How do you network, exactly?

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Peg
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How do you network, exactly?

Postby Peg » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:42 pm

What it says on the tin: I am really not a natural at networking. I know the things you're supposed to do: go to the networking events, talk to professors, become pally with law school alumni and UG alumni (if they went on to work at law firms), make friends with your classmates, etc. The part that's difficult for me - and maybe for others as well - is exactly how you go about the business of talking to these people without sounding like a hard-eyed, obvious user. How do you make it seem natural and friendly, how do you make them want to help you, how do you keep in communication with them after the initial introductions without basically saying, "Hi, I just want to update you about what I'm doing even though I'm sure you couldn't care less, I just want to make sure you don't forget me because I need you for next summer."

On what basis, for example, would I contact a Biglaw alumnus from my law school without sounding like a user? "Hi, I go to X Law School, we seem to have that in common. I'm really interested in the work you do and I'll drop a few details that I gleaned from your profile on the firm's website, and by the way I love your firm, can we keep in touch?" <-- Okay that's a rough example, but it's probably as clumsy in the essentials as a more "polished" letter would be.

Any advice or tips would be appreciated. I know some people are naturals at networking and I've envied some of my friends in this regard. They actually seem to love it and they make it look fun. But it just makes me feel uncomfortable, insincere, and like a user.

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OutCold
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby OutCold » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:51 pm

"Hi, I go to X Law School, we seem to have that in common. I'm really interested in the work you do and I'll drop a few details that I gleaned from your profile on the firm's website, and by the way I love your firm, can we keep in touch?" <-- Okay that's a rough example, but it's probably as clumsy in the essentials as a more "polished" letter would be.


I did just that and actually had quite a bit of success with it. Some will respond; some won't. There's no harm in trying though. Just use specifics when mentioning why you're interested in their work. "I'm really interested in real estate transactions and have some background in the industry. Your work with REITs is something I would really like to hear more about." Things like that. There are certainly more elegant ways to network, but there really won't be many other ways to get in touch with the upper echelon partners in biglaw. Ask to meet or set up a phone conversation, don't just "keep in touch".

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Verity
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby Verity » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:01 pm

Most alumni, I think, know the game and respect it. They expect that current law students might contact them, because they probably did the same. Plus, they know that law students are being encouraged to do so, just like they were. Now, of course, just emailing a random person isn't as strong as actually tapping real contacts that you know; but if you're polite and you show some interest in them (and not just what they can deliver), it won't hurt. May even help. May even help big-time.

OR:

Find a successful alum of your school, stalk him/her, bump into this person (literally) and say, "Oh, sorry.....wait, you look familiar. Yeah, I know you from somewhere. Didn't you go to XXX law school? I think I saw you at some event, I can't remember which. Oh...yep...right, right, that dinner for....that's it! How are you!"

And go from there.

akahn2
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby akahn2 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:25 pm

tag. thank you.

ColomboHeat
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby ColomboHeat » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:47 pm

I hate to thread-jack... but to attend law school, I'll be leaving a company I've worked at for 5+ years.

I want to reach out to our current in-house legal guys and let them know:

A) that I'm on my way to law school
B) that I'd appreciate any guidance they may be willing to offer

and most importantly

C) that I have enjoyed working for this outfit and can definitely see myself returning to work for them in a legal capacity

The problem is our legal team is in a different building across town, and I probably won't ever get a chance to "meet" them before my last day this summer. Would you guys also suggest I send an email and see how it goes? Or is there a better way for me to go about this?

NotMyRealName09
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:17 pm

Colombo - phone call. Just like texts are the modern way to avoid actual human contact, emails are a cop out. Yes, everyone emails and yes, sometimes its the only way to actually make contact. But there is nothing like actually speaking to someone. Call, and if no answer, give a brief intro, who you are, why you're calling, what you want, and finish by saying you're going to email as well.

Emails can be ignored. Phone calls are harder to ignore.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:17 pm

Let me add this - I'm not good at networking. I hate it. I've also learned that other people hate it too. "Networking" is fake friendship. It's just much better to actually have friends. I know this isn't helpful, but it's reality.

One person's "networking" is most other people's brown-nosing. Don't do that. Just goto networking events, acknowledge how forced and fake the whole charade is, and bond over that. Oh, and drinks. Bond over drinks.

Try this - "Oh, what's that you're drinking? Oh yeah? I've never tried that, is it good? Huh, well I'm gonna try one, let me get you one too." Boom, now they've had two drinks and they like you because you brought them a drink and like what they like. They don't call it social lubricant for nothing.

No one's going to like you because you cold-called them seeking some career guidance, noting you found their name in the alumni directory. More likely they will find you annoying. They will like you because you have something genuine in common with them. You can't fake that. I suppose the best you can do is stay with it, keep meeting different people until you build a genuine connection.

Some people are born "networkers," but I don't think it's because they know something you don't - they are just naturally charismatic. It's like asking why the popular kids are popular in high school - if you have to ask you'll never know, so don't stress it. If that's not you, find the other nerds and network with them. Nerd girls actually put out more anyways, because no one sees it coming, and their options are more limited.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:43 pm

Peg wrote:The part that's difficult for me - and maybe for others as well - is exactly how you go about the business of talking to these people without sounding like a hard-eyed, obvious user.

. . .

Any advice or tips would be appreciated. I know some people are naturals at networking and I've envied some of my friends in this regard. They actually seem to love it and they make it look fun. But it just makes me feel uncomfortable, insincere, and like a user.


Easy - don't be a user. And the way you phrase things, that is exactly what you think you have to accomplish. But I beg to differ - I say networking is building friendships. And no one likes one-sided friendships.

Here is something to consider - I didn't even read your original post before I wrote my preceding post (yeah, bad form, but whatever, it's the internet).

But didn't we both say almost the exact same thing? You say your friends seem good at it - and you know why, you actually said it. It's because they like it. If you don't like it, it's obviously forced, transparent and off-putting, and no one will be comfortable around you because you're not comfortable yourself. So, gravitate to the people at the networking event who hate networking. You might actually have a lot in common.

Or try this - approach the least comfortable looking person in the room and lead the conversation. Consider it practice - like banging a fatty before moving to the hottie - you have to gain experience or else you'll be so nervous you won't perform. It's easier to be confident because you realize that at least you're more confident than this person. And that person might be so grateful you took the lead that you might actually build a real connection. You don't have to just network with the faculty or alums at the event - network with the students, they will be your peers eventually anyways.

GOOD LUCK.
Last edited by NotMyRealName09 on Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Grizz
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby Grizz » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:47 pm

Be alpha. Be a dude that other people want to hang out with. Be cool. I'm not joking.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:52 pm

rad law wrote:Be alpha. Be a dude that other people want to hang out with. Be cool. I'm not joking.


Yeah, that, I was never good at brevity.

Peg
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby Peg » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:45 pm

NotMyRealName09 wrote:Just like texts are the modern way to avoid actual human contact, emails are a cop out. Yes, everyone emails and yes, sometimes its the only way to actually make contact. But there is nothing like actually speaking to someone.

Emails can be ignored. Phone calls are harder to ignore.


I never thought of it this way! INSIGHT.

Edit: Just saw your other posts. Very perceptive points, NotMyRealName. I guess this is where I am outted as a nerd who hates networking. It does make more sense to build a genuine connection with someone, I guess, but the risk with that is that you may not have many opportunities to meet with them and maintain that connection.

This might just be me - although I'm glad to see other people need help with this! - but once I establish a friendship with someone, I feel guilty for "talking shop" with them, as it were. This is because a genuine friendship should be a give-and-take kind of equation, and I may not have anything to offer this person apart from my company.

I think the solution should be to spend some time talking about the contact's work or firm at an early stage, so that my "Can you hire me?" phone calls don't come out of the blue?
Last edited by Peg on Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Cupidity
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby Cupidity » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:46 pm

"What are you drinking?"

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Gamecubesupreme
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Re: How do you network, exactly?

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:32 am

For me personally, networking is easy if I am genuinely interested in the person I am talking to.

If not, everything I say seems forced or fake.




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