Building your own network

Having a network of people that can provide advice, guidance and assistance is invaluable.

One comment

  1. This is a great piece and it’s absolutely true- it matters who you know. Considering how competitive the job market it, networking really is a necessity. By the time a job is posted, employers are overwhelmed with resumes. When you network, you may be able to overturn an opportunity before it is public. It also helps when employers can put a face to an application by the time something opens at their firm.

    My advice is:

    1. Practice – the more you do it, the easier it becomes ( It’s scary, but unemployment is scarier)
    2. Be prepared- if you are going on an informational interview, you should know everything about the person. Showing that you pay attention to what’s going on in your field and your city is so important (read the DR, BBJ, WSJ, etc.)
    3. Marketing- come up with a way that will set yourself apart so you stay in people’s minds
    4. Absolutely pay it forward- if people were kind enough to help you, you should help others
    5. Maintain a good reputation- its not called Smalltimore for nothing

    I did decent in school, but I was always working. The trade off of working to mitigate debt was a lower GPA. I also forwent petitioning to operate a small business. Networking became my strategy to secure employment.

    At first is was very hard. I set a rigorous goal: to meet with at least one attorney a week, whether by attending an event or asking for an informational interview. I more or less starred in my own version of firm crashers and would attend just about any event offered at law firms that practiced the type of law that I was interested in. The more I networked, the more I learned what worked and what didn’t. I began to see familiar faces at other events, and thus began a domino effect of introductions to other people.

    I met many wonderful people who I probably would not have met otherwise. Attorneys are busy. Yet, many still met with me and shared their truly invaluable wisdom. Their advice also gave me a much better sense of the field of transactional law and what I could expect career-wise. Just the opportunity to listen to their experiences, with the added benefit of hindsight, is worth it in and of itself. I remain grateful to all those who were so generous with their time.

    It’s important to remember patience with networking. I would analogize the process to planting seeds… plant them with the initial contact, then nurture by staying in touch (I may have grown up on a farm). Ultimately, you may have an opportunity to harvest something, whether it be employment, advice, friendship, etc.

    Once you are able to improve these skills and land a job, your networking abilities will hopefully transition into building your own client base.