Networking and Making Connections
Guidelines for Networking
- Ask your contacts for information, not jobs. Do not back these wonderful people into corners by demanding jobs that are not theirs to offer. Asking your contact for a job or for job leads makes that person uncomfortable, and people tend to avoid discomfort and the people who cause it. Instead, ask for information about various career opportunities, particular firms or industries, or geographical areas.
- Never make a request which your contact cannot fulfill. You want your contact to get in the habit of saying "yes" to you, and, in the process, feeling good about his/her association with you. For that reason, you will ask for information, advice, critique of your well-drafted resume, or the names of others in the field to whom you should speak. You will not ask for a job.
- State your purpose early. Your contacts have been burned in the past by people who presumably only wanted information, and ended up asking for jobs. Let them know early on that you are interested in their expertise and advice -- and don't slip in job requests when their defenses are down! Your contact is not hiding jobs from you, waiting for you to ask for them. If you have favorably impressed your contact through your networking behavior, s/he will tell you about all the job openings of which s/he is aware.
- Make sure that your contact has all relevant information about you. To introduce yourself and perhaps to get valuable advice, provide him/her with a copy of your resume. When your circumstances change, let your contact know.
- When you meet and talk to your contacts, focus on them, not on yourself and your needs. You are there to obtain information and people love to give it. You have chosen these people for good reasons: they're in the practice areas you enjoy, the firms you want to join, or they exhibit the personal, professional or ethical values you want to emulate. Ask them questions about their careers and let them talk.
- Give positive feedback. The service your contact is providing is valuable; make sure you acknowledge that value, both in person and in writing.
- Keep good records. Make sure that you know to whom you spoke, when the discussions took place, and the substance of the conversation. Then, when you contact people for a second or third time, you will not embarrass yourself or waste their time by recovering old ground.
All of this takes time and effort. There is no short-cut, no streamlined method for developing and nurturing contacts and developing a job network, nor should there be. Since hiring decisions are often based on trusting relationships, you must allow time for those relationships to develop.
Attorney Networking Directory
The Career Services Office has established a network of attorneys who are willing to speak with our students about their legal careers. This information is password protected and only available to current University of Pittsburgh School of Law students. It can be accessed at the School of Law's Extranet.
This Directory is not intended as a recruitment or job searching device, but rather as a wonderful opportunity for law students to contact attorneys to gain general information about a career in law, specific practice areas, professional values and responsibilities, and insight about the current legal market in certain geographic locations.
Whether you meet in person or speak with an attorney via telephone, ask detailed questions about the attorney’s background and what got them to where they are now; ask questions about what they do now, their practice area and most interesting projects; be prepared to answer questions about yourself; ask who else the attorney thinks you should talk to; and, most importantly, thank the attorney for his/her time.
After you talk to the attorney, send a thank you note, pursue any new leads, and remember to keep in touch with your contacts. Happy Networking!
Pitt Career Network
The undergraduate Pitt Career Services and Pitt Alumni Association have partnered to provide a network of Pitt alumni. The Pitt Career Network is an online directory of Pitt alumni volunteers and details about their careers and professional experiences. This is a resource for alumni and students seeking career-related information, insight and advice. Only registered Pitt students and Pitt graduates who have registered for the free Alumni Online Services have access to this site. Click here to visit Pitt Career Network.