Different from cover letters, which would be sent for specific job applications or inquiries, networking letters are sent for advice or to establish informational or networking contacts.
Reserve networking letters for your top valuable contacts, those who can advise you about key markets, geographic or practice areas.
Use a networking letter to contact employers if you do not know their hiring plans or timeline.
LCS staff are always happy to help you with letter drafts and with thinking through the sorts of conversations you might have with networking contacts.
In most cases, the networking letter is too soon to include your resume. If you do enclose one, be certain to indicate that you are doing so for purposes of introduction only.
You can send the initial contact via mail or e-mail. If sending by e-mail, try to write a subject line that will not get snagged by spam filters.
Allow the same amount of time for reply for both mail and email - 2 to 4 weeks.
A great way to open a networking letter is with some reference to how you learned about the individual. Let them know if a mutual contact referred you, if you read about them in a legal publication, or learned about their work through the news or a legal directory.
Be sure to include information you have in common with the individual you are contacting (law school, undergraduate school, geographic location, practice area interest).
Focus on the fact that you seek to develop your career path, do not mention the immediate job. You don't want the discussion to end if they are not hiring.
If you can give some structure or motivation for meeting, that is helpful. For example, let them know when you will be visiting their town.
Don't try to cover all the points in your letter. You are setting the stage for an appointment (in person or by phone) to further the discussion and mentor relationship.