A hook for getting someone to respond

This post is a variation of many previous posts because people seem to keep asking LegalJob a similar question:

When networking, how do I get someone interested in talking with me and helping me?  Some items to think about:  (i) establish touch points; (ii) make clear you are not looking for a job from that person; (iii) be specific about the advice you are requesting; (iv) have a tangible goal; and (v) be sensitive to person's time, schedule, and ego.

Establish up front at least one touch point, some personal connection that you share.

  • The more unique the better.  Same college or law school is good but from the same town may be better.
  • Other examples
    • Similar/same type of work experience
    • Similar focus of study (if it is particularly unique, i.e., biomedical engineering not political science)
    • Connection to another person or persons
    • Same skill/hobby unrelated to work (playing instrument, fencing champion, etc.)
  • Explain that you are not looking for a job from that person
    • If they are not hiring, they may not think they will be helpful to you
    • Or they have many folks contacting them for job opportunities and you are just one more taking them away from work responsibilities
    • You have nothing to lose because if they are hiring and you wow them you can change your course
  • Be clear about what you do want from this person
    • You are interested in advice concerning opportunities at __ size firms doing xyz (the more specific the better)
  • Have a tangible goal so you don't waste your time
    • One goal could be to get the contact information of at least two more people (and permission to say that person suggested you reach out)
    • Another could be to learn specifics about what life is like in a ____ size firm, specifics about that person's practice (perhaps it is what you are interested in or the daily task items are similar to the practice area you are interested in)
  • Be sensitive to their time, schedule (with every interaction), and ego
    • Keep emails short and to the point (and state your request up front)
    • Keep phone and in-person meetings less than ten minutes (follow their lead if going longer)
    • Be prepared for the meeting so you make every minute count
    • Listen more than talk (no one cares what you have to say and people love to talk about themselves)

    Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net