Connecting With People Nurtures Networking Opportunities That Leads to An Opening of Doors

By: Scott McEachern, legal practitioner coach

Working on Computer As a coach and highly visible person within the legal community, inquiries are often received from newly licensed paralegals seeking advice on how to find employment within the profession or how to build relationships as a newcomer within a profession with perceived cliques of established colleagues.  Disappointing to newly licensed paralegals making these inquiries, the best answer would requiring travelling back in time; however, even if starting later than preferred, the point emphasized to newly licensed paralegals is to get started as promptly as possible.

Connecting with colleagues, especially those colleagues who are well established within the profession and are among the who-is-who begins simply by connecting and engaging.  Although there are many established paralegals who keep a low profile and may be avoidant of social media, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, there are hundreds of established paralegals who are readily visible and actively involved online.

Creating Positive Notoriety

There are many social media groups accessible to paralegal students and newly licensed paralegals.  Links to just a few are provided below.  In addition to joining some of these groups, paralegal students and newly licensed paralegals should actively participate in the various discussions that take place as well as engaging various postings by established professionals viewed as experts.  Again, making yourself visible is the goal and the only way to make yourself visible is to actually make yourself visible.  Accordingly, make connections by participating and engaging.

Suggested Facebook Groups:

As an example of a smart practice, paralegal students and newly licensed paralegals would do well to read, Like, and then comment - even if simply to say, "Very interesting." or "Thank you for sharing this.", upon the daily Case of the Day postings of Jonathan Payne from ParaAssist.  Doing so will provide an immeasurable case law education and via such active engagement by paralegal students and newly licensed paralegals will thereby become visible to the established colleagues that are daily followers of Jonathan Payne (or whomever).  In time, the established colleagues will get familiar with your name as well as recognizing and appreciating that you are a go-getter who is networking early and that you are person who strives to go beyond the minimum.

Better yet, enroll in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses that experienced paralegals are participating in and then participate and make yourself visibile and known.  As below, do so with humility and even let the other attendees know that you are currently still a student.  Later, after graduation when you are looking for employment opportunities, be sure to list the extra-curricular CPD courses on your resume so to show off that you went above and beyond the school curriculum while doing your studies.  Additionally, if you participated well, the experienced paralegals will recall your name and recognize you as the person that goes above and beyond.

Engaging With Humility

With the above said, be cautious of remaining humble and sincere.  As a student or newly licensed paralegal there are likely conversations about issues that are beyond your knowledge.  Feel welcome, and encouraged, to join in such conversations as a learning opportunity; however, do avoid blowing smoke by expressing uninformed opinions.  Of course, this is without saying or suggesting that you should refrain from actively participating.  The suggestion is merely to be careful about expressing uninformed opinions that will demonstrate a lack of knowledge or even naivete; and instead, participate as sponge seeking to learn.  You will earn respect from the established colleagues by showing a humble hunger for knowledge.  You will lose respect by trying to show-off the merely foundational knowledge of legal principles that comes from a thirty-two hour college course.

Simply stated, your goal is positive notoriety.  To have your name visibly appear and to build awareness for who you are.  The paralegal profession is hardly for shy personalities.

Wishing you great blessings with just enough challenges within your journey towards your dreams for success!

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