Students Learn the Art of Networking

1/14/2014  - 

In the modern legal job market, personal contacts are more important than ever. But many law students lack the all-important skill of networking. “You need to know how to do it from the start,” explains Gretchen Koehler Mote, L’78. “But often you don’t learn it until later.”

To remedy that problem, Mote, the Director of Loss Prevention for the Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company and a member of the Law School’s Board of Counselors, led a workshop on networking for second-year students. The program, part of the Student Development Workshop series that accompanies select second-year classes, provided background knowledge and practical exercises to help Capital University Law School students master the delicate art of making professional contacts.

Mote focused her workshop on defining “networking” (social interaction conducted for an economic benefit), explaining why it is important and discussing places and organizations well suited for networking. Practical exercises focused on components of networking, including the difficult task of “exiting” once contact has been made. “The challenge,” Mote says, “is leaving a conversation in order to talk to someone else. You don’t want to seem rude or suggest that the person you’re speaking to is not important.”

Also essential is the so-called “Elevator Speech,” Mote says. “A student should be able to explain in a few moments – the length of an elevator ride – about themselves, what they are doing and what they hope to do.”

For Mote, leading the workshop was an opportunity to impress upon students the importance of making contacts. “Almost all of my employment opportunities have come as a result of networking,” she says. “People have helped me make connections.” Students were enthusiastic about the skills they learned and are already putting them to good use at networking events with local practitioners.