LegalJob was recently asked for advice concerning targeted networking and the response was posted in Monday's mailbag series.
Q: I would like to practice IP law in the fashion industry in London. Do you have any recommendations as to how I should start preparing for this?
You already have at least two things going for you. You have picked a specialty so you have an area to target and you have multiple touch points that will allow you to network in a targeted way. In addition, your name and background suggest that you may have direct ties to another country (either born outside U.S. or your parents were born outside the U.S.) that allows you to further distinguish yourself. LegalJob advises that you start networking with law firms that may represent fashion industry clients and take the following steps:
► Marshall your information resources
● The Career Development Office at your law school is a good place to start to obtain information resources. The folks in that office can help you identify alumni working in the area in which you have chosen to focus. Again, a starting point could be lawyers at large or boutique London law firms who are likely to work with clients in the fashion industry.
● Professors who teach IP may also be able to provide contact information of former alumni or others they know who you could contact for advice (not for a job). Professors may also have advice about practical work experience you can explore to help prepare you for this field.
● Friends, family, and even people that you have recently may be able to help you connect with the right people so speak up about your plans.
► Target your search using all your touch points.
When gathering the alumni information, use your touch points and try to obtain names of people that contain many of these items. People are interested in talking with and helping people they like and have a connection with. Chances are they will feel connected to you if you share four or more touch points.
● Same law school (all with have this in common because that is your starting point)
● Same practice area (Intellectual Property law)
● Same background (born in same country or parents from the same place)
● Same undergraduate college
● Similar work experience
● Similar interests (including the reasons you are interested in this practice area)
● Lived in same town (now or at some point)
► Practice persistence with your goal in mind when contacting the people on your list.
● Brief e-mail referencing your touch points and requesting five minutes of their time to discuss their background and advice for work experience (for you to pursue in law school) that could be helpful. In person meetings are probably better if feasible.
● Follow-up with a typed letter in the mail
● Follow-up with a call to the assistant of the person you wrote and ask for good times to catch that person
● Try each person two or three times at least before giving up
● Know that some people will not want to talk with you but do not be discouraged
● If you have ten names and connect with two, that is a win
● Have as a goal of each contact to obtain additional names of people you can contact that may be helpful
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