This isn’t my normal kind of blog post, but I spent Wednesday night and Thursday in Los Angeles to attend a conference and I’m inspired by the people I met. I want to share the highlights of what I learned that might be relevant to law school hopefuls (or really to anyone building a career).
Networking Gets You Further
One of my all time favorite clients (Ok, they’re like kids to me and all favorites in their own way, but this one is particularly cool) met me for drinks at the W hotel. I rarely get to meet my clients face to face, but I feel like they become good friends, or at least younger siblings, and we definitely bond during our time working together so actually meeting one is always a treat. Jesse was always fun to work with and always knew what he wanted to do with his career.
He chose a great law school, but not one that was particularly known for his chosen specialty. He knew the job he wanted, and he campaigned for it for 5 months. He took every extra step to show this was what he wanted, including refusing a phone interview and instead flying himself down to the interview – and rushing through his Constitutional Law final to get there on time. More than 3,000 people applied for the job. He got it.
Is this the end of the story? No way. He’s working hard all day and spending every night at mixers and setting up meetings with people from every angle of the industry, picking people’s brains for advice and career tips. He has already gotten two invitations to apply for jobs for NEXT summer. I love this guy! Learn from him! Take the initiative and don’t stop at building a resume – get to know as many people as possible. People like people, not paper.
(Plus, shoutout to Jesse for helping others – he is always the first to volunteer and ask how he can help me, to offer to speak with anyone thinking about attending his law school, and to talk to anyone else who might go into his area of specialization. This is incredibly generous, and what goes around comes around).
Making Business Connections
Last month, I hosted a BlogTalkRadio show about Last Minute Tips for LSAT Takers. I had three LSAT experts scheduled to participate. Within an hour of the show’s start time, I got a call from a test prep company I was not familiar with but it sounded cool and I mentioned the fortuitous timing. I told the rep that if the director was available for the radio show in the next thirty minutes, I’d love for him to participate. He jumped on the phone, said he was absolutely game, and I was definitely impressed with his contributions to our discussion. He joined Jesse, me and my friend (and financial planner) Dianne for drinks.
I really enjoyed speaking with Paul and it turns out we have very similar philosophies regarding helping law school applicants; we definitely understood each other and we’re in a position to help each other’s clients. I found a fantastic option for personal LSAT tutoring in 17 locations around the U.S. and he has a place he can refer his LSAT students when they want advice about the admission process. I dare say we forged a friendship as well. All of this from reaching out, making efforts, and knowing that business is really about people.
Then, the conference. The point of the conference was to motivate career women but the best part was sitting at a table of women (spanning the generations) and learning about their businesses and how they build their businesses. Cards were exchanged and connections were made. The next time I know someone who wants to find a headhunter, I now know a great person to call. I met a woman who wrote a book about time management and calls herself a Branding and Productivity Coach.I recognized her as the planned last speaker of the day and introduced myself, told her I was looking forward to her presentation, and we exchanged cards. When she needed a volunteer from the audience, she chose me.
Go Out of Your Way to Be Nice To Everyone. And yes, I mean everyone!
I met a woman going through a really tough time personally who forgot her checkbook but really wanted the keynote speaker’s autographed book. She looked like a bit of a wreck – the fact that I knew her husband just had an organ transplant before I even knew her name sort of tips you off to that. Despite this, a total stranger gave her a blank check and said, “here’s my card – just send me a check when you get home.” I saw how that simple act of kindness made this woman’s whole day. It was an exceptional moment. Later, I heard the having-a-hard-time woman on the phone with her boss who was the president of a bank. She gave the name of the woman who helped her and told the bank president to send clients to her for financial planning advice. Again, what goes around comes around.
How does this apply to law school applicants?
As you go through the application process, remember that this is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Remember that there is more than one way to work an angle. Be nice to everyone you meet, even a rep from the school you think you’ll never apply to because you’re expecting a 168 on the September LSAT, and even the person sitting next to you in your prep course who you think would never in a million years also end up sitting next to you in law school.
Ann, great advice – you’re totally right. They say the true test of a person’s character is in how they treat somebody who cannot be of “use” to them. Everyone is nice to somebody whom they think can help them. But it takes a person of substance to be compassionate and generous without expecting anything in return.
I love your blog and read your advice religiously. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!