainees

It is beneficial to talk to the other trainees or NVQ’s as they are closest to you in your career and it likely wasn’t too long ago that they were in your shoes.


5. Follow up

If you have a good conversation with someone and think that you might want to ask them further questions in the future, then ask them whether they have a business card and would like to connect on LinkedIn.


During my first 6 months at Stephens Scown I have had the opportunity, alongside my fellow trainees and young professionals, to take part in both internal and external networking events.


It’s good to talk – one of the programs I have signed up to at work is Random Coffees, which randomly pairs you with a colleague and you are then invited to set up 30-minute coffee date – which is great for getting to know your colleagues across the office!


It’s not all about formalities – Stephens Scown’s inter-firm ping pong tournament is a brilliant example of connecting with colleagues in a fun and relaxed environment. It’s not just Stephens Scown! I recently attended an event organised by Brewin Dolphin where we played conkers against other teams of young professionals from different firms across Exeter.


Bringing your own ideas – Often law firms have groups that you can join to come up with your ideas for creating networking events like the Stephens Scown professional marketing group and the ladies marketing group. They’ve had lots of events from cake decorating, scavenger hunts and James Bond themed casinos.