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Thursday, February 24th, 2011 technology  research  practice

A Practice Tip

  • Practice

“Lawyers are terrified of making a human connection” – David Maister.

As lawyers, we live on Microsoft Outlook, we have blogs and we tweet and otherwise interact with the world in an electronic swirl. Yet ask yourself – can you bring up a mental picture of those people with whom you are sending and receiving email, reading or replying to their blogs or tweets? More importantly, do you think that your clients (or potential clients) can conjure up a picture of you when they think of “their” lawyer? Yet being able to bring up a mental picture of someone is the first step in bridging the distance and building a personal relationship between you and them.

As David Maister, the legal professional management guru has noted, lawyers are terrified of making a human connection. To follow this thought further – it seems we interact with our clients on a lofty plane. To be sure, a certain amount of professional detachment is a good thing – but not to the point where it interferes with building a strong, trusted professional relationship.

So how can you start to bridge this distance in an electronic world? Start by using v-cards (virtual cards) that are attached to your emails that also contain a picture of yourself. Once you set this up in Microsoft Outlook it is automatic -the v-card is attached to all outgoing emails. A recipient can click on the v-card and *voila* all your contact info is added to their address book (provided their email software recognizes and imports v-cards) including your picture.

Dave’s v-card at the Law Society of British Columbia is below:

Dave's v-card

How can you do this? First you will need a professional looking photo of yourself in jpg format. Save it somewhere where you can find it on your hard drive.

Now – In Outlook 2007 for the PC:

Click on “Tools” then “Options” then “Mail Format” then “Signatures”. Set up a signature block for all your email (you can set up different ones for different circumstances if you wish) and be sure to click on “Business Card”. Find your contact information inside your Contacts listing (if it isn’t accurate, leave this and go back to your listing in Contacts and update it including adding your photo, then return here). If you have added your photo to your listing in “Contacts” you should see it as part of your business card which appears as part of your standard email signature block. Click “ok”. You should be good to go.

Now when you send someone an email, they can ‘connect’ with you on a human level – by “seeing” you before them!

(Hat tip to Barclay Johnson, a Victoria BC lawyer who provided the spark for this column).

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