By Josh Beser, in-house counsel
This is the first of a series of posts on law firm business development from the perspective of in-house counsel. Josh is an associate general counsel and serves as an adviser to Law Leaders Lab, leading our 5 Coffee Challenge initiative.
After The New York Times asked him to write an op-ed, entrepreneur and author Jason Fried took a minute to think back on the chain of events that brought him to that milestone. He follows a winding chain as far back as he remembers, nearly 20 years of seemingly unrelated events. Reaching the end of his memory (but not the chain), he notes:
“…when you look back on events, it’s pretty incredible how things come together.Nothing happens independently. Everything is tied to something before it.Sometimes the links are more obvious than others, but it’s healthy to take a few moments to reflect on how many things – and people – had to come together in order for another thing to happen. You just never know.”
Fried’s milestones, big and small, leading to the opportunity to write for the Times – how he met his co-founders at 37Signals, how he ended up on Groupon’s board, etc. – show two clear things: first, a relationship underlies the core of each event, and second, at the time he formed these relationships, he probably had no idea how it would benefit him going forward. Each progression is built on some connection Fried built over time, often many years, before being asked to write for the Times.
Jason Fried’s example underlines an important point for all of us: in business (including the business of law), we need to build relationships with interesting people without expecting anything in return. Experiences resulting from those relationships can lead over time to extraordinary opportunities that will not otherwise exist for you, no matter your qualifications. Although this advice is especially helpful early in your career, it applies at every stage. Finding and meeting interesting people is always good, and interesting people are more accessible than ever. I started emailing and meeting interesting people for coffee or by phone in earnest shortly after I went in-house from Big Law. I should have done it 10 years earlier. It has changed everything about my professional life.
This concept of building relationships with interesting people is at the foundation of the 5 Coffee Challenge, an online business development training program that focuses on the basics – how to meet and create meaningful relationships with interesting people. We like to think of it as basic training for relationship development. Learn more here.