Tips for Leaving a Professional Impression

Lawyers work hard, but they also enjoy socializing and networking.  As a student or recent graduate, the best way to connect with attorneys is by attending events where practicing lawyers will be present.  Although it can be tempting to let your guard down at an event, you should keep professionalism at the forefront of your mind at all times.  With the Student Alumni Exchange right around the corner, here are some tips for being your most professional self while at a networking event:

1)      Before you attend an event, make sure to RSVP if you are asked to do so.  Showing up at an event when your presence is unexpected can look unprofessional.

2)      If possible, research attendees or presenters via LinkedIn or employer bios prior to an event.  This will show that you have done your homework and care about the people with whom you are connecting.

3)      Know your elevator pitch, but do not talk about yourself during the entire conversation.  Remember, the idea is to learn about the attorneys with whom you are connecting.  A professional understands that a conversation is a two-way street.  Make sure to ask thoughtful questions and listen to the answers.

4)      Make sure to dress appropriately for all events.  If the organizer does not specify the dress code, err on the side of business casual.  You can never go wrong with a suit, unless the event specifically calls for casual dress.  Even then, never wear jeans to an event if you are trying to impress the attendees!

5)      If the event includes a sit down meal, be sure to remember your manners!  Wait until everyone at the table is served before eating.  Observe the behavior of those around the table, and mirror it.  If everyone is eating slowly and conversing, follow their lead.

6)      If you attend an event that includes alcohol, it’s all right to have a drink or two, but stop yourself there.  Your goal should be to remain in control at all times during a conversation at a networking event.

7)      Follow up!  If you speak with someone at an event, and he or she encourages you to follow up, do so within 24 hours.