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Ed Poll
  Week of April 1, 2008

Should You Have "Friends"?

In February I attended the ABA Tech Show in Chicago, and I was again amazed at how law and technology have developed such a symbiotic relationship. At the show, my tech-savvy friend (in the true and traditional sense), Lisa Solomon, took several photographs and posted them on Facebook, the highly-publicized social networking site where virtual "friends" can share ideas and images with people they have never met.
Facebook gets the attention in the social networking craze, but for professionals, LinkedIn, on which you invite other business associates to be part of your contact network, seems to be a better option. On LinkedIn, if you have an interest in marketing services to banks, for example, you can look at the users linked to you and to others and readily identify any number of potential contacts. This is networking without boundaries - a "one degree of separation" interaction that may save you from having to make a cold call.
Facebook and LinkedIn are, of course, available to the world at large. But as social networking advances, there are ways to be more selective in the online "friends" you have. Tom Mighell, chair of this year's Tech Show, provided a good example with his recent article in Law Practice Magazine. Tom wrote that the State Bar of Texas has rolled out its own social networking site for Texas Bar members only and more than 2,200 lawyers have joined it. Because members sign up using their Bar numbers, the closed network helps to minimize many of the concerns that exist with public sites like Facebook. Members have their own home pages, can add "friends" to their network, and converse and share information with them electronically.
There are other ways to do this sort of thing. Online listserv discussion groups of lawyers, like the ABA's "Solosez" listserv for sole practitioners that has nearly 3,000 members, provide another example. Such tools are a way to ask questions, provide answers, and generally raise your profile, all among a group of "friends" who can be highly beneficial for the growth of your practice.

Ed Poll

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Personal Commentary
There were many new ideas for practice improvement at the ABA TechShow in Chicago. One very important lesson I've learned over the years of attending conferences and trade shows is to make a list of those ideas triggered by the show each day that I believe will make the greatest impact on my business. At the end of each day, I then prioritize the list of new ideas and "to dos." At the end of the conference, I'll integrate each day's lists into one new list and prioritize the items on this one new list. This helps keep me from being inundated by too many great ideas, the net result of which is to be "frozen" and not do anything. By selecting the top three or four items, focusing on their achievement, I tend to get more accomplished with greater benefit to my business. Moving forward one step at a time does get things done. As Confucius said, a long journey starts with the first step.
Best wishes,
Ed Poll

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Ed Poll

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