This post provides some updated links (our previous post on the topic was from 2012 and has some broken links):
Finally, some advice on the subject via the Harvard Business Review
Couple of interesting nuggests in this posting on the Lawyerist entitled “The Secrets of Mingling At Legal Events.”
Here is some great career advice for introverts. I remember reading somewhere that while extroverts outnumber introverts in the general population (by a margin of something like 3 to 1), among lawyers, there are actually more introverts than extroverts.
Introverted lawyers/law students may also want to check out a recently published book called “Quiet, Please: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” You can read an interview with its author Susan Cain here.
This short list of practical networking advice from a recent New York Law Journal article is not only useful in and of itself, but serves as a useful reminder of the importance of networking in any job search.
Good advice in today’s Legal Intelligencer (via law.com) on the importance of investing in relationships, expanding your network and developing a personal brand at the beginning of your legal career — even before you graduate.
I am sure our 2Ls and 3Ls are tired of hearing us talk with or email them about the central importance of networking, especially in the current challenging legal job market. We’ve posted on this topic before here, here and here. Tiring as it may be to hear over and over again, it doesn’t make it any less true. We’ve read in various places that 70% of jobs are obtained through contacts.
Simply reacting to posted job announcements is not enough in this market. You need to be sufficiently plugged in so when jobs open up, you hear about them from others before they are posted. Or, you need to have someone in your network who may know the potential employer, or knows someone who knows someone who works there, so they can get your application materials a more careful look.
There is a recent article in the Legal Intelligencer (posted on the law.com website) that may help you if you feel networking is just not one of your strengths (as many lawyers and law students do). Its entitled “Four Tips For Reluctant Networkers” and its definitely worth a read.
For further help in developing your networking skills, visit Networking Section of the CDO website (via the Career Development and Job Search Skills link on the CDO homepage). Also, CDO counselors can help you build and expand your professional network.
A round up of comments from legal recuiters in the DC area recently appeared in the Legal Times. You should read the whole thing, but here are some interesting insights:
Networking is key, but remember its not just your professional network that can help you — your personal contacts can be a fruitful source of leads. Also, don’t limit yourself to online networking tactics. A handwritten letter or phone call may work better with some.
The most marketable associates are the ones with a niche practice (areas that don’t have alot of competition and where it would be difficult to try to re-train an existing under-utilized associate from another practice area). Examples mentioned in the article were: FDA, energy, export control, Section 337/patent litigation before the ITC, patent prosecution, bankruptcy, SEC enforcement, antitrust and health care.
Don’t assume the only jobs out there are the ones that are posted on a jobs site. Your network is critical in identifying opportunities because, in today’s economy, if an employer posts a position, they will be inundated with resumes that they can’t possibly work their way through.
Some excellent thoughts about the importance of networking recently appeared in Law Practice Today, the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s webzine. Three prominent career experts share their thoughts finding and keeping a job in an economic downturn. Read the whole thing here.
Some key quotes:
Shelley Canter [author of Make the Right Career Move: 28 Critical Insights And Strategies to Land Your Dream Job]:
Over the past 20 years, studies have consistently shown that at least 70-80% of jobs come through one’s network. My experience is that in bad economies, this statistic is even higher.
Kathleen Brady [author of Navigating Detours on the Road to Success]:
The internet is a great way to learn about where the opportunities are but simply submitting resumes on line yields a pretty low rate of return. Job seeks should definitely use the internet but they should not hide behind their computer screens. Use the internet to learn about other careers and compile lists of target companies. Visit web pages, read press releases; know what career opportunities exist (even if they are not at your level.)
At the same time, begin to compile lists of people who might be able to help you. Consider family members, former classmates and colleagues as well as people “on the other side” of deals or projects you have met throughout your career. Strategize how they might be helpful. Can they provide information about a job posting you found? Can they introduce you to someone on your target list or help you expand your target list? Perhaps they can offer feedback on your resume or approach tactics. Be prepared to ask people for something specific they can do to be helpful. You have to do your homework first, but the bulk of your time should be spent talking to people.
It is one thing to understand the concept of networking. It is quite another to know HOW to do it. Start with the easy ones, those friends and colleagues you feel comfortable calling. Invite them to lunch and say, “I’m thinking about making a job chance and wanted to bounce some ideas off you.” During these initial meetings you will begin to become more comfortable talking about yourself, and, because these are your friends, they will be more forgiving if you stumble slightly as you craft your message.
The ability to communicate your qualifications to potential employers entails more than just informing them of your technical competence. You must be able to illustrate that you have the requisite personal attributes–things like problem solving abilities, analytical skills, assessment and planning capabilities–to perform the job. The examples you use to talk about your accomplishments should elucidate your thinking and problem solving style. The more concrete and specific you are, the better able your contact will be to think of possibilities for you and suggest additional people you should meet. That’s why it is critical that job seekers engage in the self-assessment process before they launch into the networking process.
A common mistake people make when job prospecting is to use the meeting as a therapy session. You do not want to inspire guilt, pity or dread. Your goal should be to make your contacts feel good about their ability to help you. It is important that you present yourself as positive, confident and self-assured, not negative, needy and desperate. Never make your contacts feel sorry for you or responsible for your situation. Do not scoff at their suggestions by saying “I’ve tried that and it does not work,” otherwise your contacts will doubt their ability to help and begin to avoid you. If you need to express anger, bitterness, anxiety, etc., talk to a career counselor or seek out a member of the clergy or a sympathetic friend before meeting with your contacts.
A recent article in the Marketing the Law Firm Newsletter offers some good pointers on how to connect with clients. The adivce is equally applicable to the job search context. The author was here at Berkeley Law last year presiding over our Business Etiquette Dinner and discussion.
For more on networking, see the “Career Development and Job Search Skills” section of the CDO website. We also have some good recent print resources on the Art of Networking available in the CDO Library.