Revisiting: Friendship is Valuable.Posted: September 18, 2009
This is a re-post of post on networking I wrote in May titled Friendship is Valuable. After reading a posting yesterday on the New York Law Journal’s blog titled Rainmaking: It’s Not Just for Old Guys Anymore (really the part about smart socializing) I felt compelled to share again. Though the article is framed from the viewpoint of junior law firm associates, I think the concepts can be applied to any service related field.
“You’re not in law school to make friends.”
I, along with my future colleagues, were told this during a pre-law seminar the summer before we began our legal education.
Then, as now, I felt that “advice” was at the very least counter-productive and at most extremely harmful. I’m a social guy in general so maybe that is why those words rubbed me the wrong way. But as I progressed through Washburn Law (in lovely Topeka, KS) I came to understand that success in the legal profession (actual practice not academics), like the business world, relies in part on a degree of sociability.
In fact, I believe the practice of law requires a great deal of social skill, not only in working with clients, but developing clients and most importantly advancing in a firm.
Attorneys are selling their SERVICES. That’s right, attorneys are salesmen, and a law firm is essentially Wal-Mart or Nordstroms, all depending on what the client’s willing to pay. And it’s not enough to wait for clients to coming through your doors, firms rely on rainmakers to drive sales by engaging clients in the real world. Hint, the gal or guy who’s brining in clients will most likely be able to justify partnership over the billable hour workhorse. But I digress.
Networks and networking are the hot button topics today. People are losing their jobs, or nervous about losing their jobs and turning to LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever other social media they can to create a net for themselves.
And they are like the grasshoper that waited until Winter to begin gathering food.
People, please remember. NETWORK BEFORE YOU NEED IT. Coming back to what our speaker said, I understand what, I hope, she was trying to say. Law school isn’t college, time to study and put down the beer bong. I think though she could have been more specific. Law school, or whatever program your in, is the BEST time to make friends.
During school you’re all students, no one is a “name” yet. And believe that while you think you have people pegged in terms of who will be “successful” you don’t. You also never know where your practice or business will take you. I’m not saying you have to be best buds with your entire class, but burying yourself away for three years (in the case of law school) is foolish.
I’m a pretty helpful person, but honestly if someone I barely knew asked me for assistance versus someone I knew decently (I’m saying a conversation here or there over THREE years), who do you think I’d be more apt to help out? And I’m a friendly person, some folks won’t deal with you if they don’t know you, even if you went to the same school.
So maybe the speaker should have discussed making social friends versus professional friends. Social friends would be those folks you hang with regardless of your job. Professional friends, can be social, but more often they are people you are aligned with in your profession and
My point is this. In ____ school, making (professional) friends is probably one of the most important activities you can engage in.