• Ali Assareh

Networking Basics: Part I

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

This is Part 1 of a 3-Part post I want to do on Networking. Parts 1 and 2 are more relevant to law students / young lawyers / those who are "seeking" networking, and Part 3 is more relevant to more experienced practitioners / those who are doing the "giving". (The posts explain why these words are in quotes.) _________


1. Every week I get at least one networking request in some form of the note below. (I'm sure many of you recognize this form.)

2. I still have time and energy (no kids!) to respond to these sorts of requests, but it really takes time and energy, and lately I'm finding myself responding to these sorts of requests less and less timely (and much less excitedly).

3. In my opinion, this sort of request has two main problems:

3A. It comes from a mistaken model / understanding of networking: That one person "requests/gets", and the other person "responds/gives." Even outside networking, relationships of that structure are not sustainable -- and networking is all about relationships.

3B. The more common critique of this form, which you may have heard: That it is not "actionable." To respond to this request, I have to figure out who this person is, check my calendar, decide how much time I want to dedicate to this, "guess" what this person even wants to talk about, etc. Consider the alternative: "I am really interested in knowing what skills and experiences I need to focus on to be a successful in-house counsel at a CPG (consumer packaged goods) company. Would you have 30 minutes for a quick chat with me, next Tue at 2:30 pm Pacific?" Here, all I have to do is type "Yes" or "No."

4. I put the 3A critique before 3B because I think that's the priority critique. Networking is a relationship that is built over time. And just like any relationship, to be successful it needs to be balanced, respectful, and mutually beneficial. There are no one-night stands in networking!

In Part 2, I will share my views on how you can start building those relationships, especially when you think you have "nothing to give" -- we will shatter that mistaken belief!

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