Remember back to your 2Q meeting with us (fall starters consider this a preview)? We provided you with a nine-quarter plan to help map out your job search. A constant part of executing that plan is to add new people to your list of contacts each quarter (usually four to six, with a break during PC). We’re often asked about how you’re supposed to do this, and I wanted to take a moment and address that here. You should consider this a very broad overview, as the networking program Professor Wren and I presented last fall is really where the deep dive takes place.
First it is worth mentioning that you already know many of the people who are likely to help you, either directly (e.g. your dad) or through a once-removed relationship (e.g. a friend of your dad’s). And before you can say, “But I don’t know any lawyers!” I want to say: 1) Hi, I’m Daniel. I’m a lawyer. Congratulations, you’ve met a lawyer!; 2) you don’t have to know any lawyers today in order to grow your network of lawyers tomorrow, and 3) it is extremely unlikely that nobody within your current circle knows a lawyer. You don’t know anyone who has ever sold a business? Got a divorce? Put together an estate plan? Sued their landlord?
Your current circle of contacts is very likely more than you need to get started building your professional network. All you have to do is ask! What does that look like? How about:
Dear Uncle Joe,
It was great to see you at the family reunion this summer! As you know I am pursuing my law degree at Baylor Law School, and hoping to work in Dallas as a trial lawyer when I graduate. Would you happen to know any attorneys that I could talk to? I’m working on meeting people and building relationship within the legal field, so if there is anyone you would be willing to introduce me to I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you soon!
It can be as simple as that. You might strike out on many of these, but that’s just part of the deal. It is a numbers game much like sales, and you will have to go through some nos before you get to yeses. But do you know what else that email does? Even if he can’t think of anyone today, it plants the seed in Uncle Joe’s mind. So now if he meets a lawyer at the golf course, a bar, or wherever tomorrow, knowing you are in law school looking to meet people will probably be one of the first things out of his mouth. It actually could act as a great ice breaker for him to use in the conversation!
One other quick note and tip, and it’s one that we mention often yet so few of you take advantage. We bring a significant number of attorneys to campus each and ever year, either to interview at OCI, to present a professional program, judge mock trial or moot court, etc. There is simply no reason not to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce yourself and add those guest to your network while they are here in Waco. We had a guest from the National Labor Relations Board here last week for a PD program. I watched curiously as all but three students who attended the program left the room without meeting the speaker. What a wasted opportunity! And it doesn’t matter whether that’s an area of the law you’re interested in or not. Right now you want to get to know as many people in the legal profession as possible. So don’t discriminate because they aren’t doing exactly what you want to be doing.
The networking piece of the job search process is both incredibly challenging and surprising simple all at the same time. Discipline to put in the work is the challenge, but if you stick to it, by graduation you will have a network of 20-30 lawyers who you can lean on when it comes time to ask for a job. You can do this!