Develop a Network

Develop a Network

Your goal is to use your existing social network to learn which jobs are available and to let others know of your abilities. Your search network should be composed of people who will enter a mutually beneficial relationship with you to exchange information about careers, jobs, and the “hidden” job market—those jobs that are never advertised, including vacancies that are about to occur. It is difficult to tell how many jobs are in this category (they’re hidden, after all) but estimates range from 80 to 90 percent of all jobs. In order to find out about hidden jobs, you must be in the information loop through the people you know and the people you are willing to meet.

Network with Indiana Law Alumni

Many of the most successful practicing attorneys in a range of fields were once in your position as students at Indiana Law—and most are open to meeting with or talking with current students. We can help you find appropriate alumni to contact.

Identify Potential Resource People

Make a list of your current contacts. Include family and extended family members, friends, social contacts, current and previous work contacts, current and former classmates (including those who were in the classes ahead of you in law school —they will soon be working in the jobs about which you want information), recreational contacts, service contacts (doctors, accountants, bankers), acquaintances from professional associations, volunteer organizations, and church and civic groups. This list will grow and change as you start renewing old contacts and following new leads.

Follow these rules for networking:

Ask your contacts for information, not a job!

Don’t back someone into a corner by demanding a job that isn’t theirs to offer. Instead, ask for information about various career opportunities, particular firms or industries, or geographical areas. You can start things off by asking about their career path.

Never make a request that your contact cannot fulfill.

You want your contact to get in the habit of saying “yes” to you, and, in the process, feel good about his or her association with you. For this reason, ask for information, advice, critique of your well-drafted resume, or the names of others in the field to whom you should speak.

State your purpose early.

Your contacts have been burned in the past by people who presumably only wanted information and ended up asking for jobs. Let them know early on that you are interested in their expertise and advice—and don’t slip in job requests when their defenses are down!

Make sure that your contact has all relevant information about you.

To introduce yourself and perhaps to get valuable advice, provide a copy of your resume. When your circumstances change, let your contact know.

Focus on your contact, not on yourself.

You are meeting with your contact to obtain information, and people love to give it. You have chosen this person for a good reason: he or she is in the practice area you enjoy, the firm you want to join, or exhibits the personal, professional or ethical values you want to emulate. Ask questions about your contact’s career and let him or her talk.

Give positive feedback.

The service your contact is providing is valuable; make sure you acknowledge that value, both in person and in writing.

Keep good records.

Make sure that you know to whom you spoke, when the discussions took place, and the substance of the conversation. Then, when you contact people for a second or third time, you will not embarrass yourself or waste their time.

Say thank you.

Take the time to thank each member of your network personally on a regular basis. A handwritten note after a follow-up call can go a long way in maintaining a positive professional relationship.

All of this takes time. Remember, there is no shortcut, no streamlined method for developing and nurturing contacts and developing a job network—nor should there be. Because hiring decisions are often based on trusting relationships, you must allow time for those relationships to develop.