The law school reunion. Depending on the type of person you are, you either look forward to it or feel disinterested at the idea of going. Law school reunions can be fun or uncomfortable, a waste of time or invaluably productive. It’s all about your attitude and how well you prepare for what can be a great opportunity for improving your career.
The reality is, law school reunions can be goldmines for making new and important career-advancing connections. Many of those classmates you’ve lost touch with may be the perfect people with whom to network. A few may be in leadership roles looking to fill positions that are essentially your dream job. Or others may be working in your dream job and can offer valuable insights on how to make the right moves to get there. Or still, maybe you’re that ideal connection for someone else, and you can serve as an excellent gateway for another classmate who’s looking to make a job move.
There are plenty of reasons to go to your law school reunion. And here we offer a step-by-step guide for making the most of it.
1. Study the list of attendees.
Check out who will be attending the reunion and separate each one into categories. There will likely be people on the list you know well, those you knew but lost touch with, and those you never really new well. Identify the folks from the latter two categories and head over to the internet for some detective work.
2. Research your old classmates online.
Start researching your former classmates on LinkedIn, Google or other professional social media networks to see what they’re up to now. Keep an organized list of who is doing what so you’re armed with this information when you rub elbows with them at the reunion. And what a great impression it’ll make that you know, for example, that an old classmate is on the partner track at a big law firm or just landed a coveted in-house gig at a Fortune 100 company.
3. Get to know their faces again.
It sounds creepy, but it really isn’t. Print out each of their head shots or store them electronically in an organized way on your phone and memorize names with faces. Not only will this complement the information you’ve already gathered on your former classmates, it will also eliminate those awkward moments when you know you should remember someone … but you just don’t.
4. Mingle, mingle, mingle.
Sure, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with the former classmates you know well. But this is where all your homework pays off: You must walk away from your comfort zone to network with the folks you haven’t seen or talked to since the day you graduated law school. This is where all your research comes in handy! “Jack, I remember you from contracts with Professor Norris. So you’re at Sidley now?” From there, it’s easy to let the conversation flow to various common interests and professional similarities.
5. Connect on professional social media sites after the reunion.
Stay connected through networking sites like LinkedIn. Send out invitations to your new connections. This proactive gesture shows them you’re interested in continuing this professional networking relationship beyond the once-a-decade reunion.
6. Even better: Make plans with those former classmates you had a strong connection with.
Send your new connections—especially those in your area—an invitation for coffee or an after-work cocktail to get to know them even better. This proactive gesture shows that you’re genuinely committed to continuing to build that professional relationship.
Relationship-building takes time. But it’s worth the effort and it’s important to take the opportunity to continue to build your network every chance you get. Do it well, and these folks will be there to support you with powerful referrals or recommendations. When they hear about a great opportunity, don’t be surprised when they send it your way. After all, these are your classmates—the success of one reflects on all, and classmates want to help.