Informational Interviewing and Networking
This domain of the job search is essential, as roughly 70% of jobs will be found through this method. Keep in mind that only about 5% of jobs are found through the Internet. Furthermore, the social skills and network of contacts that you develop through Informational Interviewing will support your career once you are hired. These contacts will turn into referral sources for your office and valued advisors for your career. A book that really sets the stage for building a network of connections is Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi.
Informational Interviewing involves engaging a relative stranger, building rapport, and learning from their experience. Perhaps they have something to offer you. Remember, you are not meeting other lawyers/professionals to ask for a job. Rather, you are meeting with this person on an equal, one-on-one level. This is an opportunity to share interests, and to find out whether you can relate to them in a constructive way.
Paul Anderson, a job consultant/expert, spoke at the WSBA on "The Psychology of Interviewing." He explains how to make these interviews meaningful. Note the importance of creating a value proposition with each contact. This takes the emphasis off of "does this person care about me" and focuses upon "how can we be useful to each other." A summary of points covered in Paul's presentation is included in The Psychology of Interviewing.
Build a database! We easily lose sight of the effort we have already made to find work. The trick to building a network of supporters, according to legal staffing consultant Jeff Minzel, is to train them to find you a job. This means following up with at least five unintrusive contacts. This can include e-mails, phone calls, thank-you notes, forwarding articles of interest, etc. By maintaining a database, you will know when you last contacted that person and how to keep yourself on their radar.
Informational Interviewing is a skill set that was not taught in law school. Calling up a stranger, explaining how you heard about them, and hoping they'll have coffee with you is not an easy thing to do for everyone. There are ways to reduce the intimidation factor. Join the section for your practice area and attend these meetings and CLEs. Figure out who you might benefit from knowing. Talk to CLE presenters and invite them to coffee. These are some of the most outgoing members of the bar, usually willing to share what they know.
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