Make it personal

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.

As I sent a text to a friend today, I wondered how many people out there have stopped actually speaking to one another.  Think about it, there seem to be a million ways to communicate these days – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, text message, e-mail, instant messenger – and none of them actually involve speaking.

Sure, you can efficiently, and sometimes effectively, communicate with messaging media, but it takes something away from the actual experience of communication.  Body language is absent from a heated text message conversation, as is facial expression and the cadence of a real time discussion.  Most of us get our face time fix during the day, but many of us conduct our affairs by clicking send.  This disturbs me.

Don’t get me wrong, messaging technology can be a great thing.  It’s easier to send someone a text that says, “be there in five” than to spend the time calling.  But, when it comes to job searching, you can’t just send a text to your potential boss that says, “hire me?  Y or N.”  You think I’m fooling, but bad habits are hard to break and the more e-mails and text messages you send, the more you rely on your fingers instead of your mouth.  I have received text messages from total strangers and I have found that to be very off putting.  People who aren’t used to communicating strictly over e-mail and messaging are really confused by the choice of these media over the telephone, and you risk alienating yourself if you can’t adapt.

You can e-mail a potential employer or contact, but you must, must, must follow it up with a personal connection.  If you can meet the person, that’s great.  If you can call them, that works too.  If you meet someone cool at a networking function, look them up on LinkedIn and consider adding them to your contacts.  But, if you are serious about getting to know them, don’t just let them parish in online social networking limbo.   It’s very rare that someone will hire a person they have never met in person or at least spoken to on the phone.

I meet many job seeking attorneys, so I started a meet-up group.  I e-mail with some of these folks, I chat with some of them over text.  In the end, I really want to see them in person.  I want to hear their stories in words, not Times New Roman.  Connecting is what makes us human and it is so necessary.

I am hopeful that the legal profession will always build in time for human contact.  We as attorneys will fight the urge to video conference and will actually meet with clients in person.  We will act as counselors.  At the very least, we will argue in front of judges and juries.

My plea is for you to choose in favor of human interaction instead of your smart phone.  After all, this is what separates us from the robots.

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