JEllis

Top 8 Things You Can Do to Get Yourself in Trouble with Technology

On March 10, 2015, The TASA Group in conjunction with legal ethics expert Jennifer Ellis and technology consultant Daniel Siegel, presented a free, one-hour interactive webinar presentation for all legal professionals.

Ms. Ellis and Mr. Siegel discussed the steps that should be taken to ensure security while using Wi-Fi, email and the cloud. They also covered: • Confidentiality • Routers and firewalls • Technology risks while traveling • Choosing cloud service providers • Data security while using smart phones and tablets.

askandrea1

 

#LTNY 2015 – What A Trip!

Collage

New York Hilton; LTNY 2015 Expo Hall Entrance, Sponsor/Techs and hallway; The Legal Connection #LTNY15 Lunch Daniel Gershburg & Andrea; Andrea & Christy Burke; Andrea & Ben Schorr & Lisa Solomon

As a professional who has worked virtually for over a decade, when the opportunity to meet with people in real life presents itself – I grab on with both hands!  I am definitely what you would call a “people” person. I like nothing more than to sit down, in a relatively quiet space (with a beverage) and really get to know the attorneys, law firm IT guys (and gals), the administrators and all those IN the trenches getting the day to day work of law firms out the door.

I also attend trade shows like LNTY and ABA TechShow to meet with those who offer services and technology they say helps attorneys, law firm IT peeps and the firm – to literally confirm that they are not clueless when it comes to the basics of having access to attorney-client work product. Believe you me, there are a ton of them out there who think of legal as nothing other than a different ”vertical” and are certain attorneys are clueless and have deep pockets.

Finally, I also like to check out the swag – having produced a report on the funky and fun stuff going on so those who follow me get a good taste of the show I am at. Some of my past LTNY escapades are captured herehere, here, and all the tweets from 2013 here. I was not able to attend 2014 because of the weather and almost didn’t make it this year either!

That said, LTNY 2015 was quite a trip!

For many years I have arranged a lunch and Expo Tour and this year was no different.  The choice of restaurant was new – Virgil’s BBQ  <– cuz who doesn’t LOVE good BBQ right in the heart of Times Square?! The lunch was delish and certainly not overpriced plus the atmosphere was perfect for our large gathering, which included, another non attorney: David Roden, and NYC area attorneys: Laura Mann, Andrew Barovick, Justin Meyer, Trippe Fried, Karel Karpe and Daniel Gershburg. After feasting on BBQ – we walked the 10 blocks to the Hilton en masse and through the crowd of Elmos in Times Square and got ready to tour the Expo Hall.

Although my swag gathering efforts were hampered this year due to an unforeseen “business opportunity” and apologies again to my cohorts in swagging: Laura Mann, Justin Meyer, Trippe Fried and Karel Karpe for my not hanging with you and having more fun, I was still able to gather some of the best swag being offered, including:  2015Swag

@Payne_Group multi dongle connector; a really nice pen by BoardVantage; rubber gavel stress reliever by Legal Workspace; and a teeny tiny speaker with tremendous volume and sound by iDiscovery Solutions. Missing from the pix is the Perfect Law lion stuffed animal -which I gave to @Justin_meyer to give to his baby boy and the daegis duck which I received via Fed Ex after the pix was taken <-Thanks James!!!!

Wrapping it all up, it is always a lot of fun running into New York City and meeting up with people I normally only interact with online (Hi Bob!); and I truly spent most of the day enjoying myself and the entire LTNY experience in 2015.

For those who care to join me next year – LTNY is back in the cold bleak winter of 2016 – mark your calendars now February 2-4, 2016 at the Hilton. The Legal Connection sponsored LTNY Lunch AND Expo Tour will be on Wednesday, February 3rd and I’ll post a link for registration as the year draws to a close.

 

BMC

The Rural Lawyer – A Techie Valentine To Me

February has announced itself with cold winds, wet snow and an absolute disregard to January’s rather mild precedent. Which hurries my steps along when I venture out of the little law office on the prairie and away from my Keurig – a wondrous fount of coffee, tea, and other warm delights; given the time of year, perhaps the most vital piece of technology I currently own. But I come not to sing the praises of the various bits of tech that keep me and the LLOotP working like a reasonable oiled machine or to wax poetic over my found infatuation with open source document management and private cloud software. No this time the love goes out to the work life balance. Work life balance is a bit of a myth out here in the little law office on the prairie for both work and life tend to blend one into the other for better or worse. But somewhere in this mélange, there are those times when me needs to take precedence. So, on the odd occasion I find it necessary to kickback at take some time to slow down in order to speed up. Now I’m not one for taking a spa day or heading out to buy shoes – farm equipment is an entirely different thing; I’ve been known to take a day, drive 300 miles just to look at a mower (now when I talk mower, I’m talking 100 horsepower and 14 feet of cutting width). I prefer to take my me time and learn about something entirely unnecessary. To that end, I fly planes and grow orchids. But if I really want to earn a few points, I’ll tackle something on the honey-do list (yet another use for Evernote). For those of you who’d like to play along and fit a little more life into your work there is a perfect opportunity heading your way. On February 14th, turn your tech off, let your social media go quiet, tell your staff you won’t be in the office, and spend the day getting to know yourself and your family again – remember a sitter and dinner out may earn you bonus points. And now for something completely off-topic – have you ever wondered how to check if your marketing efforts are working as hard as they can? Then Stacy Clark’s article Are your law firm’s Marketing Efforts Being Sabotaged? is for you. She provides a 10 question test to help you identify some of the common weaknesses in your marketing strategy, things like: -               Is your staff involved in your marketing efforts? -               Are you staying in touch with previous clients? -               Are you keeping your website up to date? -               What’s your value-add? It’s worth the time to google the article and to take the entire test. As solos, it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air and this may help you focus on your efforts as you start those 2015 marketing efforts. Speaking of updating your website, 2015 should be the year that you implement that responsive design website and stop losing those mobile eyeballs. While you’re at it, take the time to develop high quality content; once you get those new eyeballs, the very least you can do is give them something to read and you can stop worrying about keeping your content above the fold; mobile users are used to scrolling down. So as long as your content is compelling you are good to go long. By the way, the stodgy old law firm website has outlived its usefulness; try experimenting with typography. Google Fonts can give your website some visual impact without breaking the bank, Bruce M. Cameron Having decided that going to law school and opening a solo law practice would be a sufficient response to the male midlife crisis, Bruce now practices Collaborative Family Law and Estate Planning in rural Minnesota. When not in the law office, he can be found on his small farm where he and his wife are at the beck and call of a herd of horses, a couple of cats, a few dogs and one extremely spoiled parrot. http://www.rurallawyer.com

Jeff Lantz

Love and Website Security – WordFence and RSJoomla!

It’s February, love is in the air, and I’m a sucker for …. website security.

We all know that we need to use secure passwords for website administration login. Additionally, minimizing plugins (for WordPress) and extensions (for Joomla) should also be done, as each plugin or extension can serve as a pathway to core file manipulation. As a result, plugin and extension addition should be done very carefully.

There are, however, two great security applications that I would strongly suggest implementing – Wordfence (www.wordfence.com) if your site is on WordPress, and RSFirewall from RSJoomla! ( https://www.rsjoomla.com/joomla-extensions/joomla-security.html) if your site is on Joomla.

Why I Love WordFence and RS Firewall

Key features of Wordfence and RSFirewal! include:

Country blocking (done by IP address – my favorite) – Unless your firm has specifically-targeted traffic outside the US, consider blocking all non-US traffic (Hint: – those visits from Russia shown in your Google Analytics account probably aren’t from prospective clients).

  • With country blocking enabled, those trying to access your website (or your CMS) from blocked countries will essentially see a blank page informing them that the desired page cannot be accessed.  While IP blocking is not perfect, it can make it significantly harder for those outside the US to break into your site.
  • Malware detection – both of these applications have different protocols for scanning and detecting known malware.
  • Core file change detection – if the core files of your website have been changed, you’ll want to know about such change immediately.  RSFirewall!, for instance, sends e-mail notifications to website owners immediately when core files and other significant changes are made.
  • IP blocking in response to brute force attacks and attacks designed to shut down a website by overwhelming a server – these applications recognize “brute force” attempts to run scripts to hack into a website (brute force attacks consist of trying different usernames and passwords until the right ones are identified).
  • Additional firewall protection – both applications contain additional features and options to better “lock down” your site to prevent core file manipulation.  For instance, in addition to a username and password, access to a website’s CMS can also be restricted so that only whitelisted IP addresses can gain CMS access.

Cost

This Valentine’s Day show your website how much you care by helping to protect it and keep it more secure. The current, undiscounted cost of Wordfence is $39/year, and the current, undiscounted cost of RSJoomla! is $56/year. These costs are minimal in comparison to potential disruption and development costs resulting when a site is hacked (while there can be no guaranty that a site will not be hacked, each of these applications will make it harder to do so).

Both sites offer discounts for multiple sites, and discounts are also usually available for multiple year purchases. Before ordering, do a search for coupon codes, as you may be able to purchase an application for even less than the listed price.

We do not have any affiliation or financial connection to Wordfence or RSJoomla; our recommendations are based solely on using these applications for our sites and those of our clients.

Jeffrey Lantz, Esq. is an attorney in Arizona and CEO of Esquire Interactive, a company that helps law firms develop new business through branding, websites and strategic business development. To learn more about Jeffrey, visit: http://www.esquireinteractive.com

 

 

 

David A. Moore

Taking Back Control Over Your Day: 7 Steps to Laser-like Focus

Where are we going wrong?

At the end of day do you sometimes realize it’s 5 o’clock (or 6 or 7?) and you ask yourself, “What happened”?

You’ve been busy all day long doing exactly what needed to be done…answering emails, returning phone calls, going to meetings, reading, writing…yet the you never completed any of the items on your “To-Do” list. Your desk just got messier and the list just got longer.

No matter how hard you work, it seems there is really no end in sight. So how do you take back control of your day?

For me, personally, I try to do too much. I always over estimate how much I can do and how long it will take. My plan is to “knock out this task real quick” and then get back to my daily plan. NEVER HAPPENS. I don’t take my own advice about clearing the workspace, brain dump and time blocking. It’s makes the difference between being busy and being productive.

Dealing with daily chaos is normal.  We all have five or six issues that pop up and we get caught up dealing with them. This could be our own doing or forced upon us by others. In the David Allen – GTD lingo, it means fighting off the URGENT to get to the IMPORTANT.

If you feel overwhelmed or the wheels come off during the day, it’s time to STOP and make a plan. Follow the steps below to take back control and get that laser-focus you need:

1) Brain dump:  Start with a list of everything you want to get done. Get it all out there – start with big ones, then all the small ones. Make a list of your priorities that keep getting pushed back. By taking the time to brain dump, you will find your stress level decrease. Even when the list is overwhelming, you can get a sense of peace once it is written out.

2) Prioritize quickly: You should clearly see some priorities in your list. Focus on the IMPORTANT, not the URGENT. Use the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule. Find the clients, items, projects which deliver the most impact. Devote 80% of your time to these areas.

3) Break it down:  If an item on your list looks more like a project, you should break it down into tasks or activities you need to do. Sometimes, we don’t know where to start, so we don’t do anything. As you get the mini-tasks completed, you will start to feel energized!

4) Pick 3: Your list might be pretty long at this point. That’s OK. Keep it simple. Just pick the three items that you would LOVE to get done. Imagine it was 5 o’clock and you didn’t get anything done today BUT those three tasks. Not a bad days work right? 

5) Set a timer: Now attack one of the three priority items. Use principles of time blocking and Pomodoro. Literally block off chunks of time to devote to the task. The hope is that this will be uninterrupted time. With Pomodoro you work in increments of 25 minutes of laser-like focus and then take a five-minute break. It takes discipline but don’t make excuses. Make it happen.

6) Be anti-social: Let others know you will be unavailable. And unless the building is burning down, you are not to be interrupted for the next 30 minutes, hour, etc. Now the hard part: avoid checking email, answering the phone or texting. No social media, internet browsing or TV. Close your browser if possible, shut off email notifications, silence your phone.

7) Schedule email time: If you’ve never done this, it sounds crazy. But this can make a huge difference in your daily outcomes. When do you normally check email for the first time? If you are like most people, it’s one of the first things you do each day. I promise you that if you will delay checking until 10 o’clock it will change your life. Ultimately, the goal would be to check email only 2-3 times per day with the first being 10 o’clock in the morning and then again late in the afternoon. Try it for one week and you’ll be amazed.

The rest is up to you.

We all have a zillion things we could be doing. And many things we should be doing. But forget about the things you COULD do and pick the items that will have the greatest impact. The rest of it can wait. If you do this on a daily basis, it will absolutely transform you results and mindset.

David Moore is the owner of APG:Legal, a division of Advantage Print Group, a full-service print and marketing services provider to solo, small and mid-sized legal firms. To learn more about David, visit: http://www.apglegalprint.com/

 

Andy Peterson

Who Do You Love?

When contemplating February’s theme, the George Thorogood song, “Who Do You Love”, continued to run through my mind.  Researching the lyrics, I realized the words themselves are more akin to a vagabond, yet still the chorus continues to echo in my mind.

Over the past several years, I have been introduced to the concept of finding our Why.  Several sources from Simon Sinek to a recent webinar by Bill Prater, bring new light to our deeper purpose and drive.  Each contends that we have a Why hardwired into each of us that begins at birth.  As we progress through life we have different personal experiences, both positive and negative, which revolve around our personal why.      

 

I recently had a discussion with a practice management consultant who reflected on the Why of many attorneys choosing their career path.  The 2 primary reasons provided were: 

  1. Desire to build wealth
  2. Desire to help others

As obvious as the desire to build wealth might appear, the most commonly mentioned reason was a desire to help others.  Somehow in the rush of life we forget why we began or why we love to do what we do.  If we don’t intentionally focus back to our why, who we love is lost in the noise.  I don’t acknowledge this without my own daily challenges either, and win some days better than others.

If we want to organize our thoughts and focus further, we need to keep track.  Who has never heard the saying, “You can manage what you don’t measure?”  Much like any sporting event, we only realize who is winning of losing based on a score.  The excitement comes from accounting for who is scoring, leading, excelling, etc.  Do we keep score for ourselves?  How would we do that if we wanted?

Revisiting the 2 primary reasons an attorney began their career, those with financial aspirations would need to keep score with a ledger, or some sort of net worth calculation.  A myriad of sources abound for doing this personally or professionally.  However, if we are focused on helping, what is the mechanism to keep score of those?  Do we track those that we help?  Do we resolve to a financial scorecard at the end of the year reflecting on the donations we mark as chartable in this season of filing taxes? Are these the Pro-bono cases or charitable organizations needing your professional support?  Perhaps some of these are true, however, I would suggest that we need to personally recognize those we have helped, including those smaller tasks that might seem just chivalrous or mundane to some.  From opening doors, offering a jacket to someone cold, to helping someone dig out from getting stuck in the snow that has recently inundated much of the US.  These items are not done for some write off or deduction, nor something that is paid for by others.  This is something that we are hardwired to do and to serve our fellow citizens and personal Why and at the same time.

Pamela J. Starr StarrParalegals

No, I’m Not Really Feeling the Love

It started out as a normal day at work – check 7 email accounts (don’t ask!); respond to email; make calls; post to LinkedIn; catch up (briefly) with Facebook and Twitter; drift back to Solosez; whittle down my to do list; wrap up my final project for school; lather, rinse, repeat. Work. Work. Work.

At some point during the day, I decided to Google my marketing content. I honestly don’t remember what triggered it – there must have been a comment about plagiarism in an email or a discussion – but there I was, searching the Interwebs for content from my business website.

Seek and ye shall find, they say … Oh, I found.

There were three para-professionals using MY marketing content to sell their services! One identified as a paralegal; another as a paralegal assistant (I still don’t know what that means); and the last, a virtual bankruptcy assistant (Not to be confused with virtual bankruptcy paralegal. I am a certified/certificated paralegal – emphasis on paralegal – with a lot of years of experience and training; she took a petition preparation training program).

Before you ask, 1) yes, there are copyright notices on all my websites, 2) my websites are supposed to be protected by Copyscape.

Instinctively, I posted to Facebook. I needed the love and support of my extended, virtual family. Once the warm fuzzies and go get ‘ems hit the spot, I dug in. (Well, I might have blogged first . . .) I reviewed their respective websites, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn profiles. I made copious notes.

The more I saw, the less love I felt. In fact, I felt a little sick.

These ‘professionals’, who are meant to be held to the same rules and canons of ethics and professional responsibility as I am, had outright plagiarized my content! The paralegal even had the chutzpah to include this on her website: “…adheres to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas. Fundamental to our success is the integrity of our paralegals and our high standard of professional conduct.”

One of them had copied my entire mission statement, verbatim!

Oh Copyscape, why hast thou forsaken me?

Okay, fine. Some of the scraped content was on private sites. Copyscape can’t ‘read’ LinkedIn. Worse yet – the paralegal assistant had reduced practically my entire welcome page to a pdf brochure! Try Googling unreadable content. Go ahead. I dare you.

It broke my paralegal heart to see this travesty.

My friends tried to reassure me. With virtual pats on the back, they suggested these others were jealous of my success or, my favorite, ‘imitation is the greatest form of flattery’. Imitation – maybe – not copy/paste, change the company name /area of law, and move the sentences around.

This betrayal could not stand. I love what I do and I have integrity. I was a ticked off redheaded child of the GSOT.

I sent each of the copycats an informal takedown notice by email. The paralegal and the VBA responded in righteous indignation. ‘Uh uh! We didn’t do anything wrong.’ The paralegal flipped it to make it sound as if my language came after hers and that there was “nothing particularly distinctive” about it. Hmm, my company has been around since 2008; hers since 2012. In a search of the specific phrases, the first 2+ pages of results are linked to my company.

Oh, honey, no.

Oh, the 3rd offender? Ms. ‘I’ll make a pdf and she’ll never know I’m using her content’. She never responded to my request. After 7 days, I filed DMCA complaints with Facebook, LinkedIn – POOF! FB page/my content, gone! (Her website had already been frozen when I found her.) I waited another 2 weeks – by then I’d discovered three more miscreants – her profile was still on Elance, Merchant Circle, and Thumbtack – I sent her a Cease and Desist with specific demands, including confirmation of the destruction of all printed and digital copies of the brochure. <crickets> DMCA came riding in on its white stallion to take down those profiles too.

Copyscape, we need to talk.

Pamela J. Starr, CBA, J.S.M., Virtual Paralegal Extraordinaire and tenacious redhead from the GSOT. As the lead paralegal and owner of StarrParalegals, LLC, Pamela also blogs as her alter ego, ‘Pamela the Paralegal‘ http://www.starrparalegals.com

Trippe Fried

Race To the Bottom by Trippe Fried

I would like to ring in the New Year by alerting you to a brewing race to the bottom on NBC. It features two unwitting contestants, Jenna Bush-Hager and Rosie O’Donnell. The operative double-entendre here is “unwitting”.

Jenna Bush-Hager is a correspondent on The Today Show, a program featuring six people who can barely stand each other acting like BFF’s. The Today Show stars the mature and knowledgeable Matt Lauer and a gaggle of nitwits, most prominently Al “I Just Don’t Care Anymore” Roker who delivers the world’s least informative weather report while taking pot shots at the tourists who flock to Rockefeller Center each morning hoping desperately for a few precious second of unearned air time.

Mrs. Bush-Hager is the daughter of former president George W. Bush – a man whose greatest life accomplishment is a portrait of his own feet. George W. made a lot of enemies while in office but he shares his greatest foe, the English language, with Jenna, who comes across as someone who considers herself a “veterinarian” because she doesn’t eat meat. Her chief assignment on The Today Show is interviewing members of her own family; there is something both morose and pathetic listening to a would-be newscaster interview two former U.S. presidents about former First Lady Barbara Bush, a woman to whom she refers on air as “Gammy”. Jenna’s recent expose into George W.’s painting was embarrassing on many fronts, not the least of which was the uncomfortable fact that both father and daughter were completely oblivious to the fact that the segment wasn’t fit for anything more intellectually developed than Sesame Street. This may explain why Lauer speaks to Bush-Hager much like a proud parent praises a child who just read its first book without any help.

Rosie O’Donnell is on The View, a daily bromide-fest in which four women try to discuss current events while giving second-rate actors like Jason Biggs a forum in which to prove that they truly are complete asses. Rosie’s cohosts include the always astute and balanced Whoopi Goldberg, Blond Republican Chick (name unimportant though she is also knowledgeable), and actress Rosie Perez. Noise, not knowledge, is O’Donnell’s stock in trade. During the Ferguson protests she evinced either an uncanny gift for hyperbole or a stunning ignorance of environmental nomenclature by referring to “black boys” as an “endangered species”. On a different episode Rosie opined that the United States should deal with the threat of international terrorism by adopting Gandhi’s policy of non-violent protest (not that she put it so eloquently). It’s difficult to explain the difference between imperial subjugation at the hands of the British (who wanted to beat the Indians into submission) and the genocidal ambitions of jihadists (who want to kill Americans) to someone who vehemently insists that she is never wrong. Even if Rosie understood that for Gandhi non-violent protest was a means to an end and for some reason still believed that Americans should allow themselves to be killed to forward a greater national interest, it is difficult to see Rosie shutting up for long enough to hear that there is a flaw in her logic.

As anyone who has suffered through five consecutive minutes of programming on The Learning Channel will attest, there is no shortage of morons on television. What makes the presence of Jenna Bush-Hager and Rosie O’Donnell worrisome is that both are considered “newscasters” by the NBC network. News by definition informs, and even in a wired world where broadcasts are agenda-driven we still want to have some confidence in the qualifications of commentators. Paul Krugman is an unabashedly liberal Democrat but he is credentialed as a Nobel Prize winning economist. Conservative commentators like former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele bring real knowledge of and experience in the halls of power. Bush-Hager and O’Donnell offer neither. One brings a surname, the other even less (O’Donnell’s feud with Donald Trump notwithstanding).

The networks long ago ceded the role of primary source for television news to the likes of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC and there is a reason that excerpts from Walter Cronkite newscasts seem ancient. But some semblance of competence and knowledge is still important. In this race to the bottom, we all lose.

Andy Peterson

New Appreciation by Andy Peterson

As we have just rung in a new year in 2015, many will face new years with a ton of resolutions and look to make a significant change.  The simple fact is that many will start and few will ever complete whatever goal they may have hoped to achieve.

Focusing on something “new” for this article, I am taking a slightly different perspective.  What if everything we ever needed or wanted was around us and we were just too busy to recognize it?  I have found myself realizing that if I pause for a moment to look around, I have a wealth of abundance around me daily.  While I don’t share the following to brag, I do realize that I have been immensely blessed with an amazing wife who, to date, has endured all of my strengths and weakness for the past 17 years.  I may tell her that it feels like 25 years, but honestly can’t believe where the time has gone.  I am also very blessed to have 2 healthy and incredibly talented children who have their own unique strengths.  I don’t always understand each of their particular nuances, but still appreciate them and love them beyond comprehension.  As much as I have begun to realize this, I haven’t always shared this with them or helped them learn to appreciate all that they have had around them.

Hal Elrod’s book “The Miracle Morning”, reminds us to start each morning with this perspective, and is a fundamental key to his acronym that he uses as the Life S.A.V.E.R.S.  Hal encourages everyone to embrace the Affirmations, or reflect on all of the blessings we have in our life. This could easily become an ego trip for some, but that is not the point.  Many of us don’t take even just a moment to recognize all that we have, and with this provides each of us with a boost of daily energy to keep a sane perspective.

Recently I was listening to a Jay Abraham series, where he was reflecting on what putting things in perspective means using a piece of fine art.   He had purchased several custom paintings that were captivating yet were unable to transform a room without the proper lighting.  The realization is that no matter how good something is, unless you see it, it doesn’t have full potential value.

I wonder if we all don’t have similar experiences that we have each encountered in our daily lives?  We can see all that others may have but also note that they don’t recognize them.  We commonly refer to this as the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  We can see and envy what others have, but fail to appreciate the fine things that we have around us every day.

I am still working on refining my own perspective, but why not try a new perspective this year?  I believe each of us are blessed each and every day, but simply fail to recognize or appreciate them.  Best wishes in 2015 to you, and to everyone you are blessed to encounter each day of the year!

Andy Peterson:  After chasing a childhood dream as a professional pilot, Andy stepped away from aviation to honor a commitment to his family.   He is currently the Director of Business Development for Kahuna Business Solutions.  When not working, Andy enjoys racquetball, providing part time flight instruction, introducing aviation to youth, and spending time with his wife and 2 sons.

Cynthia Sharp

January = New by Cynthia Sharp

In preparation for 2015, I analyzed where most of my business had come from over the past three years and found that most had come from people with whom I have personal relationships. Simply put, my businesses have always grown when I networked in person and picked up the phone.  This ratifies the words shared by Jeffrey Gitomer: “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.  All things being not quite so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”

While I embrace the New Wild Digital World along with its significant benefits and encourage attorneys to do the same, I also like to take a step back and get back to the basics – to those activities that make the biggest difference in my bottom line.

In a world of “high tech/low touch”, strategic in person networking remains the most powerful way to create and deepen relationships. Here are a few tips to successful networking at an event or conference.  Note how the integration of NEW world technology and social media can amplify potential results:

(1) Research the background of any speaker or other attendees (if you have that information).  I normally connect through social media prior to the event which warms the atmosphere for an in person introduction.

(2) Instead of hanging out with others from your office or social group, be sure to mingle.  The purpose is to establish new business relationships.

(3) Engage fully while conversing.  Glancing around the room, at your watch or cell phone sends an unattractive message to your conversation partner.  Many professionals (and other adults) have unfortunately not mastered basic social skills. Make sure you’re not one of them.

(4) The most important and neglected part is The Follow Up. Immediately after a networking event or conference (usually before leaving the premises), I take a snapshot of the business cards given to me. Using Evernote, the image is sent to my assistant along with instructions to add contact information to our marketing database as well as the appropriate follow up action (i.e., send a letter, schedule a lunch date or other specific action).