Celebrating My 100th Blog Post

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Marketing My Business Part II

Today many businesses have multiple social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blogs. I have read that to make my updates easier, I must link all my social media so that one post to one media is published to all the other media outlets.

For instance, this post will go out to my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin profiles. Do I want this? Are all the audiences for these outlets the same?

This is a question I did not ask myself before last week.  This week I am talking to my class, law practice management about marketing business. I had a speaker to talk about social media ethics. Craig Moore spoke about using Facebook and Twitter to connect with clients.

This got me thinking: why speak about the same topics on all the social media feeds? So now my plan is to explain my thinking on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook in greater depth on this blog.

I have decided to speak on different topics on Facebook and Twitter because the audiences are different. Linkedin is more corporate, while Facebook is a social website; Twitter is instantaneous.

Decide for yourself. Differentiate to stand out.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Should lawyers have a business plan?

Today, I was interviewed by Helen Gunnarsson who writes for the Illinois Bar Journal. She asked a very good question–do lawyers need a business plan?

I asked my law practice management class at St. Louis University Law School to end the class with a presentation of a business plan for their future practice. I think business plans give a lawyer a base on which to practice; we are not in isolation anymore. There is tremendous competition for the same legal dollars from everywhere, within the city, state, multi-jurisdictional firms, large volume document processors and traditional law firms.

This competition demands that we deliver legal services for a lower price; even large corporate clients have become value conscious, which means that the little gal or guy better measure up and perform. So what does this signify for us, the little guys and gals? To measure up and deliver value measured legal services, we need to identify our target client and ethically market to that client.

Lawyers are not just business-people, they also have to practice and deliver within the bounds of the rules of ethics. Just because we find that our best client is usually at the emergency room in a hospital or in an ambulance, does not imply we can accost the prospect there to convert them into clients!

Having a strategic plan also requires that we must use social media and have a website, but market ourselves within the limits of our state licenses. I use my strategic plan to identify my market, define where the prospect is located and target my best marketing skills and media to that client. Hence my strategic plan must have a plan for using social media and my current clients. You need both because the law is not yet a commodity, although some parts of it are heading in that direction. I deliver quality services to my current clients who refer other clients to me.

I have a plan on how I use my Linkedin, Facebook and blog accounts. The audience and message on these media are highly focused and the fact that your marketing plan needs to match your audience.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Google+

My daughter sent me an invitation to Google+. At first glance it seems to be a mixture of Facebook and LinkedIn, and you can post updates like twitter. I added photos from Picasa and made them public. I separated my friends into acquaintances and close friends with whom I hang out with every weekend. I also separated other ‘friend’ groups, and my family to ‘near and dear’ and extended family.  resumably I can send targeted comments and have different sharing settings.

Google+ says it is a work in progress and that like gmail, it is being rolled out slowly. I was able to upload my pictures from Picasa and photos from my album very easily. But I was a little wary of sharing my Picasa photos or making them public.

Get this: I can video conference with 10 friends on Google+. It is called ‘Hangout’. All my google services are being loosely connected together in one spot. I discovered one of my friends had 42 friends already and her friends became my friends! No asking permission.

I also added topics of interest (Sparks) to my profile. Easy! Just searched and voila, added! Now I get streams of info on topics such as gardening, immigration law and news.

The groups called circles means more privacy than Facebook, where everything I say is sent to my friends and friends of friends. So I would manage the circles very carefully. I never forget that the internet is forever.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Marketing Your Law Practice Part II

I don’t care how many people tell me that marketing on the internet is the way to go, the only way to be seen and to attract clients; I still think the good old fashioned way of building relationships is the way to build your business and brand.

Relationships can be built in person or over the net. I am a member of a quite a few listserves, both professional and personal. The more you write to listserves, the more your name is know to other contributors. I go to conferences and it is fun to meet and greet other listserve ‘contributors’; I feel I already know them, and we have a conversation as if we have known each other for years.

Community involvement is also a relationship builder. A friend of mine celebrated her 70th birthday. I was delighted to be part of the party planning committee. It was a great success; we had over a 100 people show up. I met and befriended so many persons I would never have met otherwise.

I never realized that my updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were being seen by my friends. Recently, I posted a remark about my children graduating and finding their place in life; ‘it was a joy’, I wrote. I had the greatest number of responses to that tweet. My professional tweets never solicit so many responses!

I am still trying to walk the tightrope of being real onlinem and yet not revealing personal details that would jeopardize my clients and friends.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Facebook for Lawyers

Facebook… what can I say. I think it’s needed to grow business. More of my clients are online and almost none use paper directories. Just de-linked myself from the yellow pages. All my friends are on Facebook, even if they see each other 3 times a week. My secretary tells me that she checks her page every day, and my students in law school are checking email, Facebooking, Twittering and blogging their way through class. My blog goes out to my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts. So let me join the pack. But setting up a Facebook (FB) page is a different story, and one that is not so easy.

I had a personal page which I never used, but which was linked to my office email address. I had to delink the personal FB profile and set up a new law firm page on FB Pages, another animal of the same stripe. Many trials and errors and several confirmations later, I think I am successful. Now I have uploaded a new picture of me. Whew! Why do they make it so difficult to set up, yet release and track our private information?

For starters, create a profile associated with the FB Page for your business, not a personal profile. Sounds simple, but after a few tries we got it. Rather Ms. Ashley, my secretary, was the architect. For people associated with law, FB has some pitfalls. Lawyers can unwittingly create a client attorney relationship by just answering questions posted on their FB wall. The definition can be quite subjective, depending on jurisdiction and the recipient. It also means that by answering questions, the lawyer could be breaching confidentiality. Like the old ad line, “Show me the beef”, lawyers are required to factually support their prowess; no puffery allowed. Also, lawyers cannot answer legal questions outside their state(s). If you are in federal practice like immigration, that may be a different situation. I cannot invite you to be my friend if I want to target you as a client. It is called solicitation. I cannot join a chat room or an online discussion of the law, because I would be inadvertently creating legal expectations and client relationships with the participants. I want to be careful of witnesses, and careful of disclosing confidential information or prejudicing potential jurors. So now you have my reasons why I haven’t friended my waiting friends on FB. If I try to correct the record, Google and Yahoo keep electronic record of all posts. None of the posts to any social media are private. Immigration officers routinely surf FB, Linkedin, Twitter, Google and Yahoo, for information on the applicant. So do employers and potential life partners! Hey, so do college admission officers! This is true of family law, criminal and any other branch. And you thought it was only the CIA looking for Osama. In the old days, articles and messages from professionals went through a vetting process. Now anyone can and does publish. Relying on information on the web and social media can be risky. So after sounding like the doomsday oracle, I am still on FB and Twitter and Linkedin, but with all the caveats!

See you in my next post.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.

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Identity Theft

Was a victim of identity theft


I met a friend yesterday who told me that his identity was stolen a few weeks ago. Then a friend’s daughter from Cleveland told me the same thing.  I too was a victim of identity theft a few years ago. The thief changed my address and charged 20K to my card. Not a pleasant experience. The bank seemed to think it was my fault. I had to file an affidavit that I had not stolen my own credit card!! Recently, I was at a gas station when I noticed the customer in front of me open their wallet and had their social security card and driver’s license on either side of their wallet in all its shiny glory! I have read recent reports that affluent consumers and people with excellent credit could be at higher risk for identity theft. So here are my thoughts on the subject of what to do and how to prevent it.

Of course, please do not carry your social security (SS) card in your wallet, nor a copy of the card. If your SS # has been lifted, get a new SS # from the Agency. See Social security and Identity Theft, for more information on this subject. Don’t write your PIN number on your check cards. Find a number you can remember and memorize it. Don’t use your birthdate or your anniversary or your children’s birthdays as PIN numbers. Thieves find these easy to locate. Make photocopies of your credit cards. If your wallet is stolen or your identity stolen, make a police complaint and obtain the complaint number.  Report it to the credit reporting agencies at Experian fraud alert, Equifax, and Transunion.  Their phone numbers are Phone: 800-525-6285 or: 404-885-8000 (Equifax); and Phone: 888-397-3742 (Experian) and Phone: 800-680-7289 (Transunion). In general, a fraud alert for 90 days or 7 years is a good start to prevent further thefts or even to prevent one. You can also freeze your credit, so that no one including you can open a new credit card or other line of credit without alerting you. Your financial institution also has paid services to alert you to changes. If you are going out-of-town, don’t alert your followers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media! Thieves are followers too! Military active duty personnel can make an active duty fraud alert posted to their file. File a security alert or victim statement with all national credit bureaus; inform each creditor, document all the contacts (names, telephone numbers, dates, times, subject/details of your talk with the creditor’s representative). Every creditor has a different process, so make sure you understand what is expected of you. Above all make a note of the details. Follow up on the phone calls and keep the notes in a file so that you can monitor your credit cards and accounts when a new fraud shows up. You can add an Extended Fraud Victim Alert to your report by submitting a copy of a valid identity theft report that you have filed with a Federal, State or local law enforcement agency. An Extended Alert will remain on your report for seven years. When you get mail, shred or tear up credit card solicitations, review your credit report every 6 months, pay attention to your credit card transactions, do not leave your mail unattended in a public place, keep track of when statements arrive, better yet, let your statements come to your email inbox. Don’t give out personal information over the phone, and don’t list your phone number. Electronic: Install firewalls and internet anti virus software, don’t open emails from unknown senders, don’t use public computers to search your personal email accounts and bank accounts. Change your passwords periodically. At work, avoid leaving your handbag or wallet on your desk or unsecured, sensitive documents like bank and pay stubs should not be placed in plain view for all to see. Above all, do not send your social security number over email.

Be safe, and see you in my next post.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.

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Marketing Your Business

I started a book review for Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, a lawyers’ association in St. Louis, MO. Their URL is http://www.bamsl.org. It is a great way to improve visibility and read books at the same time! This time I read ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. Next time I will review ‘China, a History’, by John Keay. He has also written a book about the history of India, which I am also planning on reading and reviewing.

Now I am involved in promoting immigration education topics for lawyers, for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. I am speaking at a seminar about immigration for lawyers who don’t practice in the area. All these ideas are to promote your visibility and expertise in a way that showcases what you know. Above all, I have learned to deliver content relevant to the audience. You need to engage the audience through meaningful content relevant to their needs. Another way to promote visibility is to join as many social media outlets as you can and link the outlets to your website. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, PRWeb, etc. You can add content simultaneously to all these outlets using Tweetdeck or Ping.

See you in my next post.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.

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