Embracing the Power of Old (and New) Ties: Networking lessons learned over brunch

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How connections are important to your well-being, growth, and success!


Last Saturday morning, I had the delightful opportunity to serve as the emcee for the University of Minnesota School of Law Alumnae Brunch, hosted by the Minnesota Law AluMNae Network during our alumni weekend. 

As someone who sits on the board and participated in the planning, the experience was not only a chance to reconnect with familiar faces but also a powerful reminder of the importance of maintaining connections with old friends and colleagues.

As we gathered together and I got to chat with women who had graduated both decades before me and years after me, I was thinking how keeping connections is so good for us. I lean into the six dimensions of well-being articulated in the report from the National Taskforce on Lawyer Well-Being, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being”. Those six dimensions (on page 9 if you are curious) are occupational intellectual, spiritual, physical, social, and emotional.

Making and keeping connections can be important to all six dimensions in some way, but I think that social well-being and occupational well-being are the most strongly impacted. 


Why Keeping Connections Matters

  1. Emotional Support and Friendship: Old friends provide a unique emotional support system because they've known you through various phases of life. They understand your background and have been part of your journey, offering comfort and understanding that new acquaintances may not. I grew up in a very small town in northern Illinois. No one understands what it was like growing up in Franklin Grove like my high school classmates (I’m also on the planning committee for our 30th high school reunion this summer - I’ll post pictures!). 
  2. Networking Opportunities: Connections from your past can prove invaluable as networking resources, helping you discover job opportunities, business ventures, or professional collaborations. Every one of my jobs and a lion’s share of my business was a result of networking. Even though I’m a bit of an introvert myself, I always share the power of networking - both because it’s fun and because it can lead to incredible professional opportunities and business. I love talking about how business development can be enjoyable, authentic, and highly effective!
  3. Perspective and Growth: Long-term relationships help you see how you and your peers evolve over time, offering insights into your own growth and changes in your perspectives, reinforcing a sense of continuity and identity. I loved hearing the stories of what law school and the profession were like from women who graduated years before me. Their stories were powerful, and I learned so much from them and their wisdom.
  4. Access to Diverse Skill Sets: Your old classmates and friends will likely have ventured into various fields, providing you with access to a broad range of skills and knowledge that can prove beneficial in both personal and professional contexts.
  5. Exchange of Ideas and Recommendations: Staying connected with old friends often means you can exchange valuable recommendations and ideas about things that matter to you. Whether it's a referral to a trusted service provider, suggestions for must-visit restaurants, or travel tips, your network can enhance your experiences and decision-making with their diverse insights.


How to Maintain and Deepen Old Connections

  1. Reach Out Regularly: Make it a habit to reach out through social media, emails, or even traditional letters (I love to send handwritten notes!). Regular communication helps keep the relationship alive and current.
  2. Organize or Attend Reunions: Like our alumnae brunch, reunions are a perfect opportunity to catch up in a relaxed setting. Whether it’s formal events or casual meet-ups, make an effort to participate. I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but reunions are a terrific way to catch up with a lot of people in an efficient way and they are basically organized for you - you just have to show up! I always walk away not only feeling reconnected, but with a few new connections that I wouldn’t have known or thought of if I hadn’t attended.
  3. Share Life Updates and Celebrate Milestones: Share important life events with your old friends. Celebrating each other's milestones, like promotions, weddings, or the birth of children, strengthens bonds.
  4. Offer Help Unconditionally: Be there for your friends when they need advice, support, or a favor. Offering help without expecting anything in return can deepen trust and strengthen your relationship.
  5. Engage in Meaningful Conversations: When you talk, dive deeper than the surface. Discuss your hopes, dreams, challenges, and reflections. Authentic conversations create a strong connection and mutual understanding.


As we navigated the delightful chaos and cacophony of the alumnae brunch, laughing over shared memories and marveling at each other’s life journeys, it was clear that these connections are more than just a professional network; they are a cherished community. 

Keeping in touch with people from earlier years enriches our lives, offering a blend of emotional sustenance and professional support. So take a moment to reach out to an old friend or connection today; it might just be one of the most rewarding actions you take.