When I was in law school, BU, like many other law schools, started offering students a chance to get professional-looking business cards through the career development office. I thought it was a great idea: business cards are a nice, convenient networking tool that can quickly and concisely convey basic contact information, and, instead of using chintzy, homemade cards, by getting them through the law school we could take advantage of their sophisticated branding. Who wouldn’t want to get these?
Well, apparently some people. Former law student Jeremy Blachman, of Anonymous Lawyer fame, once had a blog post questioning the need. Or, rather, the need to be any more pretentious than we already were just by being law students. OK, maybe that’s more an issue for students who were at Harvard than for those of us across the river at Boston University… But, really, business cards? For students? Still, networking is networking, and it’s always good to have a convenient way to do it that doesn’t make you look like a shlump.
Especially because you never know who you’re going to need to network with.
Jeremy and I eventually came to form an acquaintance (despite our difference in opinion over the merit of law student business cards), and, knowing of his interest in musical theater, I invited him to join me in seeing Huey Lewis when he first appeared as Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of Chicago. After the show we waited for him outside the stage door with other fans to say hello and pass on our compliments.
There had been some cast changes that evening with several stand-ins, and Huey fretted that the performance might have been too atypical to get a good sense of the production. “I’ll be in town all week,” I offered. “I could come back and see it again.”
“You would?” Huey seemed flattered, and offered to arrange a ticket for me for another day. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Alex Call, songwriter behind “867-5309/Jenny” and a former bandmate and friend of Huey, once wrote that Huey’s the kind of guy who can meet you in a bar at 2 AM and still remember your name three years later. In my experience he’s absolutely right, because I pretty much met Huey in a bar at 2 AM and he still remembers my name. Over the years since we’ve had a few conversations, but always connected with one of his performances. Otherwise we’re not in touch.
So when he offered to call me, my mind started racing. It’s dark, it’s late, it’s crowded and outside… How was I going to manage to give him my phone number without being a complete dork?
Fortunately there was the perfect solution, and let this be a lesson for all you boys and girls out there. As I pointed out to Jeremy at the end of the evening, “THAT’S why you want to get business cards.”
Because you never know when Huey Lewis is going to want to call you.