How Lawyers Can Work Smarter: Three Tips for Networking Old Tasks

by Mike Mintz on July 8, 2010 · 0 comments

in connected

This isn’t another “lawyers should use social media” post.  You’ve read a bunch of those, and frankly, I’m tired of writing them.  If you don’t want to use new technology and networking tools to do old tasks faster and more efficiently, I understand.  Making changes can be hard.  There’s a learning curve and then the setup, not to mention figuring out how to stop doing the old time-suck activities.  It can be a lot of work changing the way you do things, but the reward from making a switch to more efficient and effective tools can mean the difference between wasting time and making money.

We recently rolled out a redesign of Connected (a new name too – capitalization police, I plead the 5th).  All of the changes made to the site were based on user feedback from lawyers and legal professionals like yourself.  The developers worked to make everything much easier to use and turn the network into a trusted tool for the legal profession.  Having been in the community for two weeks now, I wanted to share three features I really like in the new system and how to use them to work smarter , replacing old tasks with new network tools.

#1 – Mirror Blogging AKA Syndication

If your law firm or business is already blogging then hats off to you.  In my opinion, there is no more relevant way to reach customers and clients than posting useful information on a blog that relates to your business.  One of the benefits subscribers can enjoy in Connected is mirror blogging.  Also known as syndication, mirror blogs allow a user to have posts from a blog outside of Connected appear inside the network, either in a group or on their profile.  In Old Connected you needed to go through the community management team to get set up.  Now, you can do it yourself following these simple steps:

Click “Manage My Blog” Under “I Want To”

If you are a group owner then you will see an option in the group to Manage My Blog.  Click on it to get to the next screen.  If you are not a group owner, then you need to become friends with the group owner (something you should do anyway) and ask them to help you set up the feed.

Mirrored Feeds

Next you will enter the Dashboard (this looks different than Connected, but don’t worry, you’re still in Kansas).  Hit the tab “Configure” and then “Mirrored Feeds.”

Then click on “Add New Feed,” give it a title, and paste the feed address in the space provided.  To find the feed address, you will usually click on the RSS icon (shown to the left), which gives you a URL with the word “feed” in it.  This is what allows you to syndicate the posts to Connected and other places.

The mirrored feed will then appear on the group blog.  This is a way for lawyers to syndicate content without having to go through the trouble of reposting it in different places.  If you already have a blog, a firm newsletter, or regular articles you publish on your law firm website, this can be a terrific way of having more people see that content.  Also, by having it appear in Connected it reaches a wider audience including corporate counsel and other clients who trust the content the find on Martindale.

Add New Feed

#2 – Favorites

Lawyers do not have a lot of time to search for what they need.  The more things that are within reach the better.  That’s why the redesign of Connected focused on making everything available with less clicks.  One feature that streamlines everything is “Favorites.”

This feature lets you mark groups, blogs, individual posts from blogs, forums, and media uploads, and even people to your favorites.  Doing so gives you quick access to them through a drop down on your Home Page along with intuitive icons to tell you at a glance what the favorite is (for example a blog post icon is a word bubble with a “B” in it).  Here’s what the favorites pane looks like:

Track Lawyers and Law Firms

Now here’s where it really gets cool.  You can track lawyers and law firms too.  Let’s say you do a search for a law firm, in this case let’s use Jones, Hirsch, Connors & Bull P.C. a New York law firm a growing aviation practice.

Add Firm to Favorites (insert comments)

In the next screen I will see an option to Add Jones Hirsch to my Favorites.  I click “Add to Favorites” and a pop up asks me which firm office I want to add (if there are multiple offices on file), allows me to leave a comment about the firm, and asks me to enter a code to verify that I am not some spam robot.  The process is quick, and once the firm is added I have it’s data at my disposal.

Easy Access to Firm Data and Comments

Once it is added to my favorites I have easy access to the firm data and my comments about it from anywhere on Connected.  See the screenshot below of how I can pull this up even when comparing firms side by side.  If I am a law firm lawyer, this feature is extremely helpful in researching opposing counsel or comparing local counsel in foreign jurisdictions.  For corporate counsel it provides a way of keeping tabs on firms you may consider hiring.

#3 – Recent Activity: a quick way to check in

Lawyers who have a few minutes to pop onto a network want to see what’s new and go.  The redesigned Connected puts heavy emphasis on making everything clear at a glance.  A look at the Recent Activity section of the user profile shows that it is set up like Facebook’s Wall feature, giving you a quick snapshot of what your Connections are doing and what’s happening in your groups.  The best part though is how easy and quick it is to share your own links and news.

Have a law firm article you just published that you want to show to your network of 100 contacts on Connected?  Just toss a link to it in your Status Update bar and share.  The link will appear on the Wall of all of your contacts (quick tip: you should connect to as many people as possible on Connected – your colleagues in your firm, former classmates, and fellow group members.  Once your network reaches at least 25 you will find the community a much better resource).  The more people you are connected to the more people will see this on their own profile when they check in.

What are you favorite new features?  How are you using Connected professionally?

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