Hannah Leslie, trainee solicitor at Springfield Properties Plc, discusses the importance of networking when you’re a trainee.

When I finished the Diploma in Legal Practice I was naively satisfied that I had amassed a significant amount of legal connections through my university colleagues.

Beginning my traineeship in-house with Springfield Properties Plc I joined a legal department that consisted of one person (I boosted our numbers to two). I quickly learned that the catalogue of contacts I thought I had was a drop in the ocean when it came to the day-to-day work of an in-house trainee solicitor.

My supervising solicitor and only legal colleague seemed to know everyone in the Scottish legal profession and these connections, I soon realised, were invaluable. Being based in Falkirk, however, meant it wasn’t easy for me to arrange to grab a quick of coffee - I needed to make an active effort to meet new people within the legal profession.

So what have I learned about networking now I’m approaching the end of my first year of my traineeship?

1. Say yes to that lunch

If during the course of a transaction the person on the other side invites you out for lunch or coffee – say yes! And if they don’t, invite them!

2. Join a committee

During my first year I was lucky enough to spend six months as a non-executive committee member of the Scottish Young Lawyers' Association (SYLA). This was hugely beneficial for me for making connections within the legal profession, not only through the colleagues I was on the committee with, but also the people I met whilst carrying out SYLA work.

3. Make use of LinkedIn

I have found LinkedIn a wonderful tool in my quest to expand my connections and organise those all-important lunches!

4. Take advantage of your colleagues' connections

Whilst it is important to make your own connections, if you have a more experienced colleague who has a wealth of connections, then take advantage of that! If they know someone you’re interested in getting to know or learning more about – ask your colleague to set up a meeting.

5. Don't forget the person you sit next to

Don’t forget there is a goldmine of connections in your office for you to make. If you’re in-house, the inter-professional relationships you can make will be invaluable for your career. If you’re at a firm, you should aim to network as much as possible during each seat – you never know when that colleague from property will come in handy.