In 2007, I joined McKee Nelson, a young, entrepreneurial firm. In two short years there I learned more than I ever could have imagined. The market was booming and the firm was thriving. The marketing team was small so I had the opportunity to take on a lot of responsibility.

Then the market crashed and everything changed.

The firm had to make some tough but necessary decisions, but it did so in the most compassionate way. We were all in it together. They did the right thing for their people. McKee Nelson wound up merging with Bingham McCutchen and later became part of Morgan Lewis during another merger. I left before the first merger because I was craving stability, and what better place to find stability than the most stable firm in the world, Sullivan & Cromwell?

My experience at McKee was very rewarding because I made lifelong relationships with some of the smartest, kindest and honorable people in the industry, and it helped me to grow and learn what kind of professional I wanted to be.

I learned a few key lessons though this experience (as well as a few other tips) to build your alumni network: 
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A great way to cultivate relationships is by becoming active in bar associations and key groups in your practice area or industry. 

Join a committee or take on a volunteer role. This type of work can help you become more visible in the field and lead to introductions and connections who can become clients or

Talk about client service! What a great idea from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP to create an online portal for their clients to easily earn CLE credits. This is how you provide true, value-added benefits to your clients while showcasing the expertise of your lawyers. Making something like this available to your alumni is also

Every professional should always be thinking about ways to build their book of business and brand, as well as how to develop stronger relationships with clients and referral sources.

Maintaining strong relationships and staying top of mind with clients and referrals are often at the heart of this kind of business development work. There are

The summer is a great time to reconnect with contacts and focus on your business development and branding efforts. Here are some ideas on how you can do it using both in-person networking and online networking techniques:

  • Make it a weekly practice to connect with VIP contacts – mentors, former professors, former colleagues – anyone