Combining research and smart networking to learn about potential career paths can create powerful momentum.
Purposeful (in person): After you know a little bit about an industry and have your four questions (Step 2) in hand, go to a professional meeting. Introduce yourself as someone who is curious about the business and interested in finding a way to harness your legal training and experience in a new and creative way. There will be a continuum in your greeting from those who are deeply suspicious of lawyers to enthusiastic embrace by formerly practicing lawyers who will welcome you onto their path.
Recall the networking skills that you have used as a student and as a lawyer. Be consistent, be persistent and keep track of who you talk with and what you learn. When you are referred to someone, be sure to thank the person who sent you.
Best opening line: I have read a lot about X and I have some questions for you.
Worst opening line: Tell me everything you know about X.
Purposeful (electronic): This is the 21st century, and myfacebookspace.com/linkedin/Google+@twitter is at your fingertips. Use (don’t abuse) these tools to connect with the people, the businesses, and the industries that are your targets. Best reference: Amanda Ellis’ 6Ps of the Big Three, which outlines best practices for JD job seekers using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Serendipitous: Kimm Walton and every career services professional has dozens (hundreds) of stories about serendipitous networking. Everyone knows someone who found a job through her hairdresser’s husband, from the guy at the next treadmill at the gym, and from the person who sat next to his family at Vikings games for decades. The connecting thread is that everyone who thanks serendipity for employment is really passing the buck. They got their jobs because they spoke up. They talked about their job searches. They didn’t keep secrets.
Mind-reading and telepathy are lounge acts in Las Vegas. Telling your story to friends, relatives and perfect strangers enlists Serendipity – a random but real job search tool.
Tomorrow: Patience: Not-a-ramen-noodles schedule for alternative career shift (Step 4)