The word “networking” may have certain negative connotations, but at its basic level, it is nothing more than establishing relationships with people and groups of people. The advent of social media has brought into sharp focus many aspects, both good and bad, of networking. Social media also are changing the way lawyers connect and interact with each other and with clients.

Professional networking is an important part of virtually every aspect of legal practice, from getting your first job to expanding your client base when you are a practicing lawyer. There are many rewards that flow from the relationships you establish in your network. One of these rewards probably will be getting a job you want—maybe not your first job out of law school, but at some point in your career. In fact, many experts believe that the majority of jobs are located through networking.

Nevertheless, the key word is “professional.” Keep in mind that employers, clients, and professional adversaries all will have access to your social media information. Please see NALP's E-Guides to E-Professionalism for Law Students for valuable information about maintaining a professional online presence.

Additionally, while social media allow you to reach out to more people and groups, it is important to maintain personal, face-to-face contact with people in your networking group. Join professional organizations that interest you and take some time to get involved and get to know others in the group. Take a little time to have lunch or meet with lawyers and other students as you progress through your legal and academic career.

For tips on connecting directly with lawyers, watch our "Building Professional Relationships" program.