Posts Tagged networking

Want to Work in Legislative Affairs? Get Ready to Network Your Way In.

By: Steve Grumm

Here’s a piece in the ABA’s Young Lawyer entitled “Careers in Legislative Affairs.”  (Access seems to be restricted to ABA members.)  The author, who worked in the Illinois state legislature, reviews the arrays of opportunities available for law grads on the federal, state, and municipal levels. 

He also closes with some advice that highlights the value of networking to land legislative jobs:

Strategic networking is the best way to become aware of opportunities and present your best candidacy for any of the positions described here. It’s helpful to always be reviewing this quick checklist:

  • Is my elevator speech tailored to my audience? Can I present my background, skills, and aspirations in a concise and compelling way to engage people in conversation?
  • What venues will introduce me to people who can advance my career aspirations?
  • Am I regularly tracking my network to ensure that I am engaging every relevant contact to advance my plan? Am I updating my contact list to reflect people I’ve recently met?

As anyone who’s worked, or looked for work, in Washington, DC knows, whom you know can be as important as what you know.  This can be frustrating for the more meritocratic-minded.  The best way to think of it is that whom you know will help you get to a position where you can thrive on what you know.

Here are some other resources on legislative careers and networking:

If you know of other good resources please post in the comments section.  Thanks!

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Landing the Job: Keeping Track of Your Job Search

by Kristen Pavón

Today, I got an unexpected email from a fellow 2011 law grad who was interested in learning more about the Job Search spreadsheet I use to keep track of all my job applications.

In case any of you want to use my method, I’ve created an Excel template you can try out.

Here’s a screenshot of the template. At the top, I have Employer, Job Title, Location, Materials Required w/ Deadline, Send to, Date Applied, and Notes. Jobs I’ve already applied for are highlighted in green, jobs I applied to but didn’t work out are in gray, and jobs that are in the queue to apply to are in red (you can click on the screenshot to see more details).

The template I’ve included here can also be uploaded onto your Google Docs. I use both Google Docs and Excel (if you use both formats, make sure to keep them updated!). I keep my Excel spreadsheet in my Dropbox folder so I have access to it whenever and wherever.

In addition to this spreadsheet, I also maintain a Networking Spreadsheet to keep track of people I’ve met along the way. You can use my template here.

Here’s a screenshot of my networking sheet:

I know, I know. It’s not nearly as colorful as my job search spreadsheet, but it works. At the top, I have Name, Organization/Employer, Contact Information, Meet Details, and F/U Notes.

Under Meet Details, I usually add a few keywords that will jog my memory on how/where/when we met. I always make sure to include who, if anyone, introduced me to the person. I keep my F/U Notes column updated with my latest contact with a person, including last time we emailed or met for coffee, etc.

I hope this helps! Do you have any other tips for keeping track of your job search efforts?

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Be Bold…In Your Job Search & For Your Professional Development

by Kristen Pavón

One of my favorite inspirational quotes is “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid” — although, I’m pretty sure that that’s a paraphrased version of the actual quote…

Regardless (or irregardless if you’re from Miami — have you seen this youtube video?! I won’t link to it here because, well, it’s not appropriate — but google it, it’s hi-larious!), it’s a quote that, in this economic climate, should really be put to use.

In an article on National Law Journal by Ari Kaplan, author of Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, explains that he was given the advice to “be bold” by Richard Susskind when he asked how he could expand his career opportunities in 2012. Here’s a snippet of what Kaplan wrote:

I have spent much of the past two months considering the meaning of boldness, both personally and professionally. The idea intimidates me, but also reminds me of trying to meet Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1996 while working in the Office of Foreign Missions during my second summer of law school.

I simply walked into his office suite and asked his assistant whether he was free. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hi, I’m Ari Kaplan, is the secretary available?”

Confused pause.

“Who are you?”

Signature smile [a cross between Seinfeld’s Kramer and Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura].

“Yes, I’m Ari Kaplan, I work here.” [Badge connected to the traditional Washington silver ball chain hanging from my neck swings proudly.]

“Who?” [a common repeat question in the sitcom that is my life].

Less confidently, “Ari Kaplan.”

She stands with authority.

“Excuse me.”

She walks away.

I can’t believe this is going to work. What a great story. Why are these people watching me?

She returns. “I’m sorry the secretary is busy.”

Undeterred. “I just want to introduce myself; I work here.”

Unpersuaded. “I’m sorry.”

Dejected. I walk away.

The nearby guard enjoying the dialogue asks: “Where are you from?”

“Brooklyn,” I respond.

He laughs. “You’ve got chutzpah, kid.”

Sure, trying to get in an impromptu meeting with Secretary Warren Christopher didn’t work out for Kaplan, but so what? His story resonated with me because nothing bad happened to him after trying his luck. A piano didn’t drop from the ceiling onto his head because he took a bold step that didn’t work out the way he hoped it would.

So, I guess I’m saying — take a leap. Make bold moves for the sake of your career because you never know what will come of it.

Yesterday, my colleague and I went to a discussion on legal pipeline programs. One of the speakers, Veta Richardson, shared a story with us about how a risky choice paid off early in her career.

During her second year of law school, she came across a paid internship with Sunoco. By the time she applied, the 5 spots were already filled. Regardless, Richardson wrote a letter to Sunoco’s general counsel and told him that she would work in the legal department for the summer for free if he would just give her a shot. Well, he did. And at the end of the summer, she was one of the two interns who were offered permanent positions.

Thoughts? How have you been bold lately?

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Networking is a Must-Do… Even for Introverts!

by Kristen Pavón

Introversion has been on my mind lately. A student, whose grad school personal statement I’m helping with, recently told me that she is an introvert and that as an introvert, she had a tough time adjusting to college life. It took her a while to find her niche and ways to cope with her introversion.

I haven’t taken the Myers-Briggs test in years and I can’t remember if I’m an EFNP, INFP or what, but in any case, I can understand how networking can pose a challenge to introverts.

Well, today, I came across a blog post on Harvard Business Review by Lisa Petrilli titled An Introvert’s Guide to Networking. Could there have been better timing? I think not.

You can read her entire blog here or you can purchase her book, An Introvert’s Guide here.

Here are my takeaways about turning your introversion into a career advantage from Lisa’s post and another post from Forbes.

1. Use social media to reach out.

This pre-introduction leads to a more relaxed and productive in-person connection. By reaching out, you open the door to potentially rewarding business collaborations, and you do so on your own terms.

2. Prepare before attending networking events.

Check guest lists if you can, think about what you want to learn from the attendees, come up with some things about yourself that you want to share, and have a mental list of general questions to start conversations rolling.

3. Set goals, or use Melinda Emerson’s Rule of Five

When you have set goals, it can be easier to forget how uncomfortable you are. As my husband says, Focus on the mission at hand! A good plan for networking events is using the Rule of Five:

Your target should be to secure five quality contacts at any networking event. Aiming for any more and you’ll struggle to make a real connection. Don’t be the chicken with their head cut off doing drive-by networking. Spend the time to have a real conversation, even if the person really isn’t a good contact.

4. Focus on one-on-one conversations.

Generally speaking, business events — and particularly networking events that require engaging with groups — are demanding for introverts. An antidote to this, I learned, is to seek out conversations with one individual at a time. When I approach events this way I have more productive conversations and form better business relationships — and I’m less drained by the experience.

5. Allow for re-energizing.

As I’ve learned, having to engage with groups or even a few people can leave introverts quite drained. Lisa Petrilli suggests allowing yourself 30 minutes in between commitments to recharge.

Any other tips  you’d add?

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Free Webinar Series: The Summer Public Interest Job Search

Save these dates — January 25th and February 1st!

NALP and Equal Justice Works are bringing you a free two-part webinar series on the most important phases of the job application process — cover letters, resumes, interviewing and networking!

Attorneys with years of application review experience will highlight do’s and don’ts; explain how and why public interest application materials may substantively differ from law firm materials; and explore the dynamics of personal interactions in interviews and networking situations.


    • Steve Grumm, Director of Public Service Initiatives, NALP
    • Stuart Smith, Director of Legal Recruitment, New York City Law Department
    • Nicole Vikan, Assistant Director for Public Interest & Government Careers, Georgetown University Law Center



    • Nita Mazumder, Program Manager for Law School Relations, Equal Justice Works
    • Nicole Simmons, Career Counselor, The University of Texas School of Law
    • David Zisser, Associate Counsel, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Don’t keep it a secret, tell your friends!

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5 Steps to Better Networking

by Kristen Pavón

I read a super informative article by small biz expert Melinda Emerson on pbSmart Essentials and I just had to share her tips on how to make networking more effective.

  1. Be Early: The networking reception is the main event. Once you are seated or the program starts it is very difficult to keep talking with people without being rude. So have your business cards ready to share in one of your jacket pockets. (That way you don’t need to go digging in that bottomless purse, ladies.)
  2. Have a Plan: Learn as much as you can about who will be attending the event. Look online at the board list and pay close attention to the honorary chairs on the invitation. Make friends with the event planner when you call to confirm your attendance. If you are really nice, you’ll get even more details about who will be at the event.
  3. Use the Rule of Five: Your target should be to secure five quality contacts at any networking event. Aiming for any more and you’ll struggle to make a real connection. Don’t be the chicken with their head cut off doing drive-by networking. Spend the time to have a real conversation, even if the person really isn’t a good contact. You never know who their brother or sister-in-law is and how they could help you down the line. All contacts have some value, even if you don’t see it immediately. Be present while you are talking — that means don’t look over your new friend’s shoulder for a better connection.
  4. Take a Friend and Split Up: You can cover more ground with two people than one. Many people make the mistake of bringing a friend and then standing at the food table with that friend. Go for the connections, not the salad! You should eat at home before you come to the event anyway. You want the friend there so you can swap business cards and contacts later.
  5. The Fortune is in the Follow-Up: Write notes on the backs of business cards as they are given to you. Have a plan for how you will follow up with each new contact. You should reach out to all of the contact through LinkedIn first, then you should decide if they will get an email, call or handwritten note. Give yourself a 10-day window to follow up. The sooner a new contact hears from you the better.

I especially like her tip on using the rule of five. This way, you have a concrete goal for the event and are more focused.

Anything else you’d add to her list?

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Print, TV, You’re Out. The Internet is Taking Over.

by Kristen Pavón

The Washington Post reports that TMZ founder Harvey Levin has advised TV and print media channels that their models are broken and they had better adapt or die.

While Levin’s journalistic credibility is …. questionable, at best, his comments got me thinking about how communication has changed and wondering whether we’re doing ourselves a disservice by relying so heavily on online communication, particularly for relationship management and when on the job hunt.

I’ve heard a lot about this issue lately, especially as it relates to Millennial law students —  they are losing touch with traditional forms of communication. They’re hesitant to pick up the phone to speak to someone at a courthouse or law firm and they’d prefer to exchange text messages rather than have a face-to-face conversation with a mentor.

Social media has changed how we discover new information and how we can connect with people with similar interests. However, social media makes it too easy to connect with other people and can cheapen the value of online interactions and in turn, weaken your relationships.

And with job hunters doing the majority of their job search online — searching career sites like PSLawNet, linking employers to their Linkedin profiles, using Twitter to find job opportunities, and even adding prospective employers as friends on Facebook or Google+. — it’s important to step away from the computer.

For real results, bring your online networking into the real world!

Meeting up with someone in person and chatting over coffee about your job search, cannot and will not be replaced with a tweet (Got that, Levin?). The real (and critical) value of social media is the offline relationship you can create and maintain by utilizing online networks.

Let’s bring traditional back — leave some of your traditional networking/communication success stories below!

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