This is a blog post by Professor Sokol for students, particularly 1Ls. I am posting it on his behalf.
This week I gave a speech at the 1L dinner about how to approach networking. Below are follow up remarks that I provided to the 1L class. My hope is that these remarks will spur further discussion not merely for our 1Ls but for our other students, alumni and friends.
It was wonderful to meet so many of you last night at dinner. You are an impressive class full of rich and diverse experiences and I look forward to getting to know more of you over the next three years. I wanted to follow up on my speech last night with four points for you to consider:
- Building relationships: My talk was not a presentation about how to monetize your friendships, but a presentation on how to conceptualize and build a type of relationship that is a bit different than the ones you have had a lot of practice building.
- Social media: This is a significant topic that you and I could spend lots of time discussing. Please be aware that clients, judges and potential employers (let alone your classmates and everyone else around the world) are looking at your social media. However, the impact of social media isn’t just “OMG someone tweeted something stupid and destroyed their career.” Used correctly, social media allows individuals to have massive reach and efficiently stay in touch with people. Thus, it is important that social media be used properly for you to maximize its effect. There will be many opportunities to learn about how to use social media properly here at the College of Law. In the meantime, let me encourage all of you to sign up for an account on Linkedin. We have a UF Levin College of Law affinity group on Linkedin that I suggest that each of you join to start connecting with Gator alums.
- Extended networks: There is a bit of evidence that your extended network may be more productive than your core network for reasons of diversity and scale. The linked article is just one of many you can find that support this assertion.
- Networking matters for lawyers: For many of us, it is not easy to network. I was very shy when I started law school, so much so that I sat in the front row in my 1L classes so that I would not have to see students turn around to look at me when I was called on in class. I overcame this shyness because I needed to in order to become successful. A recent Harvard Business Review article reminds us that “in today’s world, networking is a necessity. A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.”
I look forward to our continued conversations.