I entered the profession of law after the dot.com companies crashed. The tough job market taught me that it’s easier to succeed with the help of others than to grind at the task alone. Throughout my career as a litigator, my evolving success has taught me the value of mentorship trees.
CREATE YOUR MENTORSHIP TREES
Your professional support system is not limited to age, sex or type of profession. I have had many mentors, but I’ll highlight two so I can illustrate the importance of keeping an open mind and having as many mentors as you can find and have time to nurture.
I met a newly barred attorney named Carl at a young lawyers networking event. Although I was the seasoned attorney who wanted to help Carl get his first job as a lawyer, it was Carl who became my mentor. Carl quickly saw that I needed help in social media self-promotion. He met me on a weekend at a coffee shop and spent half the day helping me with my LinkedIn and AVVO pages. That was many years ago. Carl is now a founding partner at Accident Law Group in Phoenix. We remain friends and colleagues.
On the other end of the spectrum, an icon in the legal community, Leezie, reached out to me during my leadership as president of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association. Leezie saw what I was trying to do for the legal community and she offered to be my mentor. We met once a month for coffee and for an hour, we talked about me. Having that time to brainstorm with someone that has “been there, done that” was precious.
Thinking of others is an essential part of my practice, my time with organizations and with my family. Leezie’s friendship and time allowed me to pause and think about my own goals and direction. I will always treasure her mentorship.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL NETWORKING
Love it or not, networking with purpose is necessary. Below are some pointers I have found had a meaningful impact on my professional success.
RSVP regrets. Most likely, you are not able to attend every birthday party, luncheon, charity fundraiser, or happy hour for which you get an invite. If you know the organizers, let them know you appreciate the invitation and to keep you in the loop for the next opportunity to reconnect. If you’re attending an event, let the host know in advance. Even a “regrets only” rsvp is a way to stay connected with the host.
Target networking. I met one my closest friends in a parking lot. There was a crush at a restaurant, so I chose to head home rather than stay longer. On my way to the parking garage, I met my future friend also escaping. I told her that by meeting her, I fulfilled my personal goal of meeting one quality person at any networking event. To this day, every time I see her, she helps me make my quota of meeting one new person per networking event.
Don’t go to events alone. Once I know I’m attending an event, I see if someone I know will also be attending. If there is someone you want to meet, it’s easier to have a friend introduce you than to introduce yourself.
Respect your cheerleaders. We know to ask for help but I believe women need a reminder to share their accomplishments. When I was president of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association, a member shared with me that she thought the organization focused on honoring the accomplishments of private practice attorneys rather than those who worked for a public employer. She then shared with me that she had recently received a prestigious honor from her public employer. I congratulated her and told her that I would gladly share the good news with the organization’s readership. She declined. I wish she would have given me permission to announce her accomplishments. If it seems too direct to share the good news yourself, tell your circle of friends who will gladly share the good news on your behalf.
Make time for you. Each week, find time to follow up with people you met at a networking event, or share an article that you read with someone you’ve had in mind. If you discover you’re not following up with the people you met, this could be an indication you are spreading yourself too thin or that the contacts you’re making need to be more targeted.