Last month, I focused on the value of my mentors. Coincidentally, I recently came across a person on TV who refers to himself as “The Superconnector.”
Chris Winfield advises new college graduates to connect with the 20 most influential people in their lives — he recommends sharing the job they really want with them, and asking for their help.
I appreciate this lesson in networking. I wish networking was a skill taught in school when I was there. I suspect it is now. But in reflecting back, I realize I would have been completely overwhelmed by that advice.
First of all, when I was a recent college graduate, I had little to no awareness of who in my life was influential. I wasn’t thinking about “making connections,” professional or otherwise. In fact, it wasn’t until launching ABD Law, over 15 years into my legal career, that I fully understood the power of networking.
Also, I wouldn’t have been able to identify my “dream job.” My professional path has always been more about the journey. I wasn’t a kid that ever planned to attend law school. When I got to Penn Law, I was intimidated by students who envisioned saving the world after graduating. I’ve never even had a five-year plan. Does anyone still do this anymore?
Once becoming entrenched in Big Law, I just worked hard (often until the wee hours of the day/night). For many years, I was on the grind! This rigorous lifestyle built up my stamina and endurance, and reinforced my already solid work ethic. But, when I lost my job in Big Law, I suffered from the loss of my identity. After 16 years, I didn’t know who I was, if not an attorney in private practice.
Today, I’m grateful for my unwillingness to commit to any particular long-term professional plan. The practice of law has been disrupted by developments in technology. What I do today (solo practitioner, working from home) was inconceivable 10 years ago, let alone when I graduated from law school or college. Upon launching ABD Law, a variety of new and interesting opportunities arose and continue to come my way.
I embrace being a Rezooming Attorney, and once I started leveraging my network, I stopped looking back. Although I never know when or where my next deal is coming from, I’m comfortable with that uncertainty because I trust in my network and the goodwill I have developed within that community. Although it was a bumpy road getting here, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kudos to you, Chris Winfield. I applaud you for teaching the kids to think about the importance of networking early on in their careers.