Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

26 Key Questions to ask While Networking


So what about that Hidden Vault of Awesome Law Jobs that can only be accessed through the Secret Power of Networking?

Does it actually exist? Or is it as fictional as Bigfoot and Elton John’s hair?

Well Harvard Law School says it’s real – especially when it comes to public service employment:

“Many public service job seekers find work through the ‘hidden market’ created by a network of employers, friends, fellow alumni and professional contacts. Over and over, experienced attorneys have told us that they found the right opportunities through networking.”

How then, if your name isn’t Indiana Jones, do you go about gaining access to this Temple of Law Gold?

Start by understanding that the goal of networking is not to get an actual job interview. If that happens, great.

But your real objective is to meet people who can offer advice, answer questions and provide even more names and phone numbers so that you will eventually have a golden path of contacts leading to the end of the rainbow.

Or something like that.

It’s About Building Relationships

The first rule of networking is to keep it professional. You’re creating a career, not making new pals.

Rule number two: become a compulsive list-maker. Start with the names and contact info of relatives, close friends and others who might be a referral source to someone inside an organization that you’re interested in.

Others who belong on your list: law school professors, alumni, students, speakers and panelists at law-related functions.

Networking: Questions to Ask

Next, you might wonder what questions you should ask at a networking event. Well, wonder no longer.

Harvard has done you the favor by publishing a list of 26 key questions for networking with individuals or potential employers:

1.      What are your primary job responsibilities?

2.      What experience did you have to get your job?

3.      How long have you worked here?

4.      What is your own background and experience?

5.      What is a typical work day like?

6.      How long is your work day?

7.      How much variety is there in your work?

8.      How much training/supervision do or did you receive?

9.      How much client contact do you have?

10.  How much contact and what kinds of interactions do you have with individuals or groups outside the office or organization?

11.  Does your job require that you travel?

12.  What do you like/dislike most about your work?

13.  What are the toughest problems and decisions you handle?

14.  What do you wish you had known about your position/the field before you started?

15.  What type of professional and personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work?

16.  What is the size and makeup of your organization?

17.  What is a typical starting salary for someone with my experience?

18.  What is the salary ceiling for an experienced lawyer?

19.  What do you see as the major issues/ trends in the field today?

20.  What books or journals would you recommend that I read?

21.  Which professional associations should I join?

22.  Do you recommend that I enroll in any particular classes (clinical or otherwise)?

23.  What opportunities for advancement are there in this organization or in the field?

24.  What would be a typical next career move for someone in your position?

25.  What recommendations do you have for me regarding a job search strategy?

26.  What other people do you recommend that I talk with? May I tell them that you referred me to them?

Any questions you would add to the list? Other suggestions about networking? Send us a comment.



Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney who has practiced North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact him

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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