Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Networking 101

My brother is wonderfully insightful sometimes.  He said to me the other day, "Why don't you go to networking events? Maybe you can find a job that way."  Yah right.  Here is my concern, isn't everyone at a networking event attempting to network to find a job?  
That may seem skeptical, but unless I was single and on the prowl or in search of a job, I didn't usually go to networking events.   When I was in my former dream job, I never would consider going to a networking event.  I can't imagine gainfully employed people feel the need to go and be charitable to less fortunate souls such as myself.

I can imagine the scene now.  Imagine with me....
Some swanky bar that is dark with elevator music (as to encourage beer goggles and conversations), and there are people milling around aimlessly.  I look around the room and notice an authoritative looking man in a suit. I think to myself that he has "management" written all over him.  I casually stand next to him at the bar and say, "looks like you're in need of a refill.  Should I get the bartender's attention for you?"  He says, "ha ha. I'm fine thanks."  
"So have I seen you before?  At the state bar function they had last month?  On Real Estate Law?" he says.
"No.  Not me.  ha ha."
"Where do you work?" he says.  
"Well, I was at G&D  and now I'm looking for a job outside of the legal field," I say (with lots of hope that he's my savior and can get me a JD preferred position in his company where he serves as in-house counsel).

"Oh.  I'm between jobs as well.  Too bad. I thought you may have some leads."  

"I was hoping you would too."

Yah.. so my little day dream is just that. But, like I said, I'm not hopeful.

By the way, the first thing I did when I lost my job was email "Every Joe Schmo I Know" [hereinafter, "EJSIK"] to tell them my situation.  I'm your long time [or] long lost [or] dearest and/or nearest friend... whatever.  I need help.  I am looking at imminent homelessness (when my savings evaporates) and if ever I needed a favor--it's now.  EJSIK were obviously sympathetic. I can tell that they wanted to help.   They all gave me the standard, "We're not hiring here, but I will circulate your resume to everyone I know."  And I appreciate EJSIK so much for the effort.  But people can only help you if their company/law firm is hiring.  And if they aren't hiring--they can't help you.  That's life.  

So, what's the benefit of networking again? I've gotten a few calls from places I've cold applied too.  I think I'm going to go with indeed.com and monster.com and see how I do.


  1. I have seen the video you posted earlier and I laughed myself to tears. I had so much in common with that virtual law school graduate. The video even reminded me of my first visit to career services. It was the advice of many people in my "network." Doesn't your school have a career placement office?

    It was a waste of my time and the director's time. I said that I simply wanted a legal job that paid around $40k and she led me instead down a path of philosophical and visionary soul searching. It was no matter that my student loans were due, according to her. I had to find myself and focus my job search.

  2. I'm glad you posted this, Angel. I get so tired of idiots who say, "Network, get your name out there, and don't be afraid to work hard. Good-paying legal work is available to those who search for it." Yeah, sure it is.

    Hell, even the potheads and alcoholics in law school work hard, study commercial outlines, use flash cards, etc. I have also seen plenty of lawyers work so hard, that they work themselves out of a job (this happens on contract work and doc review all the time).

    I constantly see older lawyers in Salt Lake (I also saw it in Des Moines), with YEARS of experience, who go to court in worn clothing, cheap shoes, looking disheveled and disorganized. They look like they are miserable and financially struggling. And these are the old bastards who have been doing this for decades!! I got it - maybe they didn't network enough when they were in law school.

  3. Right with you, Nando. Exactly what will networking do for a TTT grad with average grades? I didn't get my job as a result of career services advice or a cocktail party.

    Networking only benefits the trade organizations that host it, the caterers, and the retail clothing stores.

  4. Actually, networking may work if you've already gotten the interview... to distinguish you from the crowd. But in my experience, landing the interview is the hardest part. I'm usually a good interview. But if you can have someone call something in for you... that's a good thing. Nothing that can't be accomplished via linkedin or facebook, really.

  5. There are two incredibly shortsighted problems with your attitude. First, it is a fact that, if you asked (with a smile) 500 lawyers for a job or job leads, you will get a good job as a lawyer. Life is a numbers game. Whether you get laid or get a job (or land clients), you just need to hit on as many opportunities as possible. Second, law is all about getting clients nowadays, not about practicing. So your attitude towards networking tells all partners that you do not have the social skills to get new clients (or keep happy old clients). People who pay you $300 to $500 per hour want friendly, ass-kissing attorneys at their beck and call. That's just the way it is.

  6. The biggest problem with networking is that people get laid-off, fired, or what-not; then they think they have to network to get a job. Networks take years to build. If you want the give-take networks, then you have to give and have something to give. The average grad showing up at a networking event with a bunch of business cards will most likely have zip to show for his efforts.

    When I did taxes, I gave away a lot of advice and even some free work. I have about a 45% return on that investment now. I have to admit, it got me some legal interviews I could not have gotten through traditional avenues or sources. But, the legal market is so saturated; I can't cash in with my little legal experience.



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