Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to get the Networking Shyness Monkey Off Your Back!

By Rose Strong

Do you consider yourself shy? I have always been a bit shy in certain situations, although I’m good at hiding it. It takes tremendous work on my part to not exhibit shyness, which I consider to be my least favorite character trait.

According to the American Psychological Association, “Shyness is the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people. Severely shy people may have physical symptoms like blushing, sweating, a pounding heart or upset stomach; negative feelings about themselves; worries about how others view them; and a tendency to withdraw from social interactions.”

I have all these symptoms. Not all at the same time, of course, but certain circumstances will drum up the butterflies in the stomach, cause me to break out in a sweat or fumble my words in the midst of trying to have intelligent conversation.

Like many other shy people, I can handle a one-on-one meeting. Job interviews aren’t typically a problem and neither is having a cup of coffee with an associate. However, networking in a large group can strike the utmost fear in me and bring on anxiety.


Determined to defeat the monkey on my back, I’ve done some research to see what others suggest for a way to better manage my shyness.

I could start on Twitter. John Muscarello tells us in his blog, Start Networking Today, that he makes it a point to contact folks on Twitter and shares a short introduction before arranging to meet for coffee. This sounds like a great way to get my feet wet.

CIO.com offers 12 steps for overcoming shyness in connection with professional networking. Meridith Levinson’s article entitled How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People, suggests that a shy person start small and seek familiarity at events with those they already may know. This, she says, will allow them to feel more comfortable when approaching new people.

Levinson notes that shy people tend to meet someone and stay with them through the entire function. She suggests that we ask the people we are with if they know anyone else and if they would be comfortable making introductions. This reminds me of how LinkedIn works. We can all use it to ask others to make introductions to people we want to meet. Once an introduction is made, then we can follow Muscarello’s lead by meeting for coffee when the situation warrants.

Maya Townsend wrote an article for Inc.com’s blog; The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Networking. She offers interesting tips. One that stuck with me was to not have a goal to amass a huge online network, but to think about your network as a group you can depend upon; connect with them not only when you need them, but as they need you.

There are lots of articles out there for shy people who need tips on networking, so it’s not just an isolated few of us out who feel awkward and shaky when having to confront our inner demons. People make a living helping those of us who have these issues. Kim Monaghan, a career coach and syndicated columnist for TheWorkBuzz.com, shares a list of tips for anyone trying to break into networking  for its professional gains without the flinch-factor.

There are several common themes to take from the experts.

Be who you are – Being the life of the party or the extrovert isn’t needed for networking. Being your authentic self will bring you more mileage.

Be prepared – Always work on some questions you may wish to ask others and be ready for the questions when they come to you. “What are your latest accomplishments in your current job?” or “What are you working on these days?” are pretty typical questions. Take time to write down a few of your latest accomplishments and practice saying them out loud. But more importantly, always turn the conversation around to be about the other person and how you might be able to help them.

Get out of your comfort zone – This doesn’t mean we have to be someone else and jump into a networking event as the most congenial attendee, but it behooves us shy folks to make an effort to meet new people. Set a goal to meet a minimum of two new people at your next social event. I’ve heard it said that it’s not the quantity of the relationships but the quality that matters.

Be genuine and generous – Being interested in others is the first step to gaining a foothold in a new relationship. Shy people often feel we don’t have much to bring to the table at a networking event, but offering someone your attention is seen as both genuine and generous. This is where questions will pay off!

Follow up or say thank you – It is especially nice to send out a thank you note or other handwritten note as a follow up. Let the person know that you are there to be of service. And don’t forget to connect with everyone you meet in person online on LinkedIn. It is a great way to keep in touch with people you meet and one of the most widely used professional networking tools in the country.

Feel free to share any tips on how you have overcome shyness. You’ll be helping me, of course, and countless others.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Download Your Dividends - The Apps to Help With Financial Success

By: Maggie Quinn

You tried to avoid it, but it showed up like a bad penny. It's tax day.

April 15 creeps up on us every year, but if your check to Uncle Sam is larger than you expected, now is the perfect opportunity
to start fresh with financial goals for the rest of the year. 

Ben Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” Though that still seems to stand true, today we have
tools to manage personal finances that Benny lacked.

Mint.com

This free app, available for Android and iOS users, is the overwhelming favorite among tech and financial blogs. Simply add your bank, credit card, home loan and investment account information and Mint creates a budget that is easily tracked and edited. The app also makes recommendations for areas in which users can save and warns when accounts are low. With bank-level security, Mint alerts users to any suspicious transactions with text messages and emails.

Expensify

Did you get an eye roll when you handed your accountant a
box of expense receipts? If so, it’s time to use Expensify. Tracking business expenses can be difficult, especially when traveling. With this mobile app, users can create expense reports through a photo log of receipts. Additionally, there is an option to connect most major credit cards including American Express, Chase, Discover and Bank of America to automatically generate expense reports as they occur.

LearnVest

Like Mint, LearnVest offers suggestions as to where to cut spending by looking at your accounts and spending habits. It takes this concept to the next level by offering access to Certified Financial Planners in three programs.

Betterment

Betterment is an excellent tool for those who would like to begin investing but have little idea as to where and how to start. Its step-by-step program helps optimize portfolios by first teaching users about the markets and then directing them as to where to invest based on their financial goals and risk tolerance.

As with any app, these are only worth the space on your phone if you actually take the time to use them. In this case, it will actually pay off. But before you start clicking through the AppStore, give a sigh of relief that you are done (until next year), enjoy some of the tax day freebies. Adopt these habits now, and you'll be better prepared for next year's visit from Tax Man Max - who by the way, is voiced by my uncle. Let's hope his advice manifests in a nice tax return!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Technology & Maturity – Closer than you think!

By: Kim Tarasiewicz

When anyone mentions the technology generation, our minds go right to teens and twentysomethings. But don’t rule out the older generation when using technology to market your product or service. 

With their kids grown and out of the house, today’s Baby Boomers are living longer and are willing to spend on luxuries. More and more, this group is becoming Web-savvy and technology driven, either from remaining in the workforce longer and keeping up with technologies or sometimes out of necessity to keep in touch with family and friends.

While in their late 60s, my parents decided to purchase smartphones so they could keep in touch with their grandchildren. They now check email on their phones, download apps and use tablets while traveling. This trend is quickly becoming the norm; according to Pew Research, 50 percent of seniors are using social media. Sure, there are seniors that don’t know how to log onto a computer – but do you want to miss marketing to those who do?


Email use by Americans 65 and older is at a whopping 88 percent and this group may very well have more time to read your message. Social media also has captured the attention of seniors as almost half of those using the Internet are on Facebook. These numbers most likely will increase as this population ages and continues to use more technology. The trick is identifying the right mix of marketing for this group while keeping the other target clients in focus as well.

Review your marketing plan to see what age groups currently receive your messaging. Younger audiences use mobile apps and social media regularly, so those tactics should be included in your plan if targeting that segment of the population. The mid-age range group is using a variety of technologies while the eldest group is on email, at the very least. If your budget allows, choose a mix of several methods to reach your audience such as text messages, advertisements in demographically chosen publications and newsletters. Supplement these items using social media, but be sure to target the messaging - tweet to the younger audience, which spends a lot of time on Twitter, but post a message on Facebook if trying to appeal to the older age group.

If your company has an electronic newsletter, consider creating several versions, which is an inexpensive way to appeal to your different audiences. Your website should hold Frequently Asked Questions that relate to all age groups and it should be kept current to engage clients. Post relevant videos on YouTube and add them to your website. Another way to reach different age groups is to use technology that identifies very specific audiences such as Pandora which can identify the exact age of its users and send specific messages aimed at that group.  

The key is to be sure your message reflects the values of the company and how you will meet the needs of your clients. Your clients may be aging, but they still see themselves as young, and with technology, they can keep up with current trends and feel young. Keep up with them as they grow old and you will keep them as clients. Who knows? They may even “share” your information with their grandchildren while on Facebook.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Discussing Inter-Generational Communication at the Legal Marketing Association

By Gina F. Rubel

During my presentation at the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in Orlando this week, I had the opportunity to speak alongside Kim Huggins, CEO of K HR Solutions, Inc. on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and the Four Generations in the Workplace. We spoke about how legal marketers can harness their EQ and an understanding of generational similarities and differences to be more affective managing their marketing teams and getting the lawyers they serve to embrace marketing and new technologies.

One of my favorite parts of the program was when we broke out into groups to talk about how we, as marketers, could handle various scenarios.

Scenario 1: Lawyer Doesn't Know What a Podcast Is

You have landed an interview for one of your senior attorneys with a well-known online publication that also records and podcasts the interviews. This outlet reaches your firm’s target audience. How can you use emotional intelligence and generational understanding to successfully solicit buy-in from the attorney who doesn’t know what a podcast is?


Audience suggestions included:

  • Have a reference point; provide examples to demonstrate the reach the podcast will have and the relevant demographics it will reach
  • Explain how the attorney can repurpose the video and how it enhances the law firm brand 
  • Demonstrate value and explain limited costs 
  • Share the benefits - i.e. “what’s in it for me”
  • Provide the attorney with case studies of other lawyers who have successfully leveraged podcasts in order to demonstrate peer validation 
  • Play off of the attorney's competitive spirit by giving examples of competitors using podcasts 
  • Make the attorney comfortable by providing coaching and media training so he or she is confident when using the medium
Scenario 2: Managing Partner Believes all Law Firm Business Comes From Referrals and Word-of-Mouth

You have been asked why the firm’s website “doesn’t show up” in search engine rankings. You have decided that one way to increase SEO is to have all of the attorneys create robust LinkedIn profiles, take ownership and complete their Avvo profiles and join JD Supra. How can you use emotional intelligence and generational understanding in your law firm to successfully solicit buy-in from the managing partner who believes that all of the business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals?

The attendees who worked on this scenario almost all decided that the managing partner was a Baby Boomer. Here's how they decided to tackle this opportunity:
  • Have an agenda to meet with the managing partner to discuss SEO 
  • Define what SEO is - many don't understand the term 
  • Demonstrate the value of SEO and why it matters
  • Educate the managing partner on how to accomplish SEO 
  • Demonstrate the ROI of various platforms including LinkedIn, Avvo and JD Supra
  • Feed into the competitive nature of lawyers by highlighting what other lawyer influencers are doing
  • Share successes internally 
  • Utilize engagement tools 
  • Demonstrate competitive intelligence 
  • Provide time management resources and tools 
  • Give the managing partner an action plan 
  • Follow up with the managing partner to secure buy-in
One of the things I enjoyed most about this program was hearing from the smart attendees, all of whom are in the trenches of legal marketing every day. We shared great ideas, we sometimes commiserated, and we always came up with ways to approach legal marketing more effectively.

If you want to follow our conversation, jump on Twitter and check out the hashtag #LMA14.

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