Networking is relationship building and is a key component to your job search. It is the ability to create and maintain an effective, widely based system of resources that works to the mutual benefit of yourself and others. Your network includes everyone you know including friends, relatives, and acquaintances. The individuals in your network may know people who have knowledge, even job leads, in your fields of interest. In fact, because many job openings are transmitted exclusively by word-of-mouth, whenever you are job hunting, it is a wise idea to tell everyone you know what you are looking for. The person you least expect may give you the contact that leads to your job opportunity. You are also more likely to be hired when you learn about a job through someone who knows both you and the employer: when selecting an employee, employers tend to give preferential treatment to those applicants they or their friends know.
Other networking sources include professors, work acquaintances, and alumni featured in the UT Law Alumni-Student Connections LinkedIn group; UT Law Mentor Directory; CSO programs and workshops; the Cocktails & Conversation Networking Reception; UT CLE conferences (free to UT Law students) and State Bar of Texas CLE conferences; state and local bar association meetings; parties; and informal gatherings also offer excellent opportunities to expand your network.
Effective networking requires that you be sensitive to how you approach people. If you ask a mentor or contact pointedly if they have a job opening, they may feel uncomfortable and cut short the conversation. Instead, such people generally are happy to advise you on areas of law, the marketplace, and effective job search techniques, and pass along names of other attorneys in your field(s) of interest. This approach to building a network is often referred to as “informational interviewing.” Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Walton, available as a reference book in the CSO eResource Library, contains an excellent discussion on networking and effective informational interviewing.