Tiffany Farber is a solo practitioner who has been practicing law since 2008. As someone who has been through transition in her career, she understands the challenges lawyers in this situation face.
You know how your mom told you not to talk to strangers when you were a kid? Guess what? You’re not a kid anymore! You should go ahead and chuck that concept all together. Talking to strangers is the best move there is. It can land you a job or it can be a great rainmaking technique. The more you talk to strangers, the more you realize that they were never really strangers in the first place.
Let’s say you catch wind that one of your favorite authors is going to be speaking downtown. You really want to go see him, but you are afraid to go by yourself and none of your friends know his work. You suck it up and go anyway, but you are nervous because there is a cocktail hour beforehand and you don’t know who will be there. It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t let that stop you from walking up to the first person you see, extending your arm and saying, “hi, I’m [insert name here].” The person on the other side of your handshake will be genuinely interested in talking to you. Why?
Well, despite what you may think, you are interesting. I realize that some of you are shy or don’t enjoy “networking.” I respect that, but I can’t imagine that when provided with the opportunity to make a new friend you wouldn’t take it.
I recently attended a talk on networking. Someone in the audience asked, “How do I connect with someone I have nothing in common with?” My own response to that question is, You do have something in common with that person, you just don’t know it yet. There is a reason your mom told you not to talk to strangers when you were a kid. Kids talk to everyone! Parents have to teach kids to be careful because kids don’t yet have the ability to judge. I say, embrace your inner child and stop judging. Don’t put labels on other people, and especially don’t put them on yourself. You are more than your law license. You are an alumnus of a school, an avid fan of something, a parent, a friend of a friend, a member of some kind of group. You have many component parts that make up your story, and your story is interesting. Tell it to the person you are talking with, and I can assure you that something you say will resonate with them. It’s really that simple.
If you are in transition, there are so many opportunities to meet new friends. New friends can help you change your perspective when you’re down, they can point you in the direction of job opportunities, – they may even become your significant other or business partner one day. Once you realize that you can relate to everyone you meet, your mood will significantly improve and opportunities will multiply for you.
Your challenge this week is to connect with someone new. There are so many ways to meet people whether in person, or online. Stray outside your comfort zone a little and I promise you won’t be disappointed.