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Networking from out of state

Q: I'm a legal aid attorney in Maine (I've been practicing for three years) and I'm hoping to both transition back to Massachusetts and out of the non-profit world. I'm having a hard time making contacts. Any suggestions?

A: Well, first welcome back to the Massachusetts job market. It is both a difficult time to land a new job (now that we are officially calling it a recession), as well a difficult time of year (December) to find new work, especially from afar. Difficult but not impossible.

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First, you mention that you are "transitioning" back to Massachusetts. So I am assuming you lived here at one time. Do you still keep in touch with key contacts? Think about using the month of December to re-connect with some of those contacts. Your professional contacts and former colleagues will be key to your search. Additionally, I am curious where you went to law school. If you attended a college or university in Boston, contact the alumni association or career services office. Even if you didn't attend college in Boston, I would bet that you attended a college or university that has a Boston-area alumni group.

Also, think about ways to gain entry back into the state's professional and legal communities. Think about attending seminars or briefings in the Boston area if possible. As a practical matter, December is not the most robust hiring month, but that quickly changes in January.

Because you are launching a job search from out of state, a placement agency (with a focus on the legal profession) might be especially helpful.

Lastly, I am a firm believer in holding yourself accountable. Set yourself a goal (weekly is probably best) for networking and developing contacts. It could be 3, 4, or 5 a week. Pick up the phone, e-mail a former colleague, connect on Linked In or attend an alumni association event. Don't be afraid to ask a colleague for a favor -- getting introduced to someone via e-mail introduction or something similar can be considered a reasonable request! Hold yourself to that networking contacts goal.

Good luck.

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