The biggest obstacle most people face in networking is getting the other person to start talking! Once you get the conversation started, it usually flows from there. The great part about being a student is that once you meet a practicing attorney and they find out you are a student who is interested in anything about them – their practice area, their geographic area, their career path, whatever! – they are usually willing to do all the talking from there! This is great for you because you can (1) meet a new contact, and (2) hopefully learn something that will be valuable in determining your career path.
So it is helpful to always have some “fall-back” questions ready that you can ask whenever you want to get the conversation started. (Don’t forget, an impromptu networking opportunity may be waiting for you in line at Starbucks!). After you have found out what the person does and where he or she works, here are some suggestions to get the conversation rolling:
- What is your typical work day like?
- How much variety is there in your work?
- What experience did you have to get your job?
- What professional organizations do you belong to?
- What do you see as the major issues / trends in the field today?
- What do you wish you had known about your position / this field before you started?
- What do you like (or dislike) about your position / this field?
- What classes do you recommend I take during law school?
- What recommendations do you have for me regarding a job search strategy?
- Is there anyone else you recommend I talk to about this position / field / geographic location? May I tell them you referred me?
Now get out there and START MAKING CONNECTIONS!