Here’s a little tip that I have been doing for years. Before I travel, I check my LinkedIn connections in the area where I’m going.  It helps remind me who I’m connected with and it gives me an excuse to catch up with an old friend or colleague.

Here’s my step-by- step method for pre-trip connection planning:

1. Go to LinkedIn’s Advanced Search page.  The link is in the upper right-hand corner, next to the search box.

2. Select the location where you’ll be, using a zip code, and a range (e.g., 50 miles) indicating that you’re looking for contacts within a certain distance of the zip code.  Depending on where you’re going, you’ll want to adjust this setting.

3. Decide who you want to connect with.  You can narrow your search by industry, members of LinkedIn Groups, and degrees of contacts.  I usually opt to filter out everyone except for my first degree connections. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Review the list and reach out.

Online (social media) connections are great, but there’s nothing like a good old face-to-face meet-up.  The nice thing about tools like LinkedIn is that they’re not only great for keeping in touch online, but they can facilitate an in-person meeting as well.

LinkedIn recently released a new feature, called Signal, that allows you to easily search all LinkedIn members’ Network Updates.   As LinkedIn says in its introductory video, below, this is a way to cast a professional net on the constant stream of Tweets and Updates, and use LinkedIn as a business intelligence dashboard.

On my brief review, this looks like it has potential to be very useful, and to make LinkedIn a more relevant player in the social networking universe.  The search is fast and surfaces what appears to be good content.  Just enter a search term in the “Search Updates” box above the Network Updates section:

The search results are interesting. Continue reading »

I’m a “social media evangelist.”  I encourage responsible use of social media.  I think that having a good LinkedIn profile, for example,  is important.  Since I often spread the good word, I often get questions about how to use various social media sites.

One question I get a lot is: “How do I get my picture from one website (e.g., my firm’s web page) to appear on my LinkedIn profile?”   Not rocket science.  I can practically do it in my sleep.

The first time someone asked me, I called them and walked them through the steps involved.  It took a few minutes.  No big deal.  I didn’t mind doing it once.

But when someone else asked me the same question, I kicked myself for not taking a few extra minutes to write it down and send it to them in an email.  So, I did.  Now, if a third person asked, I’d be ready and forward that email – so as to not reinvent the wheel.

The third time was déjà vu all over again.  I knew I had answered the question before.  I knew I was ready to answer it again.  But now I just had to find it.  It was somewhere in my rat’s nest of Outlook folders.  It took several minutes, but I found it and forwarded the answer along. Not horrible, but there had to be a better way.

That better way was a wiki.  I had learned my lesson.  The next time I would be ready.  I saved the instructions into a wiki page.  No more email folder hunting.   I knew it was in the wiki.  A quick search for “LinkedIn” would bring it up.

That next time was today.  The whole transaction took me about 20 seconds.

The goal is to do things once, then re-use what you’ve done.  It saves time and frustration, and allows you to provide faster and more consistent customer service.

How do you use wikis to make your life — and the lives of others — easier?

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

google-buzz-logoGoogle Buzz is barely out of the digital delivery room, so it may be a bit premature to start a meaningful review of the web’s newest baby.  But I’ll do it anyway.  Well, “meaningful” may be a bit of a stretch.  How about “cursory” or “preliminary?”

In case you are an under-rock dweller, here are the basics: Google announced a new web application called Google Buzz, which integrates with Google’s Gmail service.  There is also a Google Buzz mobile device application, which is accessible by pointing your mobile browser to www.buzz.google.com.  Here are some shots of how it looks on the iPhone:

iphone-buzz-2 iphone-buzz-3 iphone-buzz-1

Buzz is being rolled out over time, so if you don’t have it yet, don’t panic.  Be patient.

It’s impossible to resist a comparison to Twitter.  But, Buzz is more than just a Twitter clone.  It’s sort of a Frankenstein’s Monster of  web applications: part Twitter, part instant messenger, part email, part discussion forum, part social media aggregator, part rich media delivery tool, and part location-based social network.  Too much to cover here.

If you really want to understand it, your best bet is to watch this brief video:

You can also read this good article about it from the New York Times.

A few notes on the good and bad of Google Buzz…

The Good:

  • Google Buzz is integrated into it’s popular (176 million users strong) Gmail email service.  This means more of a centralized hub for this new pastiche of communication.  It also means that it won’t be ignored (like Google Wave? and Google Latitude?) because the Buzz link appears right under Gmail’s inbox link.
  • Integration with Twitter.  If you connect your Twitter account (also Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader) with Buzz, your tweets flow to your Buzz stream. Double your pleasure.
  • Integration with Google Reader.  Increasingly, Reader is becoming the filter from which I find interesting content on the web.  With Buzz, I can use the Reader “share” feature to send items right into my Buzz stream so others can enjoy the good content, as well.  You can follow me on Google Reader here.
  • Mobile access & LBSN features.  Google’s first swing at Buzz for mobile is impressive.  It shows a list view and a decent map view of nearby Tweets Buzzes (see pics above).  This will help Google overcome their failed attempt at LBSN (i.e., location-based social networking (see Google Latitude).  Lookout FourSquare?
  • The @ factor.  Like Twitter, you can direct a Buzz to a user by using the “at” symbol as a prefix to an email address.  So, to send someone  a Buzz, type @email_address@gmail.com in the Buzz box.

The Bad:

  • Direct messaging? As noted, there is an @ function, but it is not readily apparent whether there is a direct (private) message shortcut function (the equivalent of using the “d” in Twitter).  You can send a private message to “a small group of your closest friends,” (see the video) but doing so is just a tad cumbersome.  Shortcut, please.
  • Searching email also searches Buzz items.  Gmail’s ability to quickly search your email items is one of it’s best features.  As of this morning, search results included Buzz results.  Not good.  Google should be able to fix this (and there may already be a filter for it).  But the default search should exclude Buzz results, or Google should simply include a button to select the content to search.
  • Buzz to email.  Some users have already complained of being  inundated with email because Buzzes are going right into their inboxes (rather than into the separate Buzz location).  This is designed to happen when someone comments on your Buzz or sends you an “@ message” – so that you don’t miss it.  There should be an option to disable this feature.
  • Speaking of comments… everything in moderation, please.  This is not Twitter: people can comment on your Buzzes.  Sounds great, unless you follow someone like Robert Scoble or Pete Cashmore (of Mashable), then it’s WAY too much information.  A recent Buzz by Scoble elicited 100 “likes” and 145 comments.  Scrolling down through all those comments to the next Buzz took a while.  And I hate to say it, but a lot of those comments were meaningless blather.  Buzz needs a “show/hide” comments link (default view to hide) to avoid this.
  • Long posts: Again, this is not Twitter.  There is no 140 character limit on what you can Buzz about.  Scoble said he likes this, but I disagree.  Twitter has gotten us used to short messages.  140 characters may be too short, but I don’t want to read War and Peace in someone’s Buzz post.  Maybe there is a limit, but I couldn’t find it.
  • A butterfly?  (See the video) I get it, I get it: social butterfly.  But shouldn’t Google have used a bee or a hornet as the mascot?

As a preemptive strike, I’ll just say that the Google Buzz integration with Gmail had better not mess up my Gmail contacts!!!  There’s already enough frustration with that as it is.

That’s it – quick and dirty.  If you’re using Google Buzz, then let’s connect.  Find my Buzz information on my Google Profile.  I’ve also created a LinkedIn Group called Google Buzz where people can discuss it (in a less buzzy, old-school discussion- forum-type of way), so join that too.

So, what are your thoughts about Google Buzz?  Please comment below.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

The take away: Location-based social networking is about “assisted serendipity” – using technology to turn an otherwise chance encounter into a real business opportunity.

Location-based social networking (LBSN) applications are becoming quite popular.  They are not entirely new, however.  Here’s a nice list of LBSN sites – some of which have been discontinued, including the Google-owned Dodgeball (replaced by Google Latitude).  The most hyped LBSN app is Foursquare.  If you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, then you know that I’ve been experimenting with Foursquare for several weeks now.

location-locationWhat is a LBSN?

We’ve barely wrapped our heads around Twitter, and now we’re expected to adopt yet another new-fangled social media phenomenon.  To help explain why you might want to do this, I’ll use Foursquare as an example. Here’s how it works:

Much like any social network, Foursquare members start by creating profiles and adding friends or contacts.  But unlike most SN sites, Foursquare is meant to be used on the go – from a mobile device (I use Foursquare’s iPhone App, but there are apps for BlackBerry and Android too).  Using a mobile device’s GPS or cell tower triangulation technology, Foursquare suggests nearby locations — perhaps a bar or museum or sporting event venue — where a user can “check-in.”

Users can view details about nearby places, including tips left by previous Foursquare users (e.g., “Try the bacon cheeseburger…”).  Users can also see who else has checked-in recently.  Local businesses take advantage of location-based data to help lure customers with special offers.

tasti-dFor example, on a recent trip to The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York, the nearby Tasti D-Lite shop “noticed” I was there and offered a discount on an ice cream cone if I stopped by.

There is also a “game” aspect to Foursquare.  Users collect “badges” and points for various activities like checking in to ten or more locations in a week, or for checking in to different types on places.  My favorite is the “Jobs” badge (awarded for checking in to three or more Apple Stores), which entitles you to a free “iHoverboard” if you show the badge to an Apple Genius at the store.

Foursquare also lists the times and locations where your friends check in.  If you’re really in to it, you can get an alert every time someone checks in to any location (I don’t recommend this because it will drive you crazy – especially if your Foursquare friends are active users).

Finally, you can opt link your Foursquare account with your other social networks so that your Foursquare updates appear on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter stream.  Fair warning: this might irritate your Twitter followers and Facebook friends – especially if you’re an active user – because they will be inundated with messages like “Patrick just checked in at the Apple Store…” all day long.  Rather than setting Foursquare to automatically update your other networks, set it to prompt you to choose whether to do so on a case-by-case basis.

OK….so why would I want do that?

This is the same question that we asked about LinkedIn, then Facebook, then Twitter before millions of people signed up.  There are lots of theories about why we do this social networking stuff.  But do we need yet another social network; one that lets everyone know where we are – all the time?  Well, this may fall under the Steve Jobs category of “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Do you want to let everyone know where you are all the time?  Probably not.  But that’s not the question.  The question is: Would you like a unique opportunity to connect with your contacts — in real life?

Location-based social networking is not about restaurant recommendations, or discounted ice cream, or badges.  It’s about “assisted serendipity.”  Never before have we been able to help along a chance encounter, or to take advantage of an opportunity that we didn’t even know existed.

For example, let’s say you’re traveling and have some time to kill while you wait for your flight at the airport.  Little did you know, one of your contacts–a business prospect–is there too.  You might happen to run into your contact, but given the conditions (the size of the airport, the number of people, etc.) the chances are slim.  More than a mere catalyst that simply hastens an inevitable chemical reaction, a LBSN, like Foursquare can create an opportunity — turning a potential chance meeting into a sure thing.

So, will you use a LBSN application, or is it just too much too soon?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

“Location” Photo Credit: http://www.vegsource.com/talk/humor/messages/99895680.html

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Tuesday, February 3, 2009.   I was reluctant to call this “social networking” but the name persists.  They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference: Web 2.0: Best Practices for Online Networking Exhibit

  • Opportunities in online networking for attorneys
  • Re-energize the traditional, valuable art of networking with tightened budgets, time and resources
  • Growth areas, benefits and challenges of online networking
  • Best practices on selecting a network
  • Gaining the strategic advantage of an online network

Moderator:
Robert Ambrogi, Journalist

Panelists:
John Lipsey, Vice President, Corporate Counsel Services, LexisNexis
Vanessa DiMauro, CEO & President, Leader Networks
Eugene M. Weitz, Corporate Counsel, Alcatel-Lucent
Olivier Antoine, Counsel, Crowell & Moring

My friend and fellow KM guy, David Hobbie,  is also blogging this session on Caselines.

My notes form the session:

Not surprisingly, this session on packed.

Among business people, online networking and social media (SM) is a source of fear.

One survey said 15% of people in the legal industry are members of some sort of social networking (SN).  Another survey says that 59% of lawyers are members of some sort of SN.

Vanessa DiMauro finds that web 2.0 stuff is still new, but maturing.  SM is no longer about tools, but how to apply them and measure them and determine ROI.

John Lipsey – Martindale Hubbell is looking to transform from what it was (print-based lawyer listings) to what it will become (a more useful way for lawyers to fulfill their business needs). The new product is Martindale Hubbell Connected (MHC).  He likes the term “professional networking” rather than SN – me too. They have done a lot of research to figure out what lawyers want and need.

The MHC does not allow anonymous users – it authenticates so that the members have confidence that they know who they are communicating with.  The advantage that MH has is a HUGE database of information on lawyers that they can use to make and enhance connections.  They want to integrate into existing workflow.  This could include the connectors that InterAction (another LexisNexis product) has with LinkedIn.  [makes sense to me]

Olivier Antoine is a practicing attorney who gave his perspective about the value of SN.  It provides value to clients so that you can provide information about who knows who.

Eugene M. Weitz mentioned how he has 2 Blackberrys because he has a professional network and a social network.  He maintains these separately intentionally.  He wants to keep them separate.

The networks allow in house counsel to connect with those who they want to – among in-house counsel, for example.  They can discuss things that are important to them and collaborate within that group.

Bob Ambrogi questioned how Weitz is able to maintain two separate networks.  The investment in time is very difficult to justify.

[side note: while blogging this, I'm also watching Twitter, which is on fire with the #LTNY.  Doug Cornelius just wondered--on Twitter-- when MH Connected will be launched.  Mary Abraham, who was in the room, passed along the question and go the answer: Q1 this year.]

DiMauro says there are different social norms that come along with SN – much of the communication is transparent, so you need to be careful.

There was much discussion about networks of trusted people – this reminded me of the really nice ILTA online networking community that is used to connect and ask questions without the threat of vendors reading of contributing

Weitz stressed the need to maintain client confidentialities when participating in online networking communities.   Even asking a simple question or asking for a recommendation can disclose certain information that shouldn’t be disclosed.

Weitz says that this is no different than the type of communication by lawyers – only the vehicle has changed.  The bottom line is that lawyers haveto be as careful with SN sites as they are with all communications – and is some cases, more careful.

DiMauro noted that many other industries have adopted SM and SN.  The legal industry — which has been a late comer and fearful of it — can learn from these other industries.

An audience member asked about the value of LinkedIn.  Oliver gave an example about how he could see that five people from a company he pitched had looked at his profile after the pitch.  There is no other way to get that type of information.  Bob Ambrogi noted that LinkedIn is at least an online directory of business people on the web – the way Martindale Hubbell used to be.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Given the announcement of LinkedIn Applications this week, you may not have noticed the announcement last week about the addition of a news sharing feature that was added to LinkedIn Groups.  With this new feature, members of groups, like Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, for example, can share, discuss, and recommend news articles within groups.

Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals

Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals

To get to the news feature, simply select your group, and click on the News tab.  From there, you can see news submitted by group members, and you can submit an article yourself.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

What good is social networking if you can’t use it to get a recommendation from your contacts?

A friend recently asked me for a recommendation for an immigration lawyer in New York City. Although I’m a lawyer, I don’t personally know any immigration lawyers; but I thought that some of my social network friends might be able to point me in the right direction.

Twitter

My first thought was Twitter. About 125 people “follow” me (as LawyerKM) on Twitter [you can too!]. There are about 80 people who “follow” me on Twitter under my personal Twitter account [you can too! - email me at lawyerkm at gmail.com for details]. There is some duplication among followers, so, there’s not really over 200 prospective followers. My tweet was: “need an immigration lawyer in New York City – please @lawyerkm … with recommendations.

Then I thought about Facebook. I’ve got 90 contacts on Facebook. I personally know many (but not all) of my Facebook contacts. As a little background, I started using Facebook as a strictly professional networking platform; my profile was “all business.” As I became more comfortable with it, I loosened up and started adding more non-work related information, and personal friends; not just KM stuff. (On a KM-related note, I also started a Facebook group called Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, which you may join.) I reached out to my Facebook contacts by way of a status update, which said “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation. Anyone?”

What I thought would happen and what really happened were two very different things. Both Twitter and Facebook are very popular these days, and everyone is talking about them. My Twitter contacts are very active, and many of them are lawyers or in the legal industry. My Facebook contacts are pretty active, as well, but Twitter seems to have Facebook beat on the activity scale (this is a purely subjective observation).

Based on my Twitter contact types (law-related), I expected to instantly get dozens of recommendations from my Twitter contacts. I didn’t expect much from Facebook, however, because my contacts there are more diverse.

Surprise! In reality, I received no Twitter responses and a relative flood (no fewer than five) of Facebook responses – some within minutes, others within a few hours. Even more surprising was the quality of the responses. They were from real-life contacts (i.e. people I know) who actually used the lawyers that they recommended.

I passed the referrals along and my friend was pleased.

So, why did I get such good results on Facebook and bad results on Twitter? This, of course, is speculation, but these factors may have something to do with it.

Twitter's posting interface

The platforms – Twitter vs. Facebook Twitter is simple, but not so feature-rich. It basically allows you to post short (140 characters) messages for the world (or your followers) to see. Direct messaging to other Twitter members is another option. You can include links to web pages, but that’s about it. Your posts (or tweets) are listed in reverse chronological order. Since Twitter can only display so many tweets, the messages of the people you follow will be displaced by newer messages. So, with the really high rate of tweets out there (at least among the Tweeters I follow), you’re bound to miss a lot of posts – unless you keep a consistent eye on your Twitter account (or if you have those tweets fed to you via RSS for later consumption in an RSS reader). If your followers haven’t checked their Twitter accounts recently, they probably will have missed your latest posts.

Facebook tab menu

Facebook is a much more complex platform. There is more to it. People can share a lot more information about themselves. Work, school, hometown, religious, political, photos, etc. And this is key: there are non-linear, non-chronological connections on Facebook. Click on your home page and see your “news feed” – i.e., information about your Facebook friends. Check out their status updates, and their photos, too. It sucks you in. You’ll find yourself clicking around to see what’s going on with your friends. What groups have they joined? [My favorite, other than my own, is the group "I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head," which has close to one million members.] You can also send Twitter-like updates to your Facebook friends, too (that’s how I got the word out). Bottom line: there’s a lot more information about your friends and a lot more ways to get to it. The interactions on Facebook, I think, are more meaningful. That level of connectedness, which is lacking on Twitter, makes all the difference. It makes people want to interact.

What about LinkedIn?

Ironically, when I set out to find a lawyer recommendation, I didn’t even think of LinkedIn – the business networking website. It wasn’t until the next day that I thought of it. But then I thought: how would I even go about using LinkedIn to get a recommendation? I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching by keywords only to bring up second and third degree contacts, which require me to request introductions from my first degree contacts. Too much work. I finally decided to update my LinkedIn status with “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation…” The result: nothing. There just isn’t a good way (at least as far as I know) to reach all of your LinkedIn contacts like you can do on Facebook.

Your thoughts / experiences?

So, have you had similar experiences? Have you successfully used social networking sites to make business connections? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

I am excited that this Friday, LinkedIn will be adding discussion forums and related features to LinkedIn Groups.  Here is an extract from the email announcement I received: 

This Friday [8/29/08], we will be adding several much-requested features to your group:

  • Discussion forums: Simple discussion spaces for you and your members.
  • Enhanced roster: Searchable list of group members.
  • Digest emails: Daily or weekly digests of new discussion topics which your members may choose to receive. (We will be turning digests on for all current group members soon, and prompting them to set to their own preference.)
  • Group home page: A private space for your members on LinkedIn.

We’re confident that these new features will spur communication, promote collaboration, and make your group more valuable to you and your members.

Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals (KMLP) is a LinkedIn group of over 600 members.  I had been looking for relatively easy ways to foster collaboration among members of this group for quite some time.  The Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals Netvibes page is a good place to see some good legal KM blogs and, but the collaboration there has been sparse.   The Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals Facebook Group has had more success in getting discussions going.   I am hopeful that these new LinkedIn features will be a step in the right direction.  

On a related note, I encourage everyone to check out a new social news network site that, I think, shows some promise.  It is called Social Median.  I set up a network there called (you guessed it) Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals.   I like it because it aggregates relevant news and information and offers RSS delivery of the content. 

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

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