“Denied!” Why Registering for a Trusted Community Can Be a Bit Like Wayne’s World

by Mike Mintz on September 30, 2009 · 0 comments

in Martindale-Hubbell Connected,Uncategorized

Anyone who remembers the iconic, 1990′s Saturday Night Live sketch Wayne’s World, knows that when the host Wayne Campbell says “denied!” it is really just the start of some rock music fueled misadventure usually involving Queen, a roll of licorice, and a Gremlin (the car – not a demonic little creature – those were Mike Meyer’s later movies involving a talking donkey) .  Well here at Martindale-Hubbell Connected when a registrant receives a “denial email” they should know that it is a call for more information, the start of a digital, verification fueled adventure that involves email follow up instead of licorice; I know, Wayne’s misadventure sounds more fun, but this important step seeks to get needed information to verify your registration and get you into the community.

One of the prime differentiators of Martindale-Hubbell Connected from other professional and social networking networks is that we validate every user’s registration to provide a trusted community for our members.  We find that by doing so the conversations are more genuine, lawyers and other legal professionals feel more comfortable participating, and the tone of the community remains professional (some stragglers may get through, but the community management team and community conscience usually weeds out bad posters pretty quickly).

The Process. Without giving away too many of our tricks, I’d like to give a short primer about our manual validation process: how we verify registrations that don’t pass the automated system.  I will attempt to touch on three aspects of this process: how does someone hit manual validation, what we do with your data after this happens, and why does it matter?

People generally hit manual validation for the following reasons:

  1. Provided a personal email address from a generic domain (Gmail, AOL, Comcast, etc.) – one of the primary ways our system validates user registration is by matching the role chosen, the organization, and the email domain to information in our database.  So if you are an in-house counsel from Apple, but choose to use your Mobile Me email (domain *.me) instead of your company email, you will likely need to be validated.  The same goes for law students who do not use their *.edu address.
  2. Choosing the wrong role – the role you choose determine the confidential group you get put into (we have over 15-confidential role-based groups) and in some cases, the site permissions your receive.   It is very important you choose the right role.  Someone who says they are an law firm lawyer, but the organization they choose is an accounting firm, and the email they use is a Yahoo account is going to hit manual validation.
  3. Choosing an old organization – this happens a lot with lawyers in transition.  If you worked for a major firm 2-months ago, but are now in transition the instinct is to put your previous firm as your organization.  But since you are likely using a personal email address and putting an organization you are no longer associated with, the data will not match up and you will hit manual validation.  The best thing to do in this situation is put “in transition” or “looking for work” under organization.  You still may hit validation, but it will be picked up much quicker by our registration teams than if you put your previous organization.

What happens during manual validation?

  1. The registration is given to a team of specialist who try to verify your data against a series of manual checks as dictated by a carefully chosen work-flow process.
  2. Usually they can resolve discrepancies and then send an approval link.  In some cases, the work-flow permits for an auto-denial/more information message to be sent.  If the registration doesn’t fall into either of these two buckets then it gets bubbled up to the community management team
  3. Once it hits our team we go through the information provided and check it against outside websites such as state bar number searches or company website directories.  The goal is to find a quick resolution to the information discrepancy and get the potential member in the community.  If we can’t do that then we will send the denial/more information needed email.  The quicker the potential member responds the quicker we can resolve and get them registrered.

Why it matters?

  1. Our members can trust that people on the network are who they say they are.
  2. We can do direct outreach to new members by establishing early relationships with them in the exercise of validating their identity (we can also point out helpful resources on the site if they ask).  I’ve had quite a few connections come out of the manual validation process.
  3. Having complete and accurate information is helpful the individual user.  Alin Wagner said it in our webinar back in August, to have an effective profile “start building it yesterday.”  Registering with accurate and current data is the first step to building this profile (the rest is adding a picture, bio details, announcements, and connections!).

I hope that this post about our processes is helpful to current and potential members alike.  Please know that we are building the Connected community for you and want it to be a trustworthy place where like-minded professionals can collaborate on real issues.  Party on.

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