Networking is the process of locating and contacting individuals who might have information relevant to your career planning and job search. For many people the very concept of networking conjures up images of pushy, aggressive tactics that are likely to be quite alien. Even when networking is properly viewed as a means of information gathering, the process may still induce a great deal of anxiety.
Networking is a crucial career planning skill for several reasons. First, it is one of the best ways to find out what lawyers actually do in different types of employment and, should you wish, what is necessary to enable you to do it. Second, a strong network is a resource that you can depend on for professional support, information, and guidance throughout your career, including the majority of time when you are not job hunting. Finally, it is very often true that the best career opportunities are not advertised or listed, and will only be discovered through networking.
You can network through a process called informational interviewing. Informational interviewing is meeting with people to learn more about practice settings and areas with the objective of learning more and further developing your career path. It is NOT done for the purpose of getting a job with the contact or his or her organization, indeed, that is to be avoided during informational interviewing.
You can also network for the purpose of developing a job lead. Networking for job leads involves meeting an expanding number of people who may have knowledge about leads or who are or may know effective contacts at organizations in which you are interested.
These two purposes call for different approaches during the networking process with respect to the people you select as contacts and the things you discuss with them.
Networking is not nearly as difficult as many people imagine. It involves seeking out people who may be willing to help you and asking them for that help. The Career Planning staff will be happy to help you generate a networking plan.