January 25, 2009

"Tip of the Week" - Start a Blog (Huh? That's Your Tip in 2009?)

You're laughing at me about now, right?  I've been blogging for more than two years, readers considering me well-established and progressive and my tip of the week is something so quaint and 'yesterday' as 'start a blog?'

But I realize that once you leave our rather incestuous internet world of a mere few thousand legal bloggers, that leaves more than a million lawyers out there who still haven't recognized the value of blogging.  Or worse, recognize the value and just don't do it reciting any number of misguided excuses.  I was reminded of this fact by a young guy who is not in the legal marketing world, but in a very different place, who simply believes everyone should be blogging to build opportunities in their lives whatever their chosen career path or future goals because of its inherent power to do two things: help you manage your reputation and to build awareness of your existence (to potential employers or potential clients) and those who may be looking for someone 'just like you."  This includes editors, publishers, academia and more.

Dan Schwabel writes a powerful post on the indisputable benefits of blogging, especially in a down economy. He is not in the legal field nor a legal marketer.  He is simply one who embraces the concept of personal branding regardless your career or personal and professional goals.  He exalts the internet and the blogging platform as a way for you to grab a hold of your personal power and use it to advance in the 21st century.  My two favorites are below

4. Promotes Brand You

When you’re sleeping, your blog is working for you overtime and you don’t even have to pay it! That’s right; a blog is an incredible marketing tool for your personal brand. Every blog post can be found in Google, commented on, shared and so on. A blog is an advertisement and.... your blog is your resume. People are getting jobs all the time from their blogs and they aren’t even applying for them. Blogging is a form of attraction marketing, where people get interested in your content (that you give out for free) and then either hire you or give you an opportunity that can help you build your brand, such as a speaking gig. .......

5. Relieves you from Stress

Blogging is very good for the soul and keeps you active, to a point, where you’ll forget we are even in an economic recession. When you start blogging, you’ll realize that it really consumes your time and, in a sense, this is a very good thing for you when you hear stories of people getting laid off, left and right. A blog will settle you down, make you concentrate more and allow you to flush your ideas out, which can turn into new business ventures! Forget a stress ball and any other infomercials you might see on TV. A blog will actually help you become more of who you are and you can form relationships with people just like you. In this way, you have a whole choir to preach to, instead of just your family and friends.

While Dan discusses more these two particular points seem vitally important now.  It is about being available and seen in the medium where people are looking for you more and more.  Managing your online reputation is key.  Controlling the message and your reputation is vital.  Showcasing your unique skill sets through writing, video, podcasts are necessary talents to develop to stay competitive.

We will be offering free state of the art, fully loaded Wordpress 2.7 blogs at Solo Practice University if you are still 'uncomfortable' knowing how to go about blogging.  But not using a blogging platform to showcase yourself is no longer an option no matter your career goals.  It just isn't.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

January 18, 2009

(OT) "Tip of the Week" - Do You Know How To Have Pleasure?

No, this is not an advertisement for Viagra, although the headline implies it could be.  This is actually a very serious question which has been on my mind since I read this passage from a novel I'm reading by Elizabeth Gilbert called "Eat, Pray, Love.":

"Generally speaking, Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure.  Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one.  Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused with everything from porn to theme parks to wars, but that's not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment.  Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today.  But as (it has been) pointed out, we seem to like it.  Alarming statistics back this observation up, showing that many Americans feel more happy and fulfilled in their offices than they do in their own homes.  Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure).  Americans don't really know how to do nothing.  This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype - the overstressed executive who goes on vacation, but who cannot relax."


I don't know how many people can relate to this passage, but upon deeper reflection, I realize many people I know do not know how to 'relax into pleasure' that is uninterrupted. I call this type of relaxation 'decompressing.'  Decompression has no interruptions. Yet interruption comes in many forms including the brain bringing you back to work, projects, unfinished business, fretting about meeting goals, success, money, the future and more all while trying to 'do something else' which is supposed to be the opposite of work.  And that wears on the soul.  It means you are never fully 'in the moment.'

I know I fall victim to something maybe unique.  My brain is always in overdrive.  I am reading constantly, addicted to mental stimulation to the point the only way I can disengage from 'work' is to distract it from what it is doing with different mental stimulation.  I don't know if this is sad or good or pathetic. But it is me.  No matter what I am doing I feel I need to be doing something 'work-related' or mind-stimulating.  I don't feel I've earned relaxation until I've done something more 'achievement-oriented.'  Someone once said to me, 'how sad.'

As a solo practitioner, is this a luxury we are depriving ourselves from more so beyond the stereotypical employed lawyer or even American? Is this really an American phenomenon or crosses cultures?  Or are there many out there who have mastered the art of relaxing into pleasure and are truly able to turn off their working brains and enjoy the sheer joys of life's simple, non-entertainment, driven pleasures?

Please let me know.

..... just typing out loud.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

January 11, 2009

"Tip of the Week" - Ask ChaCha

I was at my husband's firehouse the other day and the crew was fighting over the answer to the following question: "How many countries in the world?"  My first inclination was to go to the computer and google but then the youngest member of the crew said, "I'll ask ChaCha."

I thought ChaCha was an elf who lived in the radiator or something.  Next thing I know he's dialing a number on his blackberry and he asks whoever picked up "How many countries in the world?" Then he hangs up.  Within one minute he gets a text message saying they are working on the answer.  One minute later he gets another text message with a detailed answer.

OK.  Who is 'cha cha?'

ChaCha is like having a smart friend you can call or text for answers on your cell phone anytime for free!  ChaCha works with virtually every provider and allows people with any mobile phone device - from basic flip phones to advanced smart phone - to ask any question in conversational English and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes.

What's your question?

Simply text your question to 24224 (spells 'ChaCha') or call 1-800-2ChaCha  (800-224-2242) from your mobile phone and ask any question.  What are you waiting for? Ask away!

Here is a demo of how ChaCha works.

You may wonder why you would need ChaCha if you have a smart phone and internet access.  Because if you are in a rush, you are not looking for a link, you are looking for an answer.  Makes sense to me. And you can ask a question, get on with business and they'll get your answer for you.

Check it out and let me know how you like it.

Oh, there is no question too stupid.  Trust me, ChaCha answers anything. :-)

January 05, 2009

"Tip of the Week" - Write a Blawg Review

Monday, January 12th, I will be hosting my second Blawg Review.  You can find my first Blawg Review #142 here.

But why is this a 'tip of the week?'  There are many opportunities out there to get you, your writing and your blog noticed in a very worthwhile way.  One of the best is hosting Blawg Review.  If you go to the list of future hosts (scroll down on the right) you will see there are many dates available and you should throw your name in the hat.

I'm sure Ed. (short for 'unknown editor' ) would welcome fresh, new contributors.  You will be able to contribute something worthwhile to a terrific community of loyal readers and earn recognition for your efforts.  It's all about giving first.

This week I encourage you to write a post about 'innovation' as this will be the theme next Monday.  Please forward to Ed. so he can forward to me for inclusion.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

December 14, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - Use Blog Commenting Wisely

What are you hoping to achieve when you comment on a blog? 

  • Is it to continue a conversation with an author because they have engaged you and inspired you to answer? 
  • Is it because the blog has high traffic and you hope to get a little of that traffic directed to your site (providing you give a URL when prompted)? 
  • Are you simply doing so to get noticed by the blog author regardless their traffic?
  • Or is it a combination of all of the above in varying degrees depending upon the blog?


I would venture to say most commenters are moved by all three in varying degrees.  I know I am. So I'd like to make a few recommendations:

1.  Only comment when you have something of genuine value to add to the conversation.
2.  If you have a blog, don't just link back to your main page.  Link back to either your About page which lets the author and her readers know who you are or link to a particular post you are quite proud of and/or got high readership and comments.
3. In addition, depending upon the sophistication of the blog, quite often the author will have enabled a widget which will also grab your most recent blog post.
4. Go to Gravatar.com if you haven't already and sign up for a universal gravatar.  This way, if the blog (or any site for that matter) is gravatar enabled, every time you post a comment your picture automatically comes up when you use the associated e-mail address.   The picture which you use will hopefully be one you use elsewhere and this creates a subtle, 'I know her' effect.

For example, depending upon the blog author's site, I will either sign in with a relevant post from this blog or from Solo Practice University, but it will be one that makes sense for that readership.

But most importantly, make comments that are meaningful and add value.  This is what reflects most upon you and is the single most important factor contributing to your online reputation.  The rest is just an added bonus.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

December 07, 2008

"Tip of the Week" Don't Know How to Handle Received Business Cards?

Just discovered an amazingly efficient tool that can make your life easier - Shoeboxed.

Shoeboxed is very cool if you have problems managing all the data you know you need to enter into your programs for future use.  You keep letting your business cards pile up, eventually they are rendered useless.  All those valuable contacts from conferences, seminars, random meetings, whatever are gathering dust, or worse, lost. 

You've spent the time networking and collected good information for future business relationships but you simply frustrated or have no time for the necessary organization of you business cards which prevents efficient and meaningful follow-through. That's where Shoeboxed steps in.

You can see the demo video here on what they can do for your business card pile.  I think I'm in love:

And for all those receipts you need to organize? Check this out.  (Right now I manually put all my receipts into Quicken and save piles of receipts) With Shoeboxed I could theoretically send my paper receipts to them...they scan and provide a datafeed as well as return the original receipts and I can just upload to Quicken directly.)  I'm led to believe the datafeed and scanned receipts are IRS approved, too.

As a solo, committing yourself to doing the data input necessary to make you more efficient can be an absolutely nightmare....thereby rendering you completely inefficient which costs you money.  Hiring a bookkeeper to do it can be costly, too. Shoeboxed may be just the answer you are looking for.

(Disclosure:  I'm not an affiliate nor do I get anything for discussing them on my site.  Just thoguht they are on to a good thing and it seems time-saving, organized and efficient! which well help you be more productive!)

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

November 23, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - The Importance of Perspective

https://writerchicktalks.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/expectations-one.jpg

There once was a Taoist farmer. One day the Taoist farmer’s only horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The farmer’s neighbors, all hearing of the horse running away, came to the Taoist farmer's house to view the corral. As they stood there, the neighbors all said, "Oh what bad luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

About a week later, the horse returned, bringing with it a whole herd of wild horses, which the Taoist farmer and his son quickly corralled. The neighbors, hearing of the corralling of the horses, came to see for themselves. As they stood there looking at the corral filled with horses, the neighbors said, "Oh what good luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

A couple of weeks later, the Taoist farmer's son's leg was badly broken when he was thrown from a horse he was trying to break. A few days later the broken leg became infected and the son became delirious with fever. The neighbors, all hearing of the incident, came to see the son. As they stood there, the neighbors said, "Oh what bad luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

At that same time in China, there was a war going on between two rival warlords. The warlord of the Taoist farmer's village was involved in this war. In need of more soldiers, he sent one of his captains to the village to conscript young men to fight in the war. When the captain came to take the Taoist farmer's son he found a young man with a broken leg who was delirious with fever. Knowing there was no way the son could fight, the captain left him there. A few days later, the son's fever broke. The neighbors, hearing of the son's not being taken to fight in the war and of his return to good health, all came to see him. As they stood there, each one said, "Oh what good luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

_______________________
 
According to Taoism, the true significance of events can never be understood as they are occurring, for in every event there are elements of both good and bad. Furthermore, each event has no specific beginning or end and may influence events for years to come.

Life is all about perspective. Expectations, I have found, do more harm then good.  If our expectations are too high we will always be disappointed because we don't allow for unplanned opportunities.  If our expectations are too low, we may never strive for greater things.
 
What's rocking our world today and the worlds of those we love, family and friends, are just current circumstances.  And circumstances change by the minute.  What impacts ever-changing circumstances is how we view them and how we act in the moment and going forward.  Do we roll with the punches, go with the flow?  Or do we absorb every punch and kick until we are knocked out, fight the tide until we are exhausted and drown or simply live our lives dodging bullets?  Or a combination of the three?
 
It's all about perspective.  What perspective do you bring to this adventure called 'solo practice'? And this adventure called 'life'?

Happy Thanksgiving. Hug your families and appreciate them.  Give thanks for whatever situation, no matter how dire, because with the proper perspective it may very well be the birth of opportunity.

I'll be back with new posts after the holiday.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

.

November 09, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - Are You Listed in the Just Tweet It 'Law' Directory?

If you aren't tweeting you should be.  But if you are, you need to get listed in the Just Tweet It Law Directory   for both free advertising and networking opportunities.

The Just Tweet It directory allows you to display your Twitter address (feel free to follow me here) as well as a description of who you are and what you do.  The catch:  be prepared to edit and finish within 30 minutes or you won't be able to get back in to fix.

Related Links of Interest:

Twitter - The Rules of Engagement

Twitter for Small Business  - The Solo Pracitioner

Lawyers Are Tweeting Away - Time to Join Them in the Forefront



(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter

November 01, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - Do You Have A Gravatar

A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?

And here is how you can get one and I would encourage you to do so. I've been using one for months.

Signing up for a gravatar.com account is FREE, and all that’s required is your email address. Once you’ve signed up you can upload your avatar image and soon after you’ll start seeing it on gravatar enabled weblogs!

Go HERE to sign up. It is quick and easy to do.

Solo Practice University is gravatar enabled.  The reason this is so important....recognition, familiarity, others seeing you in many places makes people say, "I've seen her around"  which leads to, "I know her." In this day and age of multiple social media sites, this type of consistency throughout multiple communities is an easy, added bonus.  OK..it's a no-brainer.

(H/T to Grant Griffith's at Blog For Profit)

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University. 

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

October 26, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - Are you E-billing Your Clients?

H/T to Enrico Schaefer of The Greatest American Lawyer for this blog post where he discusses how beneficial it is to e-bill clients when he asks the question, "Why Wouldn't You Send Your Clients Their Bill By E-mail?".

Even large players such as the 310-attorney firm Loeb & Loeb have gone to e-billing.  In this step by step article, Loeb & Loeb Embraces E-Billing, you can learn everything you need to do in order to implement an e-billing system.  If you manage to also bill on a flat fee basis, you won’t ever have to send a past due or collection letter again.

It is cost-effective and time saving from the perspective of creating bills to mailing bills to waiting on checks to receiving checks to cashing checks and all the time and energy involved in the process...not to mention growing receivables.

Will this cure the problems associated with the client who simply can't or won't pay?  Probably not.  But it flushes out the non-paying client quicker and helps you decide whether you are willing to continue representing them.

While this may not work for every class of client or practice area it is certainly something worth investigating if your practice lends itself to this type of convenience.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.