Brand – New You

Guest post:

Newsflash!!! You are a brand. Will you be “…a generic or luxury brand?”

Web 2.0 challenges professionals to address our personal brands and define our social tendencies to increasingly broader audience. It seems the whole business world has gone social: Social CRM, Social Sales, Social CEOs, etc… If Mark Zuckerman gets his way, you’ll continue to struggle with the one face to show the world dilemma and if Google gets its way, you’ll have the option of a social network that mirrors your offline word. But the real power of a personal brand, is not which platform you use, it is the strength of having your character and actions in alignment with the image that you project. Brand management boils down to managing expectations.

In a 24/7 world, privacy doesn’t work. Who hasn’t been outed in the form of an awkward school photo, concealed political affiliation, or other equally embarrassing you weren’t supposed to know that about me moment? Things we used to be able to keep distinctly compartmentalized are now slowly creeping into our social conversations. Personal and professional personas are blending in the inbox, the computer, and across a growing number of social networking platforms. I believe it is because the world increasingly demands no boundaries on our time, geography, accessibility, and of course now our privacy. So why not turn the tables on privacy and own your brand? Embrace the awkward photos and admit that your hair do (or don’t) was a phase. Use your political affiliations to engage in meaningful discussions. Hey, at least you’re up on the world of politics (just be careful not to be too polarizing…unless of course that’s the brand you want to project). The best defensive is a good offense, right? So if you feel like the walls will come crashing down on you if you engage in Twitter Facebook or Linkedin start by answering the 8Ps of Online Social Networking. In doing so, you will begin to discover your authentic self. In the words of William Shakespeare “to thine own self be true.”

Do you know yourself? Do you know what few words others would use to describe you? Is there an expectation gap? Since I was a child, I’ve been an overcommitted Joiner. In 2008, I attended an LMA-LA networking event. During a session moderated by Jonathan Fitzgarrald I learned that my peers found me to be “Networked,” “Youthful,” and “Intense”. Though I could have drawn negative or positive conclusions from the insights, I was relieved to know that the these descriptors were not far from the personal brand I had been striving to create “Connected,” “Enthusiastic,” and “Smart”. A year later, I was asked to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder and my top five themes of talent ranked in the order revealed by my responses to the questions were: Input, Woo, LearnerIdeation, and Command.

Just today, while reading an article, I learned a phrase I use on marketing collateral “connecting the dots that lead to profitability” is more commonly referred to as searchlight intelligence. Over time, I have realized that it is less important that my brand be thought of as good or bad by others but rather consistently authentic. Finding and using one’s authentic social voice is a great way to differentiate your brand from others and will minimize the expectation gap.

Don’t be afraid to differentiate yourself from others, own your personal brand, and broadcast it further with social media. Sure our employers and clients are nervous over social network monitoring issues but if you build a trusted and authentic brand on & off line that strengthens the brand of the companies that write your checks, wouldn’t you be doing both yourself and your employer a huge favor? By harnessing your personal brand, not only will you leave a strong digital footprint but it’s the best investment you can make in yourself.

Cheers, to a Brand – New You!


What Dr. Seuss Can Teach Us About Social Media


In honor of Dr. Seuss‘ birthday, I’m recycling a commentary I made on a legal listserv where LinkedInTwitter were being heavily debated. This was originally penned 10/28/08 and aimed toward Legal Marketing Professionals.

If we can all agree that law is a relationship driven business then social media/networking tools can assist or hurt us with regard to developing or nurturing relationships. Remember it’s only one tool out of many & a hammer is not needed for every situation.If used correctly, there are numerous opportunities online to have a deep dive conversation – get to know the person’s business, current needs, & future risks. When someone is in pain, there are opportunities to help them find a solution & be of value. Online this process is accelerated because people are so candid.When one is contributing positively to the online conversation i.e. Q&As, forums, and/or blogs, then there is also a chance to improve your know, like, & trust stock. If one is ego or celebrity driven & clearly projecting that it’s ALL about them or doing ALL the talking (in many cases shouting), then one’s know, like, & trust stock will take the hit. Ideally, professionals should avoid random acts of marketing. So sit down & define what success looks like with the attorneys:
· Reconnect with X # of colleagues for the year
· Conduct competitive intelligence on X # of potential clients in advance of annual networking events
· Facilitate X # of introductions with your network quarterly
· Grow network by X # of new contacts a month
· Create/Reply to X # of provocative discussions a week to unearth hidden pain/potential opportunities
· Listen to X # of blogs or discussion boards dailyThen use a business plan to prioritize which potential & existing relationships are ready for client meetings, events, newsletters, blogs, etc…Evaluate your progress – Am I more known, more liked, more trusted? If not, perhaps it’s not the hammer’s fault perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the brand & positioning. Are you in the right places? Are you revealing too much or too little? Are your character & competency strong or weak? Like it or not, conversations are taking place through this new medium. If you can not improve the silence then listen because there is a ton of information being shared.Thanks to Twitter, I learned that Forrester recently reported that 75% of online adults now use social tools to connect vs. 56% in 2007. The momentum is building! Web 2.0 for professionals is started to remind me of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham. Just substitute Social Networking & Blogging for Green Eggs & Ham, eat for consume and Attorneys for Sam. Do you remember how that story ended???Ultimately, if you’re still not impressed with the cyber world then by all means Log Off & Meet Up with your attorneys, clients, & friends. I still encourage everyone to do this because there are conversations to be had anywhere. “…In the rain. And in the dark. And on a train. And in the car…”

Interview: Post Gravity Summit Panel at UCLA

Interviewed here:

The Toughest Negotiation – Time to Build Your Practice

Guest post:

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Angelica Houston’s character in Ever After. As the wicked stepmother, she declares to her favorite daughter

“Darling, nothing is final until you’re dead, and even then, I’m sure God negotiates.”

Although I cannot speak to the question whether God negotiates, I have found the first part of the formulation to hold quite true. I have learned that if I am persistent, passionate, and willing to see my challenges and opportunities from a variety of angles, I am usually able to find a creative solution to a problem and identify common ground with someone with whom I have a dispute.

Whether it’s getting a customer service agent to empathize with my situation, haggling to pay wholesale instead of retail, or building consensus amongst a range of strong personalities, there is always a way to state your case and persuade your audience to see the world through your eyes.

There is one challenge that I have discovered to be most daunting for professionals to negotiate — the management of their time. 

Time is our most precious nonrenewable resource and as such, we put a premium on it. We attempt to prioritize and guarantee a return on our investment. Often we are left feeling that an activity was either not worth our time or took so much time that we were unable to sustain the task’s momentum.

Between work and life, we struggle to find balance and sanity.

My work with attorneys — helping them to build their practices; assisting them in overcoming their own internalized judgments about marketing and business development — requires me to help them re-negotiate the way in which they allocate their time.

I empathize.  It is a daunting task to find a comfortable balance between one’s professional and personal lives when you are forced to measure it out in six minute increments.  Despite many attempts to eliminate or modify the present system by which we value legal word — the billable hour remains the entrenched and painful lens through which a lawyer’s daily practice is viewed. Given this historic approach, it’s no wonder than that Web 2.0 activities (blogging, online social networking, & wikis) are met with such resistance.

While it is true that there is no one size fits all solution for growing a legal practice, there is one excellent way to refocus the discussion.

I’ve never worked with an attorney who didn’t agree that the practice of law is a relationship-driven business. Relationships take time to develop and require nurturing, both of which can be streamlined with Web 2.0 tools. If used correctly, there are numerous opportunities online to have a “deep dive” conversation – one in which attorneys can quickly learn a potential client’s business, current needs, and future risks.

When someone is in pain, there are opportunities to help them find a solution and be of value. Relationships that would take years to develop offline can accelerate faster online because — for better or worse — the internet encourages candor.

If you are struggling with how to do more with less in these tough economic times then reconsider making a small investment of your time in the mostly free Web 2.0 resources.

The sense of community, collaboration and reciprocity that exists in online social networks can quickly translate into marketing opportunities that are speedily turned into new engagements. If you contribute positively and regularly to the online conversations at Q&As (LinkedIn), subject matter listserv forums, blogs, and, most recently, Twitter, you are highly likely to improve your “know, like and trust” stock.

In the end, professionals who are able to renegotiate their time priorities to set aside a few hours a week to invest in online-relationship-building, will be rewarded many times over by the ease with which your network can be immediately deployed for your benefit or that of your clients.

If you find Web 2.0 daunting, ask a tech-savvy professional friend to advise you or, better yet, give me a call!

Do You Trust Me?



Guest blogged here:

Jack asked this of Rose in Titanic. Deckard asked this of Rachael in Blade Runner. Aladdin asked this of Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin. Trust is the ultimate litmus test for any relationship. It’s what happens after you’ve moved past the stages of know and like. In these tough economic times, what we really have is a crisis of trust. Employees don’t trust employers. Banks don’t trust creditors. Consumers don’t trust their advisers. Without trust, markets freeze, productivity goes down, and fear quickly takes over the business environment. Bad times quickly become a self fulfilling prophecy when trust is absent.

U.S. currency doesn’t have a lot of text on it but one sentence that is printed on every bill and coin is “IN GOD WE TRUST.” Many in this country don’t even trust in this concept anymore. So what happens as trust erodes all around us? As Thomas L. Friedman states in his book The World Is Flat, “…the very thing that keeps open society open, innovating, and flattening, (and that) is trust.” If we allow fear to take over then trust has little opportunity to grow. Instead of giving into this fear perhaps it is more productive to reflect on who you trust and why?

Stephen M.R. Covey in his book The Speed of Trust goes a step further and spells out the economics of trust.

“A cynic might ask, ‘So what? Is trust really more than a nice-to-have social virtue, a so-called hygiene factor? Can you measurably illustrate that trust is a hard-edged economic driver?’”

Throughout Mr. Covey’s book he demonstrates his “…simple formula that will enable you to take trust from an intangible and unquantifiable variable to an indispensable factor that is both tangible and quantifiable.” Basically, he concludes that when trust is low, speed is slow and costs are high. Conversely, when trust is high, speed is fast and costs are low.

How true is this when we look at life inside a law firm? Our primary goal when working with attorneys and clients should be to establish trust. As Mr. Covey believes “Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. And both are vital.”

If you have consistently performed both to the satisfaction of your audience then you already know the answer to the “Do you trust me?” question. If you haven’t, then maybe it’s time to regroup and focus on improving your character and competence.

Stick the Landing

Guest blogged here:

Watching the conventions on the heels of the Olympics, I noticed a striking similarity in the commentary from the sports and news announcers. Both kept noting that contenders had to “stick the landing.” Individuals in both proceedings were judged on whether or not they had flawless execution.

In the business world, we don’t needed judges on the sidelines holding up score cards to tell us that we missed the mark dramatically; we have blogs and newsletters for this. This weekend as I caught up on current events two stories stood out as shining examples of poor execution.

In the first article, a managing partner left plans to take a dozen nonequity partners to another firm on the printer. D’oh! The incriminating evidence exposed the entire plan. Now the law firms are suing each other instead of increasing their PPP. Maybe the winner will successfully accomplish both.

In the second article, a top HR executive selected the wrong distribution list and instead of alerting only senior managers about the looming layoffs accidentally alerted all staffers. Whoops! Hope the Chief People Officer knows some people who can help her out of this disaster.

Even though we are not top athletes or political contenders, these cautionary tales remind us that simple mistakes can discredit us in an instant. Knowledge, discipline, and hard work are only the price of admission. As downsizing and layoffs abound it is imperative to remember to execute flawlessly, follow through, and always stick the landing!

Hello, my name is AAARenee and I’m a Joiner…

Guest blogged here:

A colleague on LinkedIn recently asked what others have been thinking – why does she join so many groups? The answer is simple. I am a Joiner. It’s not as bad as it sounds and if there was a support group, I’d probably join. Since childhood, I have always belonged to more than one group (i.e. club, sport, activity, and/or organization) at any given time. My social tendencies stem from a genuine love of people and conversation. The good news is Joiners are natural connectors because they have access to an abundance of people and ideas. As social butterflies, we like spreading information. Therefore, we also like to include people because no one wants to feel like the last kid standing on the blacktop as teams are picked.

Joining groups on LinkedIn allows me to correspond with people whom I share a social common denominator while still maintaining the privacy of my first level connections. People in the groups I join are like pen pals. I can correspond when I have something to say but they remain just outside my daily life. Some groups are active with blogs, websites, and frequent conversation. Other groups are nothing more than a catalog of contacts.

Recently, I have been jumping into groups to monitor and observe them for my clients. Strategic uses of groups can be alumni, target audiences, brand loyalty, membership organizations, social/political causes, and industry groups. Groups can be inclusive or exclusive. If you start the actual group, you have the added benefit of owning the database of email addresses. A client retained me to start a group and the idea was sticky enough that it went viral. In six weeks, there were over 1,000 members in 26 countries. Apparently, there are a lot of other Joiners to be found on LinkedIn.

What are you opinions on groups on LinkedIn, do you join ’em, beat ‘em, or ignore ‘em?

Placing Bets on Online Social Networking: A Story of Capital Invested Wisely in LinkedIn


Article published here: