February 24, 2005

Low Effort, Low Risk Networking

Now here's a post I could see Matt Homann sinking his teeth into, and it's something I'll probably mention at LexThink! Chicago: Building the Perfect Firm:

Via the LegalMarketingBlog.com, I came across Fresh Inc.'s "The No-time Networking Plan" post by Keith Ferrazzi.

Keith's idea: If you can't find any time for networking, then don't. Don't stress yourself out over it either. Instead, let networking time come to you. How? By meeting people during the things you're already doing. Consider your down time while waiting in line, in a waiting room, running errands, etc., and then turn that dead time into networking time.

Keith posts a particularly inspirational account of how his friend Ben found a job in a new line of work by networking while at jury duty. Well, perhaps "networking" isn't the best description for his particular approach -- basically, he got up in front of a huge crowd of potential jurors and asked who was in the line of work he wanted. His timing was impeccable, and one can't argue with the results.

Here are my take-aways from all of this:

  1. Lawyers generally have the gift of gab -- so use it. It's one of our many talents.

  2. Don't be afraid to do something so unconventional or unexpected which your competitors would probably never try or even think of. Of course, don't confuse unconventional with unprofessional. I like to think that unconventional approaches are like our brains -- we're only using about 10% of them.

  3. Work smarter not harder: Ben worked the room with incredible efficiency, and it didn't take any extra time out of his day.

  4. Creative cold calling works with the right touch: Ben basically cold-called an entire room in less than a minute. I've personally obtained jobs by cold-calling -- jobs that turned into my career. Ben's approach was certainly more creative, less time-consuming, and required more than a little self-confidence. It took guts. Cold calling shows initiative.

  5. Don't be afraid to ask people for a little information. People love to help. I've personally had good luck with "I wonder if you could help me..."

  6. Turn adversity into opportunity. At jury duty, Ben was the only one who forgot to bring reading material. He turned an otherwise brain-numbing boredom slot into a self-marketing windfall.

  7. Be yourself. Be gutsy, be clever, but above all else, be genuine.

  8. Leverage what others know. Ben's contact in the juror room wasn't his future employer, but that person knew the people Ben was looking to meet.
This no-time approach breaks some of the well established marketing rules, such as targeting your intended audience. As such, it probably won't turn up leads as often as you might hope. But ask yourself, what have you lost by trying it during otherwise dead time?

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
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February 22, 2005

Localized Services: No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

Here's an interesting web trend: Over the past few years, "localized" web services have grown considerably. Consider Topix.net (local news by zip code), Google's Local Beta search, Cairo (local shopping deals), and others. Over the past ten years, the Internet was a bit like satellite TV in its infancy: Lots of channels but very few local ones. Now that many pieces are in place, more service providers are tapping into their potential.

I expect the localized service market to expand substantially over the next few years. While making this prediction is easy, picking the winners is anything but simple. Some, like Topix, make instant sense and should do well. Likewise, savvy real estate brokers have tapped into its power by providing online listings. It's not so clear for others trying to fill various niches.

For instance, Dodgeball really gets localized. Think of it as Friendster for your cell phone via text messaging. It lets others know where you are, or vice versa. Sounds great for socializing, but the "Crush" feature could end up a little creepy. (It's definitely a new slant on "I was just in the neighborhood.") And I thought CrackBerry dating was fraught with some interesting social implications.

It's a brave new world -- with all new localized services. Some of them will undoubtedly be ultra-trendy. However, I also expect to see even more localized marketing and networking services online for professional service verticals.

Topic(s):   Web Wizardry
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February 21, 2005

Web Tools O' Plenty

Test your Web savvy by reading PC World's "The New Web Challengers". The feature article covers a wide variety of web browsers and other web-based programs, sites, and services. See how many you're currently using or have heard something about:

  • Alternative web browsers
  • New search engines
  • News and other fresh info
  • Alternative online shopping sites
  • Online business tools
  • Little-known travel and mobile sites
  • Universal IM (Instant Messaging)
  • RSS, Blogging, and Wikis
Even die-hard surfers and bloggers are likely to pick up a few tips. For instance, I found Cairo -- no, not that sandy place, but a search engine for finding local shopping sales and deals by zip code. Very cool.

Topic(s):   Web Wizardry
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February 12, 2005

Using Tech Toys to Fill Serious Business Needs

Here's what happens when you get a legal/business/financial professional with serious tech experience thinking about next-gen mobile business solutions:

I was perusing a variety of my favorite tech news sites, and a few stories smacked of a theme to me: Let's find ways for our tech toys to meet some serious business needs. iPod webcasting (a/k/a podcasting) is well-known in techie circles, and is approaching mainstream status. Some might even say it's already there. I'd say it's still on the ramp up, but is picking up some serious speed. Savvy bloggers are embracing it with a fever. But when we get down to everyday business needs and problems, what are using these devices for? With the rapid cool-down in the pure PDA market, I was pondering where we'd see the next advances.

First, I was intrigued how radiologists are using iPods in conjunction with open source but specialty Mac OS X software to transport, view, and work with MRIs and other medical information. It wasn't just that the iPod was a portable 40GB hard drive, but that it had some smarts too -- the navigation interface could be used to organize and access patient information.

On the PC side, the OsiriX platform looks pretty darn cool and useful to me. Obviously, I'm not a medical professional, but it's impressive. Check out the screenshots and photos. I liked the one with the kid holding the iPod next to the big TV: "PET-CT reconstruction on the iPod Photo displayed on a TV through the S-Video interface". It's probably just a static photo file being displayed on the TV (nothing special there but the nice S-Video link and the iPod navigation control).

With that said, it's very easy to start brainstorming about possibilities for other markets, which is why I find this so intriguing. However, any new technology application (and that's what we're really talking about here -- finding savvy business applications for these cool devices) is going to run into problems and criticisms. Apparently there have been discussions regarding security and privacy issues, which may or may not have been resolved.

Next, I came across this CNET News report, where a Xerox Research Centre in France has developed mobile document-imaging software for camera phones. Thus cell phones with a minimum of one megapixel cameras just might gain the capability of becoming mobile document scanners. With the demise of the HP Capshare several years ago, mobile lawyers around the world were dejected. If anyone doubts the usefulness of a handheld document scanner, then why did the Capshare's two models' pricing zoom from the original $200-$300 to upwards of $1,000 on eBay as supplies dwindled? Obsolete technology that actually increased in value hundreds of percentage points? Clearly there is an untapped market here.

Here's your take-away: Some of the building blocks are already here, with others on the way. It's not hard to see engineers, product managers, and business professionals all playing with them like Legos: "What if we took this extensible tech toy, moved this here, added some software over here that leveraged the OS and interface, and made it easy to move data back and forth with this business system on the PC side?" Think of the handheld document scanner. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see a Treo or phone-based BlackBerry developer pick up on this and provide an even more compelling mobile business device.

I'm sure these are but a few examples of what we can expect to see over the next few years. Visionary and tech-savvy service professionals in many markets (including legal) will have increased opportunities to service needs that their competitors may miss. Some of the fulfilled needs may just be a more effective way to do your daily job. Others may translate to client-facing situations. Either way, you snooze, you lose. (Hence the underlying reason for my blog's tagline.)

Topic(s):   Legal Technology  |  Mobile Tech & Gadgets
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February 11, 2005

Most Common Mistakes by New Legal Bloggers

There's lotsa blogging about blawging going on around here:

If you're new to blogging or are considering blogging, Dennis Kennedy's recent post is required reading. Dennis is one of the few people I know who breaks down a complex socio-technological issue like blogging into easily understood advice.

Likewise, Kevin O'Keefe came across 10 tips for better blogging. Kevin and legal marketing guru Larry Bodine are also offering a blogging webinar on Feb. 17th.

Topic(s):   Blogging Tips
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February 08, 2005

Two Great Guides to Firefox Extensions

The Firefox browser, while all the rage, lacks some functionality out of the box. The magic is in the plugins. So if it's left you wanting more, check out PC Magazine's Top 15 Firefox Extensions. Still not enough? Head on over to Flexbeta's guide to Firefox extensions, where nearly 30 are covered. There's something for everyone.

Topic(s):   Web Wizardry
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February 06, 2005

Good Account of the Crackberry's Popularity

Legal IT, a legal technology magazine from across the pond, has a great article covering law firms' love affair with the BlackBerry. The gist of it is that lawyers find it simple to use, and it makes IT departments look good to boot. John Rogers, the author, also explores other entrants in the mobile messaging market, such as the Treo 600, Goodlink, and more (granted, a number are understandably UK solution providers). A good read if you're considering whether to adopt or expand your mobile solutions.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets
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