The Successful Lawyer: Volunteering and Networking – Tosin Ajose Popoola

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Dear Colleagues,

So, you’ve applied all the known techniques, you have invested in yourself, you’ve shown industry and discipline, you’ve been consistent and you are indeed visible. Your activeness on social media is top notch, advocacy skills is excellent, you have the patience of a solicitor. You have even gone further to carve a niche, you’ve embraced specialization whole heartedly, still you are yet to get the desired result. I understand the frustration, even the self-doubt is clearly understood. So, what approach will work, you may ask? While I cannot say that just one approach or method will work for you, and I want to believe that no human being knows the actual approach that would work and lead to that anticipated breakthrough, for if we knew it, then we would have no reason to strive for anything. The truth is that everyone is either trying to figure it out or making their approach work for them. There are a lot of approach, I had on this platform called for the initiation of mentorship relationship, I am not reneging for that is indeed one approach, another approach is Volunteering and Networking.

Now, are you aware that volunteering and networking are effective approach especially when you’re trying to break into a new sector? Or even trying to carve a niche for yourself. So, if for example, you’re trying to make a career out of Arbitration, Mediation, Block Chain or any of those emerging areas, apart from the requisite training and certifications, Volunteering and Networking is a sure way to open the door and further take a sit at the table. Let me say that again, if you’ve been knocking a particular door and it appears no one is about to open same or better still you have been unable to gain access to a platform regardless of the certifications and qualifications you have obtained, please try Volunteering and Networking.

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Over the years, some techniques or approach have been known to consistently work, Volunteering and Networking is one of those techniques. Apart from the gain obtainable from volunteering and networking, it’s a technique that adds to skills, character and advances career.

To Volunteer means to offer to do something for free or work for an organization without being paid. To do something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it[1]. You must be willing, it’s the willingness that makes it ‘Volunteer’, if it’s something forced on you, then it’s no longer Volunteer regardless of the fact that you are not paid.

 You may begin to wonder, after obtaining all those expensive certifications and attending the purse breaking trainings and seminars, how will the money spent be recouped with Volunteering. If this thought has crossed your mind, please note that it is not a winning thought, you need to shed same immediately.

Here are some of the benefits of volunteering:

  1. Volunteering makes room for connection: You’ve always eyed the high flyers in your Industry, you have always wanted to belong to that tight clique. Volunteering affords you a seat at the table. What you make of the seat afterwards is entirely your decision to make.
  2. Volunteering increases self-confidence: Sometimes, the only thing stopping us from actually moving is fear and low self-esteem. Once the fear is eroded and the self-esteem discarded, we become better equipped to actually pursue our dreams. Volunteering helps to erode fear and boosts our confidence level. It opens our eyes to all the greatness that we have and this further elevates our confidence and faith.
  3. Volunteering contributes to our sense of accomplishment: Everyone likes winning moments and sometimes, we just need to remember a winning moment and the emotion we felt then to forge ahead. Volunteering does same, it adds to our winning moment and gives us a sense of satisfaction.
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Before you think of volunteering, you need to answer these 3 questions truthfully: Are you a creative thinker? Are you a team player? Are you driven by passion? Your answers to these 3 questions determines your suitability for a volunteer role. I urge you to answer these questions sincerely and take action thereafter.

The other technique is Networking, in reality and sometimes you may have to network before even volunteering. This is because, you need to know the right people or organization where you can volunteer. You need to identify a place or person who will further sharpen your skills and introduce you, hence the need for networking.

At other times, networking comes after volunteering such that while you are in a volunteer role, you have the opportunity to network with people that can advance your career. There is really no custom made rule for which comes first, as a matter of fact there are times you have to do both simultaneously, little wonder, I call them the Siamese twins, they go hand in hand and work together perfectly for a desired result.

Networking has been defined as the process of trying to meet new people who might be useful to you in your job, often through social activities[2]. In as much as networking is the way to go, we have to do same with poise and from a place of value, we need to let our interaction reflect a deep sense of purpose. No one wants to associate with a pest or parasite. The more value you are willing to share, the higher the chances of success at networking.

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In recent times, Social Media has been one of the greatest tools of networking. I encourage us to be friendly on our social media platforms and at social or professional gatherings while creating engaging and intellectual stimulating conversations.

I hope you know that we are in a competitive world, the competition is tough and the stakes are high. Good grades and intelligence will not open the door, you need to force the door open through networking and take a seat at the table through volunteering.

See you at the top.

[1] Dictionary.cambridge.org>dictionary>volunteer

[2] www.collinsdictionary.com>dictionary>networking

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