For those of you who are members of DRI, the March 17 issue of DRI's The Voice featured this article by KDC Immediate Past President, Claire Parsons. Just another reason you need to be a member of KDC and DRI!
How Do I Find the Time to Post on LinkedIn? I Follow My Dream
By Claire E. Parsons
In the legal profession, we like the term “plan” and tend to look down on the word “dream.” A plan sounds strong. It sounds like you know your business. It sounds like each step is charted out with a nice, little path that heads straight towards success. Dreams, on the other hand, are esoteric and ethereal because they are literally the product of a sleeping mind. Though they are often born from real life, they are usually so discombobulated that they rarely resemble it. So, we lawyers don’t admit to having dreams often, but we always have a plan.
Or so we think. Did you have a plan for 2020? I did, and I bet you did, too. But for most of us, all plans went out the window in March as states of emergency were declared, events were called off, and our offices were shut down. Despite this, I had a great year in 2020. And it wasn’t because of my plans; it was because of my dreams.
In November, I achieved one of my dreams: publishing a book, #Networked, which I wrote with nineteen other women lawyers who I found on LinkedIn. How did that come about? You guessed it: I met them following a dream. In addition to my law practice, I love writing. It is a passion that has slowly emerged over time as I allowed it. I started writing legal articles and then moved onto blogs about other topics, including law practice, life as a working mom, and mindfulness meditation. Though I had no clue what I was doing or where it might lead, it seemed I was pretty good at it. As I shared my work, people engaged with it, republished it, and expressed that they enjoyed what I had to say.
This led me to think, “Hey, maybe a lawyer at a small firm in Kentucky might actually be able to write a book someday that a few people will read.” In 2019, I started toying with this idea more and spoke to friends who had published books. They offered great writing advice, but also let me know that a network and a following would be helpful. By that time, I had already started posting on LinkedIn regularly to share my tips on life, law practice, and leadership. Having always been a nerd and someone who rarely presents in an Instagram-worthy pose, I was astounded to see that there was a whole community of other lawyers with an appetite for down-to-earth honesty, occasional bits of awkward humor, and real facts about life as a working parent.
When things shut down in March, I was fortunate to have already begun the process of creating this community. My new friends from the internet provided inspiration and support at a time when in-person inspiration and support was limited. From them, I got ideas, knowledge about how to use social media better, and so much wisdom about law practice, business, and networking. But I got something even more valuable: validation and confidence. Their feedback and support helped me realize that I had something to say, and that the world and our profession needed to hear it.
So, I kept writing daily posts about working at home, the value of being different, my struggles with perfectionism, anxiety, and mental health, writing, networking as an introvert, and things that mattered to me as a lawyer, a person, and a mom. And as I did, my network grew from around 500 to nearly 5,000 today. It wasn’t long until these new contacts led to business referrals and new opportunities to speak and write, including the chance to write and publish #Networked.
Don’t get me wrong. Planning is part of progress. You cannot survive on dreams alone. But my point here is that you cannot thrive without them. Planning helped me create a process for creating content. I used it to identify topics, pay enough attention to the algorithm to avoid being constantly batted down by it, and to grow my network consistently over time. But my dream of writing a book provided the inspiration and motivation to keep going. It inspired me to post on days that I did not feel like it and to keep coming back when a post didn’t do as well I expected. It gave me courage to reach out to new people who interested me, even though as an introvert my tendency is to do everything on my own. It reminded me that there was always something bigger that my small, daily actions might help me to achieve.
Other lawyers often ask me how I “find the time” to write so much and to post each day on LinkedIn. I think they are expecting me to give them a time management strategy. I think they are looking for a plan. Some of my co-authors have plans, some of which are described in the chapters of #Networked, and I admire them for executing their plans incredibly well. But I don’t rely on plans when I post on LinkedIn, blog, or write. I follow my dreams instead. It has allowed me to share ideas and parts of myself that I never thought I could, make friends who I never would have met otherwise, and create opportunities for my firm and myself where none existed.
If you are considering using social media actively or writing more, I do not dissuade you from planning. For us to manage our lives and practices and add anything new into the mix, planning, without question, is essential. But to create something where it didn’t exist before, or to try something that is new (and hard―and scary), or to keep on going and adjusting and learning from every failure requires more. To persist in the face of all of that, you need a dream. I sincerely hope that 2021 is much gentler with all our plans, but more than anything, I hope this year gives you a chance to dream.
Claire E. Parsons is a member at Adams Law PLLC in Covington, Kentucky. She is a member of the DRI Governmental Liability, Women in the Law, and DRI for Life Committees and a past president of Kentucky Defense Counsel, Inc. She is a frequent, writer, speaker, and certified meditation teacher, who recently launched a blog on mindfulness for lawyers called Brilliant Legal Mind. You can follow her blog on Wordpress or social media or connect or follow Claire on LinkedIn.
|This is the third installment in a three-part series from the DRI Women in the Law Committee, which previews three chapters—each written by DRI members—from the recently published book, #Networked: How 20 Women Lawyers Overcame the Confines of Social Distancing to Create Connections, Cultivate Community, & Build Businesses in the Midst of a Global Pandemic (available from Amazon.com). Each of these women share their struggles, celebrate their victories, and provide examples of how the pandemic has been not just a time of destruction and loss, but also a time for opportunity and growth. (Part one. Part two.)