Thursday, July 9, 2015

Answer the Call

I seem to be spending a lot of time networking these days.  Partly because it's a bit slow at work so I have time to devote to it, partly because I recently joined the board of the Austin Chapter of Association of Corporate Counsel, and partly because I've finally realized that you need to answer the call when someone reaches out to you. As in house counsel, we can get tunnel vision with the day to day of the job.  There is always one more contract to review, one more email to answer and not enough time to get it all done and still have some semblance of a family life.  So we tend to ignore the relatively easy side of professional development - answering the call when someone reaches out to connect with you.

I've had several recruiters reach out to me in the last 3 months.  Not only to attempt to recruit me to a new position, but also to see if they can be of service for my team or if I know anyone that is a fit for the role they're trying to fill.  Even on days when I'm overworked, over-stressed and REALLY don't feel like fielding a sales call, I answer the call.  At worst, I have a lovely conversation with someone who may have my next job even if it's not the one they're pitching now (and maybe make a new friend).  At best, I can connect and help them find the right person.  Which means that both the recruiter and the attorney/professional that I've connected them with will think of me the next time a position opens up.

Same thing applies when a local attorney looking for advice on the in house scene reaches out.  I may not be in the position to hire them now, or even give them sage advice on how to reach the next step.  But sometimes all they need is an ear to bounce ideas off or some insight into an area or a company that they hadn't considered before.  I remember being that newbie and needing advice.  I also remember very clearly the people who were too busy and those who took time to have coffee, lunch, happy hour or a 15 minute phone call.  Sometimes I'm asked about who would be a good fit for a great position - guess who I recommend.

And believe it or not, this applies to non-legal people too.  When the membership chair for that non-profit calls, the controller for that software company you met while at that tech focused happy hour, the salesperson for the contract management software you used to use but have replaced or even the cousin of that work colleague that wants to get into working with Autistic kids reaches out - answer.  Yes, you'll have to learn the artful skill of saying no to the sales pitches.  But, you may need that software in the future or may have a common interest with the non-profit.  You never know how they may add value to your life (professionally or otherwise) and it really doesn't take much to add a small bit of value to theirs.  

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