Search Results for: networking

Networking Should Be Fun

The Other Side of the Trampoline by Peter Werkman from Flickr

The Other Side of the Trampoline by Peter Werkman from Flickr

If you’re a business owner, networking is part of your job. It’s a significant part of my job. I attend two to four events to shake hands and kiss babies every week. My goal at each of these events is to make connections and build relationships with other professionals in my community.

Because my goal is to create relationships, I prefer to network in smaller groups and one-on-one than at large networking events. Larger events tend to be loud, crowded, and you never know who you’re going to meet. You may meet some interesting people at these events but it also feels like it would be easier to find a needle in a haystack than to find the people you really want to meet. I prefer personalized introductions and specialized networking events like those geared towards entrepreneurs, social media professionals, local business owners, artists, and my fellow legal eagles.

Most of the time, a networking meeting involves meeting for coffee. Coffee is fine, especially from awesome independent shops like Luci’s and Lux. (The last cup of coffee I had at a Starbucks was so vile it made me never want to go there again.) I’ve networked so much that I’m a little coffeed out and I’m looking to change it up a bit.

I’m a big believer that if you don’t love your job, you should change it. In that spirit, I want to make networking more fun. Networking is really about making connections by sharing information and ideas between people. The location is simply the forum. So why not make it a fun-based experience?

I recently invited my email list to meet me for ice cream (ICE KREM!) instead of coffee this summer. Come on – it’s freakishly hot in Phoenix. We should have something refreshing. Besides ice cream, I’d love to network over a game of cards or Skip-Bo. For people who are a more adventurous we could go bowling or hit my favorite trampoline playground. I would be happy to meet with people before attending a book signing at Changing Hands or a movie screening by the AZ Tech Council or wander around the Phoenix Art Museum on a Wednesday night when it’s open to the public for free.

When the weather cools down, I think it would be fun to meet people while feeding the fish at the Japanese Friendship Garden, wandering around First Friday, or taking our dogs to the dog park.

So, if you are a professional networker who wants to kick the experience up a notch and you work in the same circles as me, drop me a line. Of course, if I find you unbearable or you hit me with a hard sell, I will assume you don’t understand the real purpose of networking and invoke the Law of Two Feet.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

The Undeniable Tour Preview Talk at ASU Law

Legal Rebel Photoshoot 2012 by Don McPhee

Legal Rebel Photoshoot 2012 by Don McPhee

I’m so excited that I get to speak at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on Thursday, October 23rd and present the talk I’ll be taking on the road during The Undeniable Tour.

I’ll be sharing my story about how I went from a middle-of-the-pack nothing special law student to being a lawyer with a successful solo practice, three best-selling books, and the first person ever selected from Arizona to be an ABA Legal Rebel.

What I did wasn’t rocket science, but it did require tenacity, a strong desire to learn and make connections with people, and having a life outside of law school. That’s where I found my passions for flash mobs and social media and developed those into niches that are now the hallmarks of my practice. Along with sharing my story, I’m going to be talking about how to use social media and blogging as networking tools that can be leveraged to make connections and open doors for opportunities that someone wouldn’t have otherwise.  I sincerely hope the audience walks away from my talk inspired to try some of my suggestions and to be motivated to seek out their own professional passions.

It’s always exciting to visit my alma mater. My talk is at lunchtime in Room 114, but I’ll be in the law school starting around 11am and I’ll probably stick around until 3ish to chat with students in the rotunda.

Thank you to the Career Services Office at ASU Law for inviting me to do this. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

More Unsolicited Advice for Law Grads in Professional No Man’s Land

Empty Montreal Apartment by Reuben Strayer from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Empty Montreal Apartment by Reuben Strayer from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Last week I put out a post about networking tips for new law school grads who are working on their job search while waiting on their bar results. A few days ago I got an email from a law grad who is in this professional no man’s land. She said she’s been trying to network with various lawyers via email and she hasn’t received a response from any of them.

Her email happened to come in while I had some down time and I responded with “give me a call right now.” I think that scared the hell out of her. But a few minutes later my phone rang, and I gave her some off-the-cuff suggestions. Here are some of the ideas I shared with her and some others I’ve thought of since then.

1.  Make sure your email has a clear call to action. Are you asking a question, are you requesting a meeting, what do you want? If you’re looking for advice, be clear about the type of advice you’re looking for. This student was asking for “any advice” which is pretty broad. I suggested she might want to rephrase it and ask the next lawyer “What’s one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your legal career?”

2.  Be thoughtful about your subject line. One of the challenges facing people who send unsolicited emails is inducing the recipient to open the message. Think about what it might take to get through that lawyer’s impulse to delete any email from someone they don’t know.

3.  Ask your career services office what lawyers comes to their events. Those lawyers have a track record of wanting to meet and help law students so they’ll likely help new grads too.

4.  Tap into you network and ask a lawyer you know to introduce you to a specific person you want to meet that they know. You can also ask your contacts if the know the type of lawyer you want to me – i.e., a lawyer who does probate work at a small firm.

5.  Look for lawyers who are active on social media, teach CLEs, and blog. I suspect these lawyers are more likely to talk to strangers via email.

6.  Connect with lawyers you want to meet on social media and look for mutual interests. This could be your “in” with them. For example, if you’re a runner and a lawyer you want to meet is also a runner, ask them how they balance the demands of their job with their training schedule.

7.  Social media could also give you a hook to get into their good graces. For instance, I’ve been following The Namby Pamby online since law school, which included posts about his preferred snacks. If he wasn’t an anonymous lawyer, and I lived in the same city and wanted to meet him, I would send him an email that said, “Can I have 15 minutes to bring you a box of Cheez-its and ask what a typical day is like for you?”

Being in professional No Man’s Land is hard. You may send out dozens of emails before you get a response. Focus on quality, not quantity. And don’t forget about the value of following up. The person may miss your first message in the shuffle of a busy day but your second message may peak their interest or remind them that they meant to respond to you.

And as this one recent law grad learned, if you send me an email, I’ll probably respond. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+, and/or YouTube.

Unsolicited Advice for Law Students: Expand Your Network Beyond Lawyers

Photo by Sarah (Rosenau) Korf from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Photo by Sarah (Rosenau) Korf from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

When I was in law school, the career service office did a good job of regularly having events that brought different types of lawyers to the school to meet students. I’m actually going to a new student/alumni event at my law school this week. (Yes, I’ll be wearing my signature Legal Rebel high tops.) A lot of firms also hosted mixers at their offices and invited law students – usually 1Ls – to visit at the beginning of each year.

Meeting local lawyers is a great way to learn about different areas of practice, the local legal industry, and to build a network of contacts that can help you find internships and a job after graduation. These will hopefully be people who will eventually refer work to you, but if they’re in the same area of practice, they’ll only refer cases that they can’t take or don’t want to take.

Many law schools don’t stress this, but it’s imperative that you have a life outside of law school – for personal and professional reasons.  This is especially true if you plan to live where you’re going to school after you graduate.

1. It’s important to remember what typical life is like. From what I can tell, the lifestyle of a law student or lawyer is not normal.

2. You’ll need things in your life that help you stay balanced and healthy – recreation, hobbies, exercise, spiritual life, etc.

3. Get involved in the community that you think will be your future clients. Understand what their lives are like – on a professional and personal level. And don’t “network” in the shake hands/exchange cards kind of way. Form real friendships with these people. This is your community – be part of it. Someday you may be in the running to become a partner or you may open your own firm and you’ll want a strong network of connection to build your book of business.

4. You never know where you’re going to discover a niche. You may become the go-to lawyer for football fans who need help with their child support arrangements or members of your church who get in car accidents. I never would have considered flash mob law as a career path until I got involved in the flash mob community.

5. Lawyers are everywhere. It may be easier to meet a lawyer at a legal networking event, but you’re more likely to form a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with one if share mutual interests. Some of my best lawyer contacts have come from introductions made by my non-lawyer friends. One of my favorite fellow lawyers is a guy I met at the dog park. We both have basset hounds.

One more thing – as you network with people, you’re going to need a way to keep track of your contacts. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a stack of business cards of people you met once and after a few months you won’t remember who’s who to do any effective follow up. You can probably make due with a spreadsheet, but I recommend getting a contact database like ACT! by Sage. It’s the only way I can keep track of my 1850+ contacts (only 333 of which are lawyers).

If you want to chat with me more about effective networking,  feel free to connect with me on TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+YouTube, or send me an email. Or if you really like me, tell your school you want them to be part of The Undeniable Law School Tour – happening in the spring of 2015.

Unsolicited Advice for Law Grads in Professional No Man’s Land

TransparencyCamp 2012 - #tcamp12 social network graph [1/2] by Justin Grimes from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

TransparencyCamp 2012 – #tcamp12 social network graph [1/2] by Justin Grimes from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I feel for new law school graduates who are in professional limbo. You’ve taken the bar exam but you won’t have results for weeks. You’re starting to look for jobs, but you know a lot of firms aren’t interested in you until you’ve gotten your law license.

If you haven’t secured a job, now is an optimal time to network with lawyers who practice in the type of firm you want to work at or in the area of law you hope to practice. If you started building some of these relationships prior to graduation, reach back out and invite these people to coffee or lunch now that you’ve re-surfaced after the bar exam. (Congrats on taking the bar exam, by the way. That thing’s a bitch!)

If you haven’t formed relationships with the lawyers you hope will become your professional friends and colleagues, there’s no better time to start conversations with them. You want to be top of mind when they hear that their firm or a friend’s firm has an opening for a new associate.

I got a painfully awkward email from a law grad in No Man’s Land this past weekend. I know how hard it is to try to strike up a conversation from nothing but there are ways to make it easier. His email inspired me to share some suggestions to help him and others be more effective when trying to network online.

1.  Start the email with “Dear Mr./Miss.” I will tell you to call me “Ruth” in my response but it’s a sign of respect and decorum to start out by calling the person by their title and last name, bonus points if you know that I am a Captain in Starfleet.

2.  Don’t ask for a job in the first email. Unless the firm is actively hiring, don’t ask about job openings or say that you want to work for me. You want to be building friendships, not working the legal job phone tree. Ideally, you want to build a network of friends, who happen to be lawyers with similar interests, who will come to you when they hear of an opening, not the other way around.

3.  Tell me where you went to law school. If you don’t say what school you graduated from, I’ll assume you’re ashamed of it and I’ll wonder what else you’re hiding.

4. If you tell me you’re “keenly interested” in an area of law I practice, bolster that statement with information about classes you took on the subject, work experience, or even books, blogs, or situations you’ve followed – something that shows your statement is sincere.

5.  Finish your LinkedIn profile. Before I respond to your email, I will look you up on LinkedIn. Make sure your profile at least has a decent photo of you, states where you went to law school, and any internships, clinics, or clubs you were involved in. It’s ok if it doesn’t say what type of law you’re interested in – I know lots of grads will take any job they can get. It would be great if you could get recommendations from your internship and clinic supervisors, but that’s not always possible.

6.  If you’re on Twitter and the person you want to meet is on Twitter, follow them and look for opportunities to converse with them. Ditto for LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. Feel free to connect with me on TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+, and/or YouTube.

When you send an unsolicited email, ask for a meeting with the person – coffee, lunch, or even just a 20-minute visit or video chat. (If I do coffee with you, I’m probably giving up at least an hour of my day so often times a short visit or video chat is preferred for a first conversation.) If you’re interested in an area of law they practice, ask about what a typical day/week of work is like. Ask them what kind of life they have outside of work – that may open the door to talk about mutual interests/hobbies. Afterwards, send a thank you note and do some type of follow-up within thirty days – send a useful article or just chat with them on social media.

If you’re interested in resources to supplement your job search, I recommend the following books:

I don’t envy anyone who is in post-bar exam No Man’s Land. It was a stagnant time in my life where my professional future was in limbo until I had bar results. I hope you’re enjoying your down time and building towards your professional future.

Guest Posts

Legal Rebel Photoshoot 2012 by Don McPhee

Legal Rebel Photoshoot 2012 by Don McPhee

I love writing. I’m grateful to have been invited to write guest blog posts and articles for a variety of publications. Please contact me if you are interested in having me write an original post or article for your organization.

Here are the posts and articles I have written to date.

In The News

Happy New Year 2010! by Eustaquio Santimano

Happy New Year 2010! by Eustaquio Santimano

I’ve had the pleasure of being a source for a variety of publications and news stories. Please contact me if you want my two cents on a topic, particularly social media law and flash mob law. Here are the publications that have mentioned me or used me as a source to date.

Happy Birthday Carter Law Firm!

Raul's Birthday Cake by lokate366 from Flickr

Raul’s Birthday Cake by lokate366 from Flickr

January 4, 2013 will mark the 1-year anniversary of Carter Law Firm. It’s been an amazing year. Some much has happened since the day I sent off my paperwork to the Arizona Corporation Commission and opened my firm’s bank accounts. I’ve learned so much about what it takes to be an effective business owner. Here are some of the key lessons I’ve learned.

1. Networking Can Be A Full-Time Job.
As a solo practitioner I am my business, so when I’m not doing work for my clients, I need to be out there promoting my business and networking with other business owners and potential new clients. I can easily attend 2-4 networking events a week. Networking Phoenix is a wonderful resource for networking opportunities in the Phoenix area. I used it a lot in my early days to learn about the chambers of commerce and other business groups in my area.

Early on, I went to every event I could attend. I learned that it takes a while to find my niches and watering holes where I could find clients and referral sources. I was pleased to become a member of Local First Arizona. It is a great group to meet awesome business owners and they have wonderful seminars.

2. Ask for Help.
There’s no reason for anyone in business to feel like they have to tackle any problem alone. I’ve found there are lawyers and business owners who will share their experiences, provide resources, and be a sounding board whenever I needed it. During the early days of my firm, I was on a first name basis with the state bar’s ethics hotline because I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. I’m glad I’ve been able to pay it forward by sharing my experiences with other lawyers and business owners.

One thing I’ve learned as a business owner is that things are always changing so it’s impossible to know everything. It’s important to stay humble and teachable. And there are always new people to meet and connections to build.

3. Go After What You Want.
I’ve had to learn to be professionally bold as a business owner and to go after the experiences I want. If there’s a conference you want to speak at – apply. If you want to write a book – do it. If there’s someone you want to meet – send them an email or call them up. Just because you’re the new kid in town, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer.

Another thing I’ve learned is you’ll never know how great you can be unless you try. Don’t fear success and don’t sell yourself short just because you have a new business.

I couldn’t be happier about my first year of business. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make it such a huge success. I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.

You can connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Carter Law Firm is Starting an Email Newsletter

Letters Never Sent by tnarik from Flickr

This has been on my to-do list for months and I’m finally making it a priority – the firm is starting its newsletter this month.

The goals of my firm’s monthly newsletter are to be short, relevant, and useful. Each edition will address one timely topic and provide updates from the blog and my speaking schedule. It may take me a few months to figure out the best days and times to do my mailings, but you should only get one email a month.

Will my newsletter have a shameless plug for my book? Of course! But I promise it will not be the main content. This newsletter is designed to offer helpful tips and suggestions to my subscribers, not to boost my book sales. If that’s a side effect, it’s just a bonus.

So how can you subscribe? It’s easy – you can subscribe to the newsletter here. Please note you have to add yourself to my mailing list. I will not add you without your explicit request and consent. One of my pet peeves is meeting a new person at a networking event, exchanging business cards, and finding myself added to their newsletter mailing list the next day without consent. I promise not to spam you or to sell my mailing list to third parties.

The first edition of the newsletter is scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday, November 28th. Please subscribe now if you’re interested in receiving it.

You can connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Social Media Policies That Every Company Needs

Texting by Joi Ito

Texting by Joi Ito

This post was originally published on The Undeniable Ruth in January 2011. 

Last weekend I attended a talk by Kade Dworkin to business students on social media strategies for companies. Kade seems to have read every book on this topic and knows the heavy hitters in this area. He suggested that every company have two social media policies.

Social Media Policy for Employees
Is an employee allowed to say who their employer is on their blog? What about their Twitter profile? Is there anything wrong with an employee tweeting out, “Grrr…some days I hate my job” or “My clients are making me crazy?” If there are no rules about what employees can and can’t say online when they’re on their own time, you really can’t get mad at them for what they say, unless there is a blatant violation of client confidentiality or a disclosure of a trade secret. It’s disturbing that only 29% of employers have social media policies. Being active on social media sites is part of doing business today, and if you don’t have a social media policy for employees, you’re asking for trouble.

Social Media Crisis Response Policy
I had never heard this before, but it makes perfect sense. In the past, a company had more time before a bad review is disseminated via newspapers and word of mouth. Now, a bad review can be spread across the internet in a matter of minutes. While a company should hope and work towards providing exceptional goods and services all the time, there will always be individuals who are not happy. When that happens, it’s critical that the company has a plan in place on how it will respond. The company should already have action plans for dealing with the worst case scenarios that might occur. Additionally, Kade suggested that whoever is in charge of social media should have a strong relationship with the company’s legal department to avoid any major missteps.

Recall the fiasco that occurred after Amy’s Baking Company got a bad review on Yelp. The main issue wasn’t that a customer was unhappy, but that the owner did a horrible job responding to the bad review. It’s hard for an owner to get a bad review about their staff and service, and it’s critical that the response be one that attempts to resolve the problem privately and show that the company is customer-focused. In this case, the owner’s response caused irreparable harm to their and their restaurant’s reputation. Many people who read the review and the owner’s response said that they will never patronize that restaurant in the future. I have never been to Amy’s and now given the choice, I’ll go somewhere else.

Kade also suggested that companies never let an intern be in charge of social media because it’s important that whoever is in charge is someone who can make decisions on the fly to resolve problems. This should occur within 30 minutes, not in a few days. A fast and effective response can do as much to bolster a company’s reputation as providing exceptional service.