Monthly Archives: February 2007

links for 2007-02-28

LinkedIn and Gmail

I’ve been a big fan of LinkedIn for quite some time, and since I abandoned Outlook (and LinkedIn’s amazing Outlook plugin), I’ve been using the Firefox and Gmail extensions pretty regularly.  When I logged in today to invite a few of my contacts, I noticed I could import all of my contacts from my Gmail (and Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL mail) address book, and invite them at once.

From your LinkedIn home page, click on the “+Expand Your Network” button on the upper right and follow the instructions.  Very easy and very cool!

Take your Client’s Stakeholders to Lunch

Joyce Wycoff suggests taking internal stakeholders to lunch:

Identify all of your stakeholders … the people who are affected by your work, immediately and at a distance.  Your monthly report may only go to 3-4 people but the information in it may get passed along or acted upon by dozens of others.  Start to invite your stakeholders to lunch one or two at a time and just get to know them.

This is great advice, and equally applicable to the stakeholders in your clients’ organizations.  Just make sure they know you are not billing them for the lunch!

Why Clients Don’t Listen

Wonder why your clients don’t listen to you?  Perhaps this article explaining why men ignore nagging wives may give you some insight.  In short, many people will act in ways that are not in their own best interest, just because they wish to avoid doing what others want them to do.  This is called “reactance,” and is defined as, “a person’s tendency to resist social influences that they perceive as threats to their autonomy.”  The article describes two interesting experiments that demonstrate just how ingrained this behavior can be:

In the first experiment, participants were asked to name a significant person in their lives whom they perceived to be controlling and who wanted them to work hard, and another significant and controlling person who wanted them to have fun. Participants then performed a computer-based activity during which the name of one or the other of these people was repeatedly, but subliminally, flashed on the screen. The name appeared too quickly for the participants to consciously realize they had seen it, but just long enough for the significant other to be activated in their nonconscious minds. The participants were then given a series of anagrams to solve, creating words from jumbled letters.

People who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to work hard performed significantly worse on the anagram task than did participants who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to have fun.

“Our participants were not even aware that they had been exposed to someone else’s name, yet that nonconscious exposure was enough to cause them to act in defiance of what their significant other would want them to do,” Fitzsimons said.

A second experiment used a similar approach and added an assessment of each participant’s level of reactance. People who were more reactant responded more strongly to the subliminal cues and showed greater variation in their performance than people who were less reactant.

“The main finding of this research is that people with a tendency toward reactance may nonconsciously and quite unintentionally act in a counterproductive manner simply because they are trying to resist someone else’s encroachment on their freedom,” Chartrand said.

Though the article pokes a bit of fun at the husband/wife dynamic, this kind of behavior has very serious implications for advice-giving professionals and our clients.  I’d encourage you to read the entire study (cost:  $30.00).

Cure (Brief) Writer’s Block

Having a hard time writing that brief that’s due next week?  Here’s a great list of tools, toys and inspirational sites to get you from your Statement of Facts all the way to your Table of Authorities — or at least inspire you to write some poetry or the next great American novel.

links for 2007-02-24

Hang Around for Business Clients

Right after I wrote the Sand Imprint Post, I found another clever way to advertise:  Hangvertising.  From the geniuses at Hanger Network come EcoHangers(tm), a recyclable, paper hanger that has advertising printed on it.  Just think, you could find the dry cleaner in the most expensive part of town, and ask them to use the EcoHangers (with your business-appropriate ad) on all business suits they dry clean. 

Dd_1

Brilliant.

Ask Your Clients for Ten Ways You Can be Better

Guy Kawasaki shares a study by Craig R. Fox (pdf) that compares two groups of students, each asked to evaluate an MBA course:

One group was asked for two ways to improve the course; the other was asked for ten ways to improve the course. The group that was asked to list ten ways showed a higher level of satisfaction with the course.

So, when will you start asking all of your clients for ten ways to improve your service?

Footprints (and a toll-free number) in the Sand

Do you practice near a beach?  Here’s a great marketing idea (hat-tip to Church Relevance) that just might get your firm noticed:  environmentally safe ads that are imprinted in the sand.

Of course, it may be hard to “save” the advertisement for those pesky bar advertising rules.

Join Me March 8th for a Teleseminar

I’d like you to join me for a teleseminar on March 8th, titled: Think Real BIG — Ten Creative Strategies for Building an Innovative Law Practice.  It is part of the online-only Career & Practice Development Conference

I will share ten unique and easy-to-implement strategies to help you create an innovative, service-centered law practice that you’ll love as much as your clients do.

The teleseminar takes place from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST and the cost is $59.00.  You can register here.

I’m Sorry, I Don’t Remember How to Say I’m Sorry

Joel Spolsky shares Seven Steps to Remarkable Customer Service that shares lessons his software company has learned (in come cases, the hard way).  Many make sense for professional service providers.  My favorite, though, is this one

Memorize Awkward Phrases.  

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotional heat of the moment when someone is complaining.

The solution is to memorize some key phrases, and practice saying them, so that when you need to say them, you can forget your testosterone and make a customer happy.

“I’m sorry, it’s my fault.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t accept your money. The meal’s on me.”

“That’s terrible, please tell me what happened so I can make sure it never happens again.”

It’s completely natural to have trouble saying “It’s my fault.” That’s human. But those three words are going to make your angry customers much happier. So you’re going to have to say them. And you’re going to have to sound like you mean it.

So start practicing.

Say “It’s my fault” a hundred times one morning in the shower, until it starts to sound like syllabic nonsense. Then you’ll be able to say it on demand.

One more point. You may think that admitting fault is a strict no-no that can get you sued. This is nonsense. The way to avoid getting sued is not to have people who are mad at you. The best way to do this is to admit fault and fix the damn problem.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole post.  It is really great stuff.

links for 2007-02-07

links for 2007-02-06

Define Your Firm’s Rules of Engagement

Guy Kawasaki shares some “Rules of Engagement” from a company called SuccessFactors.  Here they are:

Rules of Engagement

  1. I will be passionate—about SuccessFactors’ mission, about my work. I will love what we do for companies and employees everywhere.

  2. I will demonstrate respect for the individual; I will be nice and listen to others, and respect myself. I will act with integrity and professionalism.

  3. I will do what it takes to get the job done, no matter what it takes, but within legal and ethical boundaries.

  4. I know that this is a company, not a charity. I will not waste money—I will question every cost.

  5. I will present an exhaustive list of solutions to problems—and suggest actionable recommendations.

  6. I will help my colleagues and recognize the team when we win. I will never leave them behind when we lose.

  7. I will constantly improve Kaizen! I will approach every day as an opportunity to do a better job, admitting to and learning from my mistakes.

  8. I will selflessly pursue customer success.

  9. I will support the culture of meritocracy and pay for performance.

  10. I will focus on results and winning—scoring points, not just gaining yardage.

  11. I will be transparent. I will communicate clearly and be brutally honest, even when it’s difficult, because I trust my colleagues.

  12. I will always be in sales and drive customer satisfaction.

  13. I will have fun at work and approach my work with enthusiasm.

  14. I will be a good person to work with—I will not be an asshole.

I agree to live these values. If my colleagues fail to live up to any of these rules, I will speak up and will help them correct; in turn, I will be open to constructive criticism from my colleagues should I fail to live by these values. I understand that my performance will be judged in part by how well I demonstrate these values in my daily work.

Any professional service firms out there with similar “Rules” for their employees?

Branding on the Cheap

Here is a great resource for web startups that has a few gems for lawyers too:  Little Known Ways to Brand on the Cheap.  Just a few favorites:

26. E-profiles: manage your reputation. If a potential customer types in your name into a search engine, what sort of results will they see in the top 10? It’s key for you to secure the top 10 results in Google, Yahoo and MSN for searches relating directly and indirectly (if possible) to your brand. You need to be the one defining what people see when they search for you, not your competition. Start by building e-profiles on authority domains such as MySpace, Squidoo, AboutUs, WordPress, Blogger/ Blogspot, MSN Spaces, TypePad, Newsvine, LinkedIn, Rollyo, Wikipedia, etc. Don’t let someone else define who you are.

28. Get listed on local authority websites. Many cities will have a large, centrally operated online business directory. A link from a local government site (.gov) will boost your visibility and build your search engine rankings. Often that requires no more effort than doing a GoogleSearch for “(your city) business directory” and emailing the webmaster.

36. Design with a focus on MDA. Design your blog with a focus on visitor experience that leads the user to your MDA (Most Desired Action). Test various designs before launch by asking friends and family to go to the site and see where they click and when.

39. Design for scanners, not readers. I know, you’ve put a lot of time into your content, so you want people to read every little word. But the truth is, people online are scanners, not readers. So if you want to get your message across, you need to tell them your unique selling points in a bullet list or in short crisp sentences.

77. Do something outrageous. Or at very least unusual, and document the action itself and reactions others had to it. Randy’s Affiliate Marketing Programs Blog discusses a few of the more famous outrageous branding ideas, from Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage (the original dollar-a-pixel site) to John Freyer’s All My Life for Sale (a wildly-successful eBay project).

91. Guerilla marketing. Head down to your local library and hunt down books relevant to your topic. Then insert your business card or flyer into the book at the very front. This guerilla marketing can work on an individual level, but the benefits can multiply dramatically if your persistent activity starts to create buzz.

94. Be a star. Call up your local public cable access channel and ask to be interviewed. They are desperate for content and may go for it.