Monthly Archives: June 2009

20+ "Legal" Peeps @LegalTypist Recommends You Follow On Twitter

I keep seeing all kinds of lists floating around these days.  Lists of lawyers, lists of paralegals, lists of VAs on twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. All recommending those you should take the time out of your life to locate and follow, connect and friend.

Trouble is, it takes a lot of time to do such things and I keep seeing names on those lists that make me shake my head. A list only as good as those who are on it and not one of the lists I have seen published would I recommend to my peeps. Why?

Many of the “legal” lists for twitter appear to have on them a few of those who, by their very own actions (and probably in my sole opinion) are spammers.  So, what do I mean by spam? I mean these recommended peeps publish unsolicited promotions about their own for profit endeavors far more than anything of value to those taking the time to follow their digital doings. In other words, they promote themselves. ALL THE TIME.

Others, while not spammers, don’t publish very often or when they do, they do so in huge bursts clogging their follower’s twitter streams – yuck! (FYI, I’m working on my second Twitter ebook: Twitter Etiquette and you can download my primer – Twitter 101 – How to Set Up An Account On Twitter from http://www.legaltypist.com/twitter.)

Anyway… since I have no lists I’m comfortable RT’ing, I figured let me give it a go and see if I could not find 20 peeps I would recommend to anyone interested in “legal”. FYI, it was much harder and took much longer than I anticipated.

Here’s @legaltypist’s list of 20+ “legal” peeps you should follow on twitter:

  1. @taxgirl – attorney and tax pro; always interesting tweets
  2. @JeenaBelil – really nice attorney who’s on LI with me
  3. @bschorr – not an attorney – smart IT tech/Outlook guy located in Hawaii
  4. @matthomann – attorney who travels the US helping make firms profitable
  5. @StefanieDevery – attorney and all around quality peep
  6. @odonnellsteve– IP attorney who makes me laugh
  7. @econwriter5 – not an attorney but tweets legal and other interesting stuff
  8. @rkodner – ok he’s one who tweets in bursts, but it’s all good!  Lawyer, master tech wrangler
  9. @btannenbaum – Florida based attorney not afraid to call it like it is or have fun with @CorineClaxton or @mariloutheclerk
  10. @aflusche – geeky attorney from a small town in Virginia
  11. @kevinokeefe – attorney who knows how to use/teach social media
  12. @MVPSusi – fellow legal Virtual Assistant
  13. @halosecretarial – fellow Canadian legal VA
  14. @astarita – practicing securities attorney who does social media really well
  15. @charlesthomas PA criminal defense attorney/new solo
  16. @nikiblack – attorney/blogger/great sharer of interesting information
  17. @bren924 – in house law firm IT admin who reminds me why I’m happy I’m virtual
  18. @RossRunkel – law professor and tweeter of interesting legally stuff
  19. @jayshep – employer’s lawyer on a mission to “make lawyers suck less”
  20. @mariloutheclerk – name says it all and every practice needs her (or someone like her).

+ @lilyhill – although her tweets are now silenced, her contribution to twitter and the legal industry through it gives @lilyhill a permanent spot on my list of legal peeps on twitter.

There it is.  Not a spammer or marketer among them! 🙂

5 Benefits of Having an Assistant

When you are in business for yourself, especially one that is conducted online, you’ll find there are a number of different things for you to learn about that can save you time and make you money.  Locating and hiring an assistant, is by far one of the more exciting things to discover and put to use in your business.

All too common is the business owner who feels they have to do everything themselves in order for things to go smoothly. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! In case you’re curious about why so many business owners are singing the praises of outsourcing, keep reading to see just five of the many benefits hiring an assistant can bring you and your business:

More Value for Your Time

When you own a business, one of the most important things to remember is how much your time is really worth. When you think about the dull or repetitive administrative duties that you are doing, you’ll find this work actually detracts you from the higher paying or the revenue generating tasks.

When you delegate to an assistant, you’ll pay someone else to take care of those details, while you give attention to the more important responsibilities of servicing and growing your client base.  Win, win, win… no more boring billing or hanging on the line all afternoon trying to get to technical support for something; more time to invest in networking and getting the word out about yourself and your business; more time to focus on your existing clients, in turn, fostering more business through word of mouth and/or referrals.

Let’s face it – if you can hire someone who is responsive and never seems disorganized vs. someone who is always busy and never has the time to call you back – who would you give more referrals/business to?

Saving Resources

Think about everything that goes into the tasks that you would delegate. This will range from things like your time and space to costs such as Internet and software.  After awhile all of these costs add up.  For instance, graphics software can get quite expensive.

If you are outsourcing an activity, you get more than just the task itself out of the way. You also get someone who specializes in areas of your business that you may not know quite as well or have no desire to learn.  Your assistant will already have the tools, knowledge and software needed to complete such assignments.  Depending on the project, this can not only save you money, but the time to learn how to manipulate complicated software or put a process in place for you to follow.

Going to the Experts

The tasks you are delegating might be ones that you have no desire to learn about, whether they are troubleshooting, appointment setting, website design and maintenance or something else. By handing the work over to an expert who enjoys and makes it their business to know these things, you’ll be able to take advantage of their knowledge in the area without having to learn it yourself. This will give your customers or clients more than you could possibly give them yourself.

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Expand

When you delegate, you will soon realize that you are in a great place when it comes to getting more involved with your business. You will be able to expand and provide everything your clients need. Outsourcing frees you up to try new things with your business, learn more and experience new aspects of your industry.

Accountability

When you delegate, you will have a contract with the person or company you are working with. By having someone else who is depending on work from you, you are more apt to stay ahead of the game by planning better and making sure that you’re tasks are getting completed as well.

When you first begin learning about and implementing outsourcing techniques within your business, you’ll find out those boring or repetitive tasks can easily be handed off to someone who enjoys doing them. This will allow you, as the business’ owner, to free up more time to concentrate on more important aspects of your business such as product creation, advertising, networking and other marketing practices.

These are the things that will help your business to grow even more profitable.

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Visit www.learn2outsource.com to sign up for a FREE 5 day eCourse: Outsourcing 101.

A VA By Any Other Name

This post is being written due to a conversation being conducted over at the IVAA about a certain individual “VA” who seems to be very passionate that she is right about a few items which involve us all.

First, this VA seems to believe that only she has the “correct” definition of a VA and that if you don’t fit within her narrow view, you aren’t a VA.

For instance, according to this individual, as a VA you cannot work with any other VAs or run what is called a multi-VA practice.  You cannot involve any contract workers or have any other persons working for you.  You cannot perform anything but administrative work – no web work, no graphics – just “administrative” work.

Let me take each of those one by one.

1.  You cannot work with any other VAs or run a multi-VA practice.  To some extent I agree.  I’ve always had a problem with the term “multi-VA” although I have never done any research on exactly what and how this is all set up.  To me, the only VA in any relationship is the one with the signed contract from the client, making everyone else a subcontractor of that VA.  In my own practice, I retain other VAs to take care of those items at which I am not proficient – graphics and WordPress set up etc.  This does not make me a “multi-VA” practice, but a really good client for lots of VAs. 😉

2.  If I did not have the assistance of those who are contract typists to my company, I would not have the ability to do anything but work personally for 5-6 attorneys.  After doing that for several years, I decided I wanted out of the day to day grind and started finding the tech (thanks Sharon!) and peeps I needed to have in place to process the work; while I turned my concentration on becoming an expert and the “go to” girl for lawyers and those in legal who wish to know about virtual assistants.

3.  A VA only performs administrative work.  Really? I’m curious exactly what tasks would be considered “administrative” by this individual. When I worked brick and mortar, I could find myself one day working on a layout for a print ad (graphics work); typing up litigation documents the next (secretarial); and reconciling credit card statements the next (bookkeeping).  Aren’t all of these tasks “administrative” in nature?  Not according to this “VA”.

Many years ago I had spoken with this person – after all they work with lawyers too, and I quickly realized that she was not even a very good VA to the clients she had – from her choices in tech to the way she spoke, I could see lots of attorneys having issues.

However, my dear old mom instilled in me that if you don’t have something nice to say, zip it!  So I decided to just divest myself from this person; to not participate in anything she put together and to do my best, when our paths crossed, to differentiate myself from her as much as possible.  In others words, I’d be professional, but not friendly.

This has worked for many years, but here I am in 2009, again seeing this person’s name and their crazy assertions on what a VA is and isn’t and I had to speak out.

In the end, I want to be more than one voice railing against the loud and obnoxious voice of another.  I want to be the VA who stands toe to toe and lets her know it’s not her way or the highway.  Didn’t we all deal with enough of those nasty mentalities when we worked in the “real” world?  Didn’t we have to bite our tongues and take it because we needed the job?

Not anymore!

If you believe as I do –

  • a VA can perform whatever service s/he wishes
  • a VA can work with whomever they want
  • a VA can run a practice involving more than just themselves

then, please leave a comment and let your voice be heard.  I’ve also set up a LinkedIn Group called VA’s Unite! Feel free to join and let the world know that the other 99% of VAs have a voice too!

7 Social Media Tips Courtesy @legaltypist

I recently conducted a teleclass:  Networking the Net. For those who could not make it live, here’s a recap:

  1. There is effort in social media. Pick one or two services/platforms/techs and schedule the time to work them.
  2. Use all tech as intended.  LinkedIn was created for business networking; twitter for little bits of you; Facebook for college students.
  3. Any social media will impact your digital image and credibility. Once you start – keep going; no fits and spurts.
  4. Fill in your profile. Use professional head shot – peeps do biz with those they know, like and trust – let ’em see ya.
  5. If your head shot is showing, it must be you who is publishing.  If an account is for an organization or you delegate the writing to an assistant, use a logo or other non-you avatar/photo.
  6. When signing up for an account, don’t upload your contact list to any social media.  That’s none of their business!  Locate and click on the  “skip this step”.  Your friends will find you.
  7. Give.  Educate. Assist.  Don’t ever sell.  Social media is for connecting not selling.

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Guest Post: How to Deal With Rude E-mailers

Rude and crass e-mail seems to be at an all time high. E-mails blurting out demands or questions without the courtesy of a decent subject field or a thank you to follow. Questions or requests that are demanding a reply without the courtesy of a hello, or a closing that notes their name.

Could it be because manners seem to be at an all time low off-line? Combine this with folks not learning the power of the written word or the skills to communicate clearly to reflect their tone and intent and you have a volatile combination.

There are two assumptions here. The first being that anything goes online. There are no rules, you can do what you want – period – and don’t try to tell anyone differently.

Secondly and a big contributor, is the belief that there is no good reason (even if there actually is one) for anyone to not say what they want when they want (freedom of speech issue) or have what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Consideration for other’s feelings and opinions don’t matter when you can tap out some uninformed crudeness and hit Send.

Folks are quite bold in the anonymity being behind this screen offers them. Some fly off the handle without reading an entire site, article, thread or e-mail, many times picking out parts to create a manifesto of opposition without actually looking at the big picture of the topic at hand. Those who are uninformed with a lack of attention to detail do not hesitate to spew their self important opinions that many times are not based in fact or reality. Misunderstandings occur, business is lost, feelings get hurt. All because onliners do not take the time to communicate carefully with the written word by integrating courtesy and clarity.

What do you do when you are the recipient of an e-mail with an accusatory or rude tone? Well, I used to be a firm believer, that you should respond to every e-mail someone takes the time to send you – that is everything but spam. However, as of late, I have even found myself at a loss for words when reading some of the e-mail that has come my way. Folks who don’t know me using verbiage that makes my cheeks flush!

Unfortunately, I think all of us will have to deal with these “personalities” at one time or another and probably more so that any of us prefer. Below are some thoughts to help you determine if and how to deal with rude or nasty e-mail:

=> If you receive an e-mail with foul language or threats, know that this is against the TOS (Terms of Service) of all ISPs. Immediately send the e-mail to abuse@ at their ISP. Keep the e-mail on file in case you need to refer to it or provide additional copies down the road.

=> When you receive an e-mail that is blatantly rude or obnoxious and is not based in fact, think about if there is any constructive reason to have to respond. If the tone is so bad that you feel your blood pressure rise, wait until the next morning at the very least to even think about if you need to respond at all. Your ego is not large enough (I hope) to have the need to defend yourself when faced with incorrect accusations or personal digs, especially from folks who don’t know you. Don’t lower yourself to their level by responding to this type of e-mail in kind. You are better than that!

=> If someone e-mails you because they are misinformed, did not take the time to read the information on your site or a post somewhere online or possibly could have made an honest mistake, “kill” them with kindness and give them the benefit of the doubt. Most truly do not know how they are perceived by virtue of their lack of e-mail skills, nor do they expect you to take them at their word. All too often you’ll hear “I didn’t mean it that way….” Well, I have a saying around here, if you type it, you’d better mean it.

=> Folks who e-mail in this manner simply do not realize the power of their words and the tone they are setting. And, unfortunately, some simply don’t care. Point out in a courteous manner the information to correct the issue or point them to the area on your site or elsewhere that has the info they seek without personalizing the issue. Thank them for contacting you, sign off in a professional manner and hold your head high knowing you just provided a level of courtesy that is quite rare online. You may even be surprised when that very same Netizen sends you a thank you e-mail! That being said, with some folks there is nothing you can do to sway them. You can be correct, courteous and clear and it won’t matter – they simply will not admit to being rude, misinformed or plain old wrong. Don’t take it personally, feel sorry for anyone with a mind that closed and move on.

Because you have a Web site, are visible in online forums, or are available via e-mail in no way means that you have the responsibility to respond to those who do not communicate with you in a respectful courteous manner. And, most likely those who do not communicate with courtesy and knowledge are folks none of us would care to form a relationship with or do business with anyway. So, don’t let worrying about loosing that online “friend” or business “lead” have you lower your standards in regard to how you want to be treated.

I receive on average over 600 e-mails each day. Most are positive and many are simply wonderful written by great people across the globe who have been to one of my sites and are asking my assistance or advice. However, for those increasing number of folks who think they can just e-mail and make accusations, demands or requests without a hint of courtesy or consideration, well, they won’t be hearing from me – DELETE!

***Andrea’s Comments***

My observations after a very trying week dealing with one such individual and their incorrect assumptions and just plain wrong recollection of events has me exhausted.  It takes a lot of work to stay on top exactly what happened and when, especially when working in tandem with others over the internet.

What I really want to highlight is that e-mail is a one way dialogue you have with yourself and you can truly convince yourself of anything, especially in emotionally charged situations.  If you find you are confused or angered or upset by a colleague’s e-mail – PICK UP THE PHONE!  Never hide behind e-mail and, certainly, never terminate a business or personal relationship using e-mail.

*** End Andrea Comments***

Article Thanks to:

Judith Kallos is an authoritative and good-humored Technology Muse who has played @ http://www.TheIStudio.com for over a decade. Check out her popular E-mail Etiquette site @: http://www.NetManners.com