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Polishing Up Your Legal Networking Skills

published February 26, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
Published By
( 5 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
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Your Networking Resources

In recent years, the concept of networking has become increasingly popular as it relates to job finding, career counseling, and support systems. To understand how networking operates, visualize a series of linkages or connections that leads to other connections. That's what networking is all about: developing connections or contacts that might be able to open some doors for you in your job search.

You are probably familiar with the system referred to as the "old boys' network," in which job information is shared over lunch, on the golf course, or at a party. It's an informal way of discussing what's going on from an insider's advantage point before such information is available to the general public. It's also a system of strategies whereby someone who knows a person within an organization can make a phone call or set up an introduction for you.

When you think of it, each person is the core of a network of friends or associates. In your job search, you must learn how to expand your network. You can do this in a number of ways. Just remember that the focus of your networking should be on the quality of your contacts.

How Networking Works

1. Attend professional association meetings. Find out what is going on in the field. In addition to job information, what are the working conditions like in a company? What are the promotion practices? What are current salary ranges?

It takes energy and effort to attend such meetings or job fairs, lectures, or special programs, but the investment of your time is well worth it. You must learn how to put yourself forward, strike up a conversation, or simply listen until you have something to contribute. As you develop a rapport and trust with others, information that is not otherwise discussed becomes easier to talk about and share.

2. be prepared to deliver a thirty-second commercial on you at all times. You might bump into someone at a social function, in an elevator, or waiting in line any place. It's not appropriate, nor do you have the time, to give a lengthy explanation of your job search, but you can briefly mention what you are doing and what you're looking for.

3. Always carry a business card, even if you do not have a job. It is the most efficient and most professional way to give a contact your name and phone number.

4. Networking can take the shape of a casual lunch in which you meet a new person, a friend of a mutual friend. It can take place at a formal party or picnic. All of these occasions provide opportunities for you to develop and expand your connections. If you are not convinced, just take time at a social gathering to watch how people congregate to talk about work-related issues and problems. Work is frequently the common denominator in a discussion, and it is frequently what brings people together, even socially. Observe how others use networking as an effective strategy, and then learn how to use it yourself.

Following Up on Networking Connections

It's important to remember, however, that networking is not manipulation or using other people. Everyone must gain something from it; otherwise, it does not work. Below are some suggestions on how to follow through on a networking connection.
  1. Once you have made a contact, either in person or on the telephone, ask when would be a convenient time for you to meet the person or to talk. If you've met the person at a social gathering, give the person your business card, if appropriate, at that time or ask if you might call the person within the next few days to continue the conversation. And then be sure to do so soon after the initial meeting; otherwise, you will have to spend time refreshing that person's memory about you.
  2. No matter how you make the contact, there are some professional guidelines to follow in developing this relationship. This applies in all cases: if you have been introduced socially, if the contact is a friend, or if the person is someone who has been referred to you by a mutual friend.
  3. Never ask, "Can I have a job?" "Do you have any contacts I can use?" Of course, you hope that information will be offered to you.
  4. Never invent connections or refer to a mutual friend if that person has not authorized you to make the contact.
  5. Once you have set up a time to talk, make certain that you are focused in what you want to find out. Are you looking for information about the daily responsibilities of a specific job? Do you want to know how the organization views women or whether it encourages continuing education? The more specific you can be, the more useful the contact can be. Personal chitchat can be time consuming. Keep in mind that you are using a person's valuable time.

Reciprocating for Networking Favors

Networking is one of the best ways to find a job, but in order for it to work; it must be viewed as mutually beneficial to the persons involved. No one likes to feel used. Therefore, you must acknowledge and, in some way, reciprocate for the advice or additional contacts offered to you. How do you do this?
  1. Always send an acknowledgement letter, thanking those who have given you their time and professional advice. Sample letters are included in this chapter.
  2. When you find a job, always write a note informing everyone who has helped you in any way, even if the job did not result from the specific contact. Your professional courtesy will be remembered.
  3. Share your knowledge, expertise, or current information with any net-working contacts. It could simply be a notice of a meeting, lecture, or program that might interest that person or it could be an article or announcement relevant to that person's own job or professional activities. Gifts or anything of monetary value is inappropriate; however, the gesture you make is important. It demonstrates that you also share professional information.

How to Continue Networking Once You Have a Job

Networking on your job or in the professional world at large can be one of the most rewarding ways to move ahead if you are aware that it is not an entitlement. Make it work for you by nurturing your contacts throughout your career.

You can do this in the following ways:
  1. Become active in professional or civic groups. One of the best ways to achieve distinction is to donate your time on special projects or assume a leadership role in an organization.
  2. Meet with professional colleagues on a regular basis for lunch or dinner to talk about job and career issues and goals. They will also be a good resource for job information.
  3. be generous: Send congratulatory notes to those who have been promoted or have received special recognition or awards. Share information and your knowledge. If you have a reputation as someone who always takes and rarely gives back, your networking efforts will rarely be successful.

Networking will not get you the job, but it will expand your professional circle and it could help you meet the right person.

To help you keep track of your networking contacts, keep a job contact log. A sample log is included here, as well as follow-up thank you letters. Customize them to fit your own situation, and be certain to keep copies of your letters for your files.

Your Record Keeping System

It is important for you to keep records of every phase of your job campaign; this is not only important in terms of expenses incurred, but doing so will enable you to see what you have accomplished as well as what you need to do. Without a written record, it is sometimes difficult to remember whether or not you sent a follow-up letter. If you list dates, you will also see when a first interview occurred, so that you can time a follow-up phone call if you have not heard anything.

You can take a view of sample charts to help you with your record keeping as part of your job search plan. These include Job listings, Job Interview Logs, Job Contact Logs, and Contact List: Address & Phone Numbers, Telephone and Correspondence Log, Expense Records.

You may also find that keeping a computer record of your job search plan will be most efficient for you.

A Paralegal Job Search Checklist will help you to keep track of your progress. The following chart may serve that purpose Job Search Checklist
  • Objectives
  • Type of job (specialty preferred, if any)
  1. Location
  2. Company size
  • Other preferences in job
  1. Resources
  2. References used
  3. Contacts (personal or professional)
  • Record Keeping
  1. Job contact logs
  2. Letters sent (with dates)
  3. Expense sheets

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

published February 26, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 5 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.