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So many law students and new attorneys think “networking” is a dirty word. It’s selfish, disingenuous, and awkward. It’s dreaded and hated. But the truth is networking is the number one way to get a job and build your career. Over time, networking is increasingly important. Many of the lawyers I’ve interviewed have never looked for a job after their first few years of practice. Every single opportunity came to them through their network. They were alerted to job openings before jobs were posted—and in some cases were the only candidates considered for the positions, offered jobs that ended up never being posted. Their networks handed their resumes to decision-makers and put in a good word for them. Their networks pushed their candidacies forward when necessary, calling decision-makers and influencers to vouch for them and proactively address any concerns. Their networks didn’t just help them get jobs. Networks also helped with securing speaking, publishing, and leadership opportunities within bar and other professional associations, alumni associations, and nonprofit boards. These are important technical skill-building and interpersonal skill-building opportunities that have the additional benefit of making networkers’ networks even larger. Every time a person in these networks was successful, they paid it back—helping others within the network. And so the entire group moved forward together. Those few lawyers who weren’t growing, nurturing, and using their networks were cut out of these opportunities. Worse, they didn’t even know it. Because so many of the advances the networking group made happened “behind the scenes” or “off the record.” Bob Non-Networker might know Craig Networker got a new job in the legal department of X Company, but Bob never knew Craig got the job by calling his former girlfriend, Susan Networker, who happened to be a sorority sister of the General Counsel of the company. The GC was so impressed that she never even got around to posting the job. Variations of this scenario happen every day. It’s easy to write off networking as something only the privileged do. Easy to claim that only the rich or Ivy Leaguers or whomever has access to the benefits of networking. But while its true that quantity and quality of networks can vary widely, everyone has access to the benefits of networking. So get out there and start building yours now! Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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