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After the Bar

Career Resources

Vulnerability: The First Step in Developing a Strong Network

Tamara Patricia Nash

Vulnerability: The First Step in Developing a Strong Network
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Four lawyers walk into Don Antonio’s Pizza in New York City.

No, this isn’t the beginning of a lame joke with a terrible punchline. It is the genesis of my squad—a dynamic and empowering professional network.

The four of us walked into Don Antonio’s hoping for some NY-style pizza for lunch with people we just met at the ABA Annual Meeting in 2017. We walked out with full bellies and #squadgoals.

Through my squad, I have learned how to navigate the complicated and sometimes nuanced topics of identity, authenticity, and the importance of creating and fostering a professional network.

Bar Associations Are Great Resources for Building a Network

For many lawyers and law students, the networks we often gravitate toward are bar associations. Those could be local, state, or national bar associations. The same is true for my squad; we were each involved in various bar associations. Then ultimately, our unique and personal journeys all happened to converge in the same place at the same time. We all joined the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, and we gained something profound and unexpected through our membership—a fierce personal network that never fails to show up.

Of course, the journey was not always easy. It took introspection, vulnerability, some elbow grease, and a slice or two of pizza to make it happen.

How did this fierce personal network come to be?

Vulnerability was the first step.

What Is Vulnerability?

Vulnerability is a process. It starts when you reveal yourself to the possibility of more—the willingness to take risks and expose yourself emotionally to others. The concept applies to both our interactions with others and interactions with ourselves. Brené Brown, PhD, an expert in the field of vulnerability, notes vulnerability as the “driving force of connection.”

Some may think of vulnerability as a broad concept, but what if we broke it down into smaller, more tangible pieces?

When is the last time you sought a network or unique space to develop or display your true self? Have you asked a group of lawyers to join their happy hour? Have you joined your local young professionals’ network?

Answering these critical questions will start your journey of introspection. It will empower you to live truth to life. The power to be unapologetically ourselves and sit in that realness of who we are, our culture, and our challenges. To be your true self in all circles—to be authentic. Further, this power implicitly permits those around you to be vulnerable and authentic.

Vulnerability Is Not Easy

Vulnerability is a process, and it can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. However, it is necessary to help you build a personal and professional network that will accept you for your authentic self (which we all deserve to have). If you are vulnerable, you will reap a vital benefit—you will identify the people you want in your life.

My squad sought out membership in the ABA Young Lawyers Division for independent reasons. Through the journey, we embraced our vulnerability. We sought new friendships, exposed our needs, and sought a safe place to grow and develop. Vulnerability looked different for each of us. However, the outcome was the same. We found a dynamic squad that works fearlessly to advocate for one another and never fails to show up for one another.

When you embrace your vulnerabilities, celebrate your authenticity, nurture your networks, and champion yourself, the possibility is the most splendid outcome.

Find Your Network!

I hope something in this story resonates with you and speaks powerfully to a struggle, hope, or goal you have. I encourage you to promote and be your best and authentic self. Further, find a network that will join the effort to advance your goals and celebrate your successes.

Truly, there is no telling where the journey may take you!

It may even lead to Don Antonio’s Pizza in New York City.