The art of networking — part one

Sandra J. Bishop, president of Executive Solutions, is an executive coach and career strategist. She will periodically answer questions that can help lawyers get that next position.

How many jobs are attained through networking sources versus internet/media advertisements?

Before the economy went into a slump last fall, for a number of years the prevailing wisdom suggested that 80 percent of the jobs obtained were through people that you knew.  Currently, that percentage has gone up to 90 percent.

Remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Here are some networking tips:

— Sit down and write a list of all potential networking contacts, from your place of business, club, church, gym, neighbors, child’s PTA, etc.  You will be happily surprised by how easy it is to get your list up to 100.

— I encourage you to network in person.

— Make sure that your crisp resume (which should be no more than two pages) is sent via e-mail to the networking person before you meet with him or her.

— Many people think that the point of networking is to ask the person in question to give you a job or direct you to a job.  I submit that is not always the case.  I think that a more effective way is to make it clear  that you are coming to them to review your resume and seek guidance.  Here, once again, humility and candor are the order of the day.

— I suggest you purchase business cards with your name, area of expertise, and all contact information.  Also, a box of monogrammed stationery to be used as thank-you notes.

— When you request time, suggest you will take no more than 30 minutes of their time.  Also make it clear that you will not be coming back to them with your hat in your hand.  Consider this networking meeting as a one-time shot.

— Show up looking professional, energetic, and willing/able to listen to the guidance you receive.  Let’s not forget they are doing you a favor.

— When you conclude the meeting, it is okay to say, “Moving forward, if you meet or know of someone who may benefit from my services, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”

— As soon as you get home, take a few moments to write a handwritten thank-you note (yes, I said handwritten) to the person you just met, enclosing a business card.

It’s all about full-contact networking!

— Never fail to get into the office of anyone that  is mentioned to you.

— Never depart with less than three new names.

— Never leave follow-up solely in the hands of the person you just saw.  Always keep the ball in your court!

— And remember, never try to reschedule a repeat performance with this networking contact.  Unless one of his or her leads pans out and you would benefit from this person’s continued guidance.

— When the dust settles and you have your great job as a result of this person’s referral, let’s just say more than a thank-you note is required.


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