This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.
When my mother would try to scare me into marrying, she would say how if I don’t have a wife and kids I will die alone and sad. That actually kind of scared me.
I am not a loner. I thrive when I am with people, amongst friends and trusted colleagues. I do like being alone a lot when it suits me, but I do not want to be lonely.
However, over time I reflected on this particular insecurity and realized that it is baseless. So, what gave me this confidence?
It is because I have developed the skill of building communities. I am still a student of the art and science of building thriving and cohesive communities, but it is something that I really value and has been a cornerstone of my career.
I did not start out this way. There was a time when I was an insecure, self-obsessed and turbulent person. I used arrogance to cover up my insecurities. I was blind to my shortcomings and was very argumentative, which drove people away from me. I brought no empathy to conversations, rather being driven by narrow and short term self-interest. It was hard for me to build deep, impactful relationships, which made it impossible to build a community.
Thanks to my unstoppable desire to better myself, I sought out training and coaches, who helped me to discover and work on my blind spots. I began to discover more things about myself and got past the point where I started building deep and meaningful relationships with the people around me. And that is how I began to understand and value community building.
Much of what LawSikho is today, is built around communities. There are communities of lawyers who contribute to creating courses and advise us. They derive satisfaction from contributing to a cause that is close to their hearts. There is also a visceral pleasure and satisfaction in seeing your knowledge spread and making a difference to people. It is not for everyone, but those who do it, do it because they love doing it. Definitely not for the money, because being a small company that we are, we have very limited resources.
The fact that we have built a veritable library of practical legal knowledge is a testament to the community of lawyers who have worked with us in-house or contributed their knowledge from outside. I am inspired when I see the results that a community like this can produce.
Another community is of those who are learning from these courses, supporting each other in the process of learning and even in their career. Each of our premium courses comes with WhatsApp groups where current students and alumni interact, discuss legal issues, answer questions that others have and even share referrals and job opportunities.
When learners interact with each other, even in an online course, the experience is enhanced. I met online course providers who do not want to create such groups, due to many insecurities. What if people start pointing out flaws in the course or service deficiency in the group? That would lead to mayhem, right?
We have a different take on it. We want our communities to tell us where we are going wrong very fast, so we can get better. That’s a very different approach than our competitors usually take, but it keeps us on our toes.
I want you to think about how you can build communities around you and your work. We recently started doing events in our office, on Saturday evenings after work hours. Why? Online communities are one thing, but what is even more powerful are physical communities that meet in person. What can happen when our students, prospective students, and speakers with great insights to share come together? Amazing stuff. We are loving it. This initiative has breathed life into our community.
What about personal communities? I invite a curated group of people to my house for dinner and drinks once in a while. I have recently started a foodie group for lawyers (if you are a lawyer in Delhi, and want to join it, send me a message with your Whatsapp number and we will add you). We basically go out on Sundays to try out interesting food in new places. It is a great way to be in touch with fellow lawyers in a fun environment for me. We also get to discuss and learn about a lot of things about what is happening in the legal industry.
I have taken a lead in creating a WhatsApp group for my college batch a few years back. It was great, it has helped me and others in numerous ways. Recently I pushed an initiative to create a Telegram group for all the alumni of my college because WhatsApp groups have a number restriction, and Telegram groups can have 75000 people in a group! What would be possible if all of the NUJS alumni can join a telegram group? Recently there was an alumni meet up of NUJS in Delhi and it was amazing. Could such things happen around the world? A pan alumni telegram group may help with that.
I have since begun to create a telegram group for our students and those who read our newsletters for the exchange of legal knowledge, referrals, and various opportunities. You can join it here. I plan to max out the 75,000 limits in the next 1 year. How would it be to have 10,000 or 15,000 lawyers in a single instant messaging group? Managing spam will be a nightmare, but I am sure we will find a solution to that as well. If you want to join the group, just let us know, we will add you. Or you can click on this link and join: https://t.me/joinchat/J_0YrBa4IBSHdpuTfQO_sA
Networking is a baby step. Community building is the next level of networking. I want you to think about it: how can you add more value to people around you? How can you connect more people and give them a great environment to interact?
- Can you start some events? You can host an event with your peers or potential clients on a budget under INR 10,000. You can even do a BYOB party for next to nothing. However, how are people going to benefit from coming? Why would they want to keep coming?
- What are the communities that you are already part of? How can you contribute more to those communities?
- What communities will you like to build? What would be the vision?
Here are some courses coming up in which you can enroll right now and start studying:
Diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations
Executive Certificate Courses
Certificate Course in Real Estate Laws
Certificate Course in Arbitration: Strategy, Procedure and Drafting