Persistence vs pestering — networking for legal jobs

Legaljob was recently asked the following question:

Q. A professor told me to contact [Joe at big law firm], but he ignored my initial email and follow-up email. Should I call him at the risk of annoying him? Alternatively, should I email or call one of his colleagues? Or should I give up and just mail them both a resume and cover letter?

Good questions.  Some reactions to your approach and your questions:

► Nice job getting lead from professor and following through.

► Also, nice job on not giving up after one attempt.  People are busy and he may have just missed your e-mail or forgotten about your e-mail.

● Make sure you allow sufficient time to pass before your follow-up (two weeks or more)

● Another method to try is to befriend the assistant of the person you are trying to reach and brainstorm with the assistant about how best to contact the person (i.e., call at certain time, whether it makes sense to leave a message, whether it is acceptable to drop by in person perhaps in the morning, etc.)

► When you contact a person, make sure to stress that you are not looking for a job (at least from that person).  Instead, you are interested in talking about their career path either because:

● A person you both know suggested that you make the contact (which should happen frequently since your goal of every meeting is to get a name of a new person); or

● You share at least two characteristics in common with that person so you thought it would make sense to talk (i.e., same schools, same hometown, same hobby, same background, etc.)

► After two e-mails of no response, it probably does not make sense to send a third e-mail (but your next step will depend on the actual facts and circumstances of your case).  Try befriending the assistant or sending a regular letter and then calling the assistant to see if the person received the letter).

► You asked about calling his colleague.  Be sensitive to the fact that colleagues talk so to the extent you had a chance to connect with the first person, you may not want to muddy the water by getting aggressive and calling his colleague.  Also, see above.  Calling random people may not make sense unless you were referred or you share several items in common for which you can refer.

► It is not an exact science and there is a delicate balance between being persistent and being too aggressive.  People may be turned off if you are too aggressive.  However, the person who is not turned off may just be the one that gives you (or leads to) your first opportunity.

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