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All Our Practice Tips

♫ But the plan won’t accomplish anything
If it’s not implemented…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by Built to Spill.

idea plan action

(image used pursuant to Creative Commons CC0 licence)

There are many questions to ask yourself and to think about before you reach your decision as to whether or not you would like to open a law practice. In talking to other lawyers, they will have some very helpful questions that will be very insightful and provide guidance as to whether you are making the right move or not. Owning a law  practice is a huge responsibility, so you want to be very sure of what you are getting yourself into. You want to make sure that you are ready willing and able to do what it takes, and most importantly, you have what it takes to run that legal practice.

Ask yourself – are you are a good decision maker? Part of owning your own business means that you have to be that voice of reason and the ultimate decision maker. The buck, as they say, stops with you. You have to be the one to see that the best interests of your clients are always first and foremost. You also need to do what is best for both your clients, as well as for the practice.

Ask yourself: are you organized enough to run the business? You need many skills including a high degree of organization in order to be successful. This does not mean that you necessarily have to be equipped with those skills yourself. It is quite acceptable to hire someone to do tasks on your behalf, as long as they are going to effectively get the job done. So if that means hiring an extra secretary and an accountant, then so be it. But you are the one doing the management for the practice and as such you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your practice.

Ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice what it takes to properly run your practice? You will be putting in long hours and as a result, have much less of a social life when you are starting a new practice, at least at first. You are going to want to dedicate your time concentrating on your new firm – managing it, marketing it, checking the finances and all that. You need to realize that when a person opens a new law practice, it does take away some of the time that they have with their family and loved ones. You have to be sure that this sacrifice is something that you have thought through, and accept and that your family is willing to make their own sacrifices as well.

Once you have mentally prepared yourself to run a busy law practice, there are more things to think about. You have to organize your office! After carpet and wallpaper combinations are worked out, client seating is considered, office equipment ordered and qualified staff are recruited the legal professional’s office is open for business. Bookkeeping must be done and cheques written.

As time passes, increase in business volume strains the practitioner. Even though managerial ability should be increasing, there is no time to manage effectively. Gone are the days when legal professionals handled every aspect of the day-to-day business. The accountant says business has increased but profits are down. Staff members sometimes do not get along. Information systems do not break out pertinent details of the business. The expensive marketing costs do not seem to be hitting the mark. The community begins to wonder why this educated and apparently capable individual never seems to support enough local projects. At the end of the day, there is very little time for considering the business, let alone family. Often the step overlooked when building a new practice is to develop a practical business plan from the outset.

Planning is perhaps the fundamental function of a manager. It requires understanding the components of a business and how they are interconnected. Planning begins with understanding the value a practitioner brings to their client and how best to satisfy the client’s needs. There is no better use of your time before you open your new practice than planning what it is going to look like, how it is going to operate, how it will be financed, what tools and technologies will you incorporate into your workflows and how will you manage to find time for yourself in order to avoid burnout.

Having a well drafted strategic business plan at hand means that you have a roadmap that governs not only the business direction in which you wish to proceed, it also serves as a governing document, guiding your efforts towards the clients, files and type of practice that you wish to have. It serves as the place where you have listed your business goals (in both qualitative as well as quantitative terms) and when you expect to reach them. It is an analysis of your business from many angles, including how to run the practice (Management), how to reach your chosen markets (Marketing), what systems you will need to make your practice work (Technology) as well as how you expect to be able to raise the necessary capital to start up and run your practice (Finance).

Along the way, you must learn the systems that must be incorporated into your practice to and how to properly run them to ensure that you are practicing professionally, profitably and ethically. You must also decide the legal entity under which you will practice.

Optimally you should do all this planning by crafting a well-thought out business plan before you open your doors. That is foresight. But the plan won’t accomplish anything sitting on the shelf. You must give life to the plan and seek to implement its goals and objectives as well as monitor and evaluate the results of your efforts to make maximum use of your plan.

After all your plan won’t accomplish anything unless it is implemented.

David J. Bilinsky,  Vancouver, BC.

 

In the course of your work as a legal professional, you may receive the occasional call from the media, seeking your comments or insights on a recent legal development or issue.

Handling these enquiries with expertise and grace will always be beneficial to you and your practice.

Here are a few tips on working with the media in this context:

  1. Generally speaking, media enquiries will initially come by email, with the journalist specifying the topic to be covered and asking for your availability to participate in a telephone interview.
  2. If you wish to participate, don’t delay. Journalists work on very tight deadlines, so an immediate response will always be appreciated. It will also increase the odds that you will be included in the article to be written.
  3. Do some research before your phone interview. Read up on the topics to be discussed, and ensure that you have the relevant statutes and caselaw at your fingertips during the interview.  The more detail and precision you can provide, the more value you will be adding to the article being written.
  4. Be helpful. Most journalists appreciate it if you provide them with links to source materials by email. Remember, you have been contacted because of your expertise. If you can provide helpful background materials to the journalist, this will make  the writer’s job easier, and also make it more likely that you will be called again, next time.
  5. Speak slowly and clearly during your interview, to give the writer opportunity to accurately record your comments.  Pause occasionally, to allow the journalist time to catch up.  Ask if you are going too fast, and listen to any cues your interviewer is providing about the pace and content of your comments.
  6. Be yourself.  Be engaging and communicate your enthusiasm about your topic.
  7. If you are logistically unable to participate in a telephone interview, but still want to contribute, consider sending a comment by email.  You never know – your short blurb could be exactly what the journalist needs.
  8. Always be mindful in your dealings with the press of your duty to maintain client confidentiality.  Don’t comment on cases in which you are professionally engaged without your clients’ express permission.
  9. Also be mindful of  your various ethical duties when dealing with the press, with special focus on the legal professional’s overarching duty to foster public confidence in the administration of justice.
  10. When your telephone interview is finished, always ask the journalist to send you a link to the article being written, once it’s published online.
  11. Ask that the online version of the article, where possible, include a link to your website.
  12. If you note an error in the article, once published, don’t hesitate be in contact with the writer to request a correction. This can usually be  done expeditiously, particularly with online publications.
  13. Consider sending a thank you note or follow up email to the journalist involved with feedback about the completed article, and kudos for a job well done.
  14. Once published, leverage the article in your marketing efforts. Post it to your blog. Tweet and retweet it, and share liberally on social media.

Garry J, Wise, Toronto 

 

 

♫ So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time…♫

Lyrics and music: Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Glenn Lewis Frey, Donald Hugh Henley, recorded by The Eagles.  Thanks Glenn for all the great music.

thinking

 

(image by Wade M – CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)

This is a new year’s resolution of a different sort.  All of us resolve to get healthier, to live better lives and to do better this year than last.  How many of us resolve to keep our minds sharp and agile?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn something different: Take a course that is completely removed from anything else that you have done.  The more you learn the better your mind learns to rework its neural pathways.  Taking on the challenge of the unknown is more beneficial than doing the same thing over and over.
  • Start an aerobic exercise:  There is a mind-body connection and the fitter the body the fitter the mind. Keeping your cardio system strong can lessen the chance of system health concerns which in turn, reduce the effects that the passage of years take on them mind. Keeping a daily aerobic exercise has been shown to beat depression, increase mental sharpness and bolster the immune system!
  • Get enough sleep:  Chronic sleep depravation is linked with the build up of proteins in the brain that are linked with reduced learning and cognitive decline.
  • Drink your coffee: Studies have shown that two to four coffees a day may decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s by 30 to 60 percent!
  • Eat a healthy diet:  There is evidence that brain and heart health may contribute to warding off dementia. You have heard it all before:  stick to fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and a moderate amount of alcohol,
  • Use your mind:  Don’t resort to a calculator or computer. Do it in your head (you can always check it using the tech). Math strengthens reasoning and problem solving skills.
  • Don’t stop learning: Evidence shows that the best classes are those that are both mentally challenging as well as socially demanding.  Photography is great here!
  • Do puzzles: There is a correlation between doing puzzles and increased scores on mental tests. Hey, it can’t hurt!
  • Engage: When in a situation, try to turn on all your senses. Notice scents, tastes, feelings, sounds, sights in situations around you. This activates different areas of your brain at the same time.
  • Use your left *(or right)* hand: My father was ambidextrous. For those of us who are not, trying to use your “other” hand challenges your mind and senses!
  • Be Positive!: Maintaining a positive attitude not only helps you mentally, it also increases your social skills!
  • Be Creative: Take up writing, a musical instrument, poetry, quilting or something that challenges to come up with something original.
  • Help Others: No truer statement was ever written when someone said “When you help others, you help yourself”.
  • Adjust: As we age, we won’t be running marathons as we used to (or whatever it was that defined your peak). Runners World magazine advised seeking new goals as we age that adjust to our life conditions such as running different runs or seeking new running partners. Redefine what is success to you.
  • Give thanks:  So many people are caught up in the race of comparing themselves against others. Stop. Take a breath. Now think about what you have and how fortunate you are compared to many others. Practising gratitude can be a very affirmative habit that increases your life happiness and satisfaction.
  • Carry a notebook: OK your memory isn’t as good as it used to be. So write things down in a notebook that you carry with you. Albert Einstein said: “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”
  • Repeat things: When you meet someone new, repeat their name several times in your conversation. This will help you remember their name. Use this for other things you need to remember.
  • Meditate: A lawyer that I have known for a very long while sent me a CD with meditation music saying that this was one of the best things he has ever learned. I pass his advice on to you.
  • Ask for Help: Who said we need to do it all ourselves?  Lawyers don’t want to seem incapable; my advice: give it up.  All of us can’t possibly learn everything we need to learn in life. Mentors are worth their weight in gold.

All of us age – that is inevitable. The effects of aging however, are (somewhat) optional. By exercising our mind, we are encouraging it to stretch and in effect, challenging it to take it to the limit one more time.

David J . Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.

 

 

 

 

imageLegal professionals properly place high priority on securing our computer infrastructures to protect client confidentiality.

Our desktop screens, however, are often overlooked, as a source of potential security breaches.

Is your computer screen visible to visitors to your office? Are wandering eyes able to catch a glimpse of confidential information on your desktop?

There’s an easy solution to avoid inadvertent lapses in confidentiality that can happen when screens are exposed.

Use a screensaver to protect the data on your screen.

Whether it’s a built-in screensaver that ships with your operating system, or one of the numerous installables that is available online, there is no shortage of options for hiding your screen when your computer is idle.

If you are marketing-minded, you can use your firm’s logo or other promotional material as a screensaver to hide your screen, while also building your brand.

You can even use your website’s home page or any live web page as your screensaver.

However you choose to do it, use a screensaver to ensure that the data on your desktop screen offers no temptation to people who enter your office, whether they be clients, cleaners or other visitors who pop in for a friendly chat.

Garry  J. Wise,  Toronto

 

♫  We made our resolution for our brand new year:
No more letting days go by…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by The Limousines.

Postcards2CardsNewYearsResolution1915

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many of us resolve to do things better in the New Year even if we don’t make formal New Year’s Resolutions.  Problem is that good intentions die hard.  How can you increase your chances for a positive change and outcome?  Here are a number of suggestions put forward to increase your chances for a real positive change:

  • Start Small: Rome wasn’t built in a day and changes take time. By starting with a small change you can reap the benefits of achievement early and reinforce the knowledge that change is attainable.
  • Start with One Goal: If your list is as long as your Christmas gift list, chances are you will get discouraged with the daunting nature of what you have taken on.  Change is hard: Don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • Slippage is Inevitable: Perfection is an abstract concept. By picking yourself up after a wee break, you can get yourself back on track.
  • Choose New Goals: Avoid trying to achieve the goals that you previously set that may not have worked.  Giving yourself a fresh goal can be invigorating and empowering.
  • Keep Working at It: Change is a process and processes take time. Babies learn to walk by taking tiny steps.  But they lead to big things.
  • Seek Support: Don’t do it alone. Friends and family can be the positive reinforcement that you need and help get you through a dark spot.
  • Reward Yourself: Reward behaviour to celebrate your success!
  • Keep Trying: Keep at your new behaviour until it starts becoming part of your routine and personality.

Most of all don’t give up! We all know that change is hard but determination can overcome  resistance. You made your resolution for the brand new year; now no more letting days go by!

 

I’m sorry if this sounds like a cheesy idea, but it’s a good one nonetheless.

There will be inevitable slings and arrows in the life of any professional. Hopefully, the good days will outnumber the bad.

Some days,  you may need a positive reminder, though

Thankfully, there will always be clients who are good enough to let you know that they feel you’ve done a good job, that they are happy with the results you’ve achieved, and that they truly appreciate your hard work and good service.

For the last little while, I’ve been copying all those thank you emails to what I call my “Happy Client Folder” on my iPhone.

It’s nice to know that in one, easily available repository, there is a collection of kind words, gratitude, and acknowledgement of a job well done.

So that brings me to today’s tip: Maintain your own Happy Client Folder. It will always be there at your fingertips as reminder that your work is appreciated and your successes have not gone unnoticed

One day, you may be glad it’s there.

Wishing all of our readers much joy and happiness in the festive season.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto

 

♫ Get a leg up
What’s the matter
Are you shy, shy, shy? ♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by: John Mellencamp.

In an article entitled: 5 Rules for When to Listen to Advice (And When Not To) in Inc. Magazine,  Matthew Swyers, the Founder of The Trademark Company

 stated (here I am just going to summarize) the rules as to determine if advice is worth anything:

  1. Context: Determine the weight to be given to advice from the context in which it is given.
  2. Unsolicited Advice: Determine why someone is giving you advice.
  3. Motivation: What is the person seeking who is giving you advice?  Matthew says, “What is their end game?”
  4. Knowledge: How reliable is the advice that you have been given?
  5. Experience: What experience does this person have relative to the advice that they are giving?

All this is to put the following advice in context.  Peter Legge, O.B.C, CSP, CPAE, HoF, LLD (Hon)

Peter-and-kay-leggeis an author, a very successful businessman, a community leader and an incredible presenter. I went to one of his presentations years ago and just rediscovered his handout: a publication entitled “97 Tips: Doing Business in Tough Times, Proven Strategies that Work“.  Since the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates slightly on Wednesday, which I understand is bad news for the Canadian dollar and economy, I thought it was appropriate to post some of his 97 tips here that deal with leadership and personal conviction.  Full disclosure: I went up to Peter after his presentation and asked if I could republish, with attribution, some of his tips and he agreed. I assume that this approval and consent has not expired with the passage of time.  After all, Peter’s advice is timeless:

  • Be positive. You become what you think about. If you refuse to accept failure and if you think like a winner, you will be one.
  • Be decisive. Take action. Nothing kills a good idea or an opportunity faster than procrastination. Survey the options, make the call, move on it, and never 2nd-guess yourself. There’s nothing to be gained from regret.
  • Achieve. Do not try hard, do not make excuses. Do what needs to be done. “Sometimes you have to do your best, but sometimes you have to do what is required,” said Winston Churchill. This is the time to execute with conviction.
  • Know what’s important. No matter what kind of challenge you find yourself up against, always face it with absolute clarity. Be specific about what you want to accomplish and be sure you are perfectly clear on what’s most important.
  • Don’t be afraid. Remember, everyone around you has fears, phobias and doubts. Rise above your worries. Think about the example set by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on September 11. The people around you are losing their cool, show them that you are not afraid. Face your fear and do it anyway.
  • Stay true. These may be tough times indeed, but when it comes down to it, nothing has really changed. It still all about doing business the best that you can. So, stay focused on your organization’s mission, stick to your core values and don’t waver from your goals. Stick to your knitting.
  • Be unforgettable. When clients are looking for a product or service, make sure they think of you first. Be appreciative, considerate, courageous, positive-thinking and excited.
  • Small can be beautiful. Don’t let yourself get too big for your britches. Successful small business is infinitely preferable to a big business that has been marginalized by undisciplined growth. Grow when you’re ready.
  • Handwrite thank-you cards. Write 5 thank you notes daily. Don’t think people via email. Handwritten notes have become a rarity. Send personal greetings for important occasions as well as lesser ones.
  • Take time to think. Slow down. Don’t be rushed or pushed into making the wrong decision. Look out the window and take 30 minutes a day to think about your challenges. Your decisions will be much better in the long-run.
  • Be thoughtful and courteous. Courtesy is a hallmark of a distinctive approach to business. People are drawn to doing business with the people they like and who treat them well.
  • Be kind. People will forget what you said. The will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel. Learn how to listen. Be sensitive to the needs and expectations of people.
  • Make yourself heard. Marketing costs are often the 1st expenditure to be cut when money gets tight. But this is the time when you actually need to increase your marketing efforts, not cut them. After all, if your competitors stop advertising while you continue to trumpet your own business, guess who’s message customers will notice?

Thank you Peter in helping all of us keep a clear head, set our compass and take your advice on how to get a leg up and not be shy!

(p.s. If you want to get the rest of Peter’s tips, you should be able to order them from Peter Legge Management Co. Ltd at 604 299 9188.)

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.

 

♫ The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round,
round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all through the town…♫

Lyrics and music by: Lydia Ulsaker, sung by teachers, parents and children everywhere.

Frustrated_man_at_a_desk_(cropped)

(image by: LaurMG, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

James C. Collins wrote the best seller: “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t.”  It has stood the test of time and sold over 4 million copies according to Wikipedia.

Jim has some very good advice that is contained in his seven characteristics of companies that went from good to great. For this column I am only going to deal with the first:

First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. This is all about finding the right people and trying them out in different positions.

Of course to get the right people on the bus, you have to find out who may be the wrong people on the bus that perhaps have to get off.

Well that is all well and good if you are in a management role and have the authority to ask someone to politely get off the bus. What if you are a fellow rider and have to work with someone who should have been asked to get off a long time ago but for one reason or another, is still on the bus.  Now what?

Forbes.com published Kevin Kruse’s article “Dealing with Difficult People”.  The full article can be found here, but I am just going to summarize his excellent advice:

  1. Don’t get dragged down. Don’t get sucked into their world of negativity.
  2. Listen. Use good listening techniques.  They think no one is listening to them.
  3. Use a time for venting. Let the Downer vent for 5 minutes. Then move on.
  4. Don’t agree. Appeasing them only adds fuel to the fire.
  5. Don’t stay silent. Silence will be interpreted as agreement.
  6. Do switch extremes into facts. Switch them to fact-based statements.
  7. Move to problem solving. Help them move to a problem-solving mode.
  8. Cut them off. Nothing worked? Then politely shut them down.

You want to enjoy the company of those with whom you work while the wheels on the bus go round and round.

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver.

 

 

♫ Light gives way to darkness
Unless we come alive.
So be the change you need to see.
Let yourself ignite…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by Heartist.

flaming-gavel320

(image by Erralix)

In the UK, “The Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls, as Head of Civil Justice, have asked Lord Justice Briggs to carry out an urgent review of the structure of the courts which deliver civil justice.” As part of this review is the consideration of the creation of an on-line court (“OC”) for ‘lower value disputes’. (http://www.chba.org.uk/news/civil-court-structure-review )

It is designed primarily for use by litigants, in person; it is to be ‘investigatory rather than purely adversarial’; it is to include conciliation, mediation and it is to be a mainstream rather than an alternative method of dispute resolution.

Face to face hearings are to be used only if ‘documentary, telephone or video alternatives’ are unavailable.

The issues that they will be examining and considering are:

At what level of value at risk (or other criteria) to set the ceiling of the OC.

Whether there are types of case which, regardless of value, are unsuited for resolution in the OC.

Whether use of the OC (once fully tested and proved) should be compulsory.

How to assist those for whom the conduct of litigation on-line is impossible or difficult.

Costs shifting between the parties.

A suitable rules regime for the OC.

How to achieve the transparency needed for the process to comply with the requirements of open justice.

The design of an appropriate appeals process.

If this sounds at all familiar, it should. British Columbia’s Civil Dispute Tribunal will be coming on-line in the near future. The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act will require parties with minor strata (i.e. condominium ) disputes and small claims matters (expected to be $10,000 or less) to use the mandatory CRT. The CRT will be Canada’s first online tribunal.

The CRT is intended to be a cost-effective and accessible process for resolving disputes.  Parties will not be filing documents in a courthouse or indeed attending hearing or trials.  They will be accessing the CRT online. No need for taking time off work to go to the court registry; the CRT website will be available 24/7 and asynchronous communications can be used.

The CRT will consist of two systems: the Solution Explorer is intended to help people with tools to access their options and resolve their dispute themselves. The second system will be the Dispute Resolution Service which will enable early resolution options and adjudications if necessary. In this way it is similar to the online dispute resolution mechanisms of eBay which assist parties to resolve their disputes. eBay’s system works: they resolve some 60 millions disputes a year, of which  over 80% are settled by the two parties and the software.

Indeed the Independent reports that the UK OC will be modelled on the eBay system:

Thousands of legal disputes would be settled online each year under plans for an eBay-inspired revolution in the civil justice system.

Judges would rule on cases involving up to £25,000 without the need for courts to be booked or for the parties involved to appear in person to give evidence. The proposed shake-up – which is supported by senior judges –  could also save large sums for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

These innovations in civil justice are just starting. But the advantages of ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) as compared to traditional trials are quickly apparent. The Canadian Department of Justice lists the advantages of ODR as follows:

  • ODR is a generally informal, flexible and creative tool of dispute resolution which is not governed by strict rules of procedure and evidence. This may allow the parties to design or participate in a process which can be moulded to suit their needs and encourages a consensual rather than an adversarial approach.
  • ODR may reduce litigation costs: this is of importance both to corporate parties who wish to keep costs down and to parties who otherwise might not be able to afford the cost of litigation. The costs of the process or compensation given to the neutral evaluator are generally borne equally by all parties, providing all parties with an equal stake in the outcome and an equal sense of ownership.
  • ODR may be the appropriate option particularly for low-cost, high-volume transaction as it often allows for a timely, cost-efficient and efficient resolution to problems where the amounts in dispute may not be sufficiently high to justify the cost of a meeting-based mediation (e.g. consumer disputes).
  • ODR also allows for a more cost-efficient resolution of disputes where there is significant geographic distance between the parties and the amount in dispute may preclude the cost of travel.
  • ODR may be appropriate where there are sensitivities between the parties that may be exacerbated by being in the same room (e.g. matrimonial disputes).
  • ODR may allow for the participation of parties who could not otherwise attend an in-person meeting due to a severe disability.
  • ODR is confidential (unless agreed otherwise by the parties), subject to the application of the Access to Information Act and of the Privacy Act when the federal government is a party. The process is appropriate when confidentiality is considered important or necessary to the parties, which is often the case: parties utilizing DR mechanisms usually do so on the basis that they can discuss matters freely in the expectation that they will be disclosed, neither publicly, nor to a court.

Certainly there are disadvantages of ODR, not the least of which is having those who are disadvantaged or with disabilities access the online resources necessary to participate.

However, when it comes to increasing access to justice and moving the justice system into the 21st century, there is no question that greater online resources will play a big part. The challenge for the legal and the justice system is to be the change that we need to see and let ourselves ignite to the possibilities that change might bring.

-David  J. Bilinsky, Vancouver.

 

 

There is no shortage of evangelism out there on the importance of the Internet as a platform for marketing law firms. I’ve certainly attempted to be a strong voice on this topic for well over a decade.

According to Toronto law firm marketing consultant, Sandra Bekhor, however, the legal marketing landscape has evolved, and the question has now shifted.

The importance of a well-positioned, frequently updated online footprint remains a given for law firm marketing.

The critical question today is whether that, alone, will be enough to guarantee success. In other words, can we do it all via our websites, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms?

In her recent blog post, The single biggest web marketing mistake everyone (almost) is making,  Ms Bekhor suggests that professional practices take a renewed look at marketing opportunities offline, and argues for a new, coordinated balance between online and offline marketing efforts.

She offers the following tips:

  1. Weave back and forth, from online to off – my personal favourite. Whether it’s to network with prospective clients or referrers, go to or create your own live events, anything from seminars to cycling and wine tastings. Get out there (with your team) and press the flesh. And for those of you that are already doing so, stop keeping those activities in a silo. Use the internet to share your experiences, post photos and reconnect with the very same people you met in the flesh. They will remember you far better than having briefly scanned your profile and your online efforts will continue to solidify the connection. Keep doing it and your internet marketing will be more targeted, one degree at a time.
  2. Market to the neighborhood – especially fitting for medical clinics and other services targeting the local client. Every neighborhood has its own culture. Read the local paper, visit complementary businesses and generally tap into the comings and goings of the area to discover the best opportunities to get the word out about your firm. There are ample opportunities from sponsoring local events or teams, public speaking, networking opportunities and promotional partnerships. Start walking and talking. You might even enjoy yourself. What’s wrong with that?
  3. Use snail mail to pop from the clutter – That’s right, snail mail is the new internet! How many letters do you get these days? Would you notice if you received a personalized package from someone in your professional network? And what if it included a handwritten message, clever marketing materials or a surprisingly likeable keepsake? Don’t be too quick to dismiss direct mail as a viable option just because you had a couple of bad runs. There may very well be a logical explanation. Objectively, was the message clear and compelling? Did it reach the right audience? Did they even receive it? Did you follow up with subsequent mailings to build up to the appropriate frequency? Investigate.
  4. Pick up the phone, you know the part with the numbers that can actually call someone?! – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from clients that nobody calls anyone anymore. Our phones may be smart, but are we? We’re so busy texting, emailing and ‘liking’ that we’ve forgotten how to connect as human beings. Remember that a short call is a lot more powerful that posting something on LinkedIn to the audience that never showed up to read it.
  5. Better yet, go for coffee! And don’t let distance stop you, skype coffees count too!

(Full disclosure: Sandra Bekhor is, among other things, my significant other, and is currently the thought-leader in our home on this topic. I’m glad to share her comnents with our readers. I think she has this entirely right.)

– Garry J. Wise, Toronto