Lawyers and law students should always be making new contacts. It is a good idea to connect with individuals at formal events, build relationships on social media, and volunteer in your community. Once you make these connections what do you do with them? Consider conducting informational interviews. Here are five steps to learning more about your connections and how they can help you.
- Make contact. A formal letter or email is the best start for reintroducing yourself. In your subject line include the information about how you are connected: “Georgetown Alum Seeking Advice.” If you met them at an alumni association event this is a great opening. Draft a letter that explains who you are and what advice you are seeking specifically. Acknowledge that they are busy and that you value their time to help you. Do not send your resume as this is an information gathering request not a job application.
- Do your research. Hopefully your new connection will respond and want to meet or talk with you. Be sure to do anything they request such as send a resume or schedule a face to face meeting. Learn about your contact. Read their bio and their LinkedIn page. Learn about what kinds of cases they take and where they worked previously. Also, be sure you can speak about your own background when they ask questions.
- Prepare questions. Since this meeting is all about gathering information you should be prepared to direct the conversation. Think of the top 10 questions you want to know about this individual or the firm where they work. Make it casual and informative and include questions such as “can you describe a typical day in your job?” and “how would you suggest I get started in this field?”
- Be honest but not aggressive. It is perfectly okay for you to indicate that you are looking for a new job but don’t be forceful about demanding one from your new connection. Make it more about them than you. Do offer your resume at the end of your meeting but ask that they take a look at it, give you their opinion and, if they know anyone looking for someone with your skills, feel free to pass it on. This will make them think about you as a potential candidate.
- Send a thank you note. It is very important to follow up with anyone who took their time to meet with you and talk with you about your career. It is completely acceptable to send an email the following day. Mention something specific that was helpful for you so the know their time was valued.
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