21st Century Online Tools for Growing your Dispute Resolution Practice

21st Century Online Tools for Growing your Dispute Resolution Practice

Moderated by Jeff Bean

 

As dispute resolution professionals we help our clients to form, restructure, change or even sever their relationships. We can use the same skills we use to help our clients manage their relationships to build our own practices. With social network environments offering us to place our own content and establish our web-presence, we have new tools to leverage our relationship-building skills. We can use them to establish our web-presence, develop our personal reputation and grow our professional brand. We can use these online environments to form the authentic relationships that grow our practices.

 

In this discussion we will identify the options for building a web-presence that you can use to develop your business. We will share strategies for creating the interactions that result in real relationships, referrals and clients. 

 

Here are some of the questions we'll explore:

  • What is my web-presence? What is my online reputation?
  • What are the online tools available for dispute resolution professionals?
  • How do we find and choose the tools that we will have the capacity to use and that work for us?
  • What strategies are there for using them that are effective?
  • How can we manage our time among all the choices?
  • How do we stay on top of the constantly changing field of online opportunities?
  • How do we use these technologies to create authentic human interaction?

 

Moderator Bio:

Jeff Bean, Facilitator/Mediator. For 30 years Jeff's been using leading-edge technologies in his dispute resolution work, first in the practice of law and now in his facilitation/mediation practice. Jeff has launched and managed the online assets for several businesses and professional organizations. With others at eDeliberation.com he partners with dispute resolution and conflict management professionals to deploy technological tools in consensus-building work. In 2012 he received Washington Mediation Association's Technology Integration Award. Jeff created and hosts www.BeyondtheCourthouse.net to bring people with disputes together with professionals in a social network integrated with a flexible ODR platform.

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How are we going to get out there in the online marketplace? Do a mediator's version of Lucy Van Pelt's Psychiatric Help stand?

What are we calling this?

  • Online networking; social media networking; social media for business
  • Relationship-based marketing
  • I call it Connecting

It's a basic human process and interaction. We all know how to do it in-person. Yet it seems we need some help learning to do it on-line. Let's help each other learn about it.

What do you call it? What is it to you?

photo credit: joelogon via photo pin cc

What is my web-presence? What is my online reputation?

Your presence and reputation is more than just being found - when people find you, what do they see?

Ever "google yourself?" Do it.

What did you find? Did it surprise you?

We're not talking about how to optimize people finding you when they search (SEO); that would be another discussion. Getting found on search won't always be the end-all, be-all: eventually, if not already, more people connect with information through social media than by searching for it.

Add to that this thought: in a few years there will be more human interaction in social media than in-person

So your online presence and reputation are not just a question of whether you are getting found when people search for you. It's bigger than that: However people do it, when people find you online, what are they seeing?

What's your online reputation? Whether you're actively taking control of it or letting others do it for you, what are people learning about you online? What's the message they're getting about you? 

 

Thanks, Jeff.  I wonder how sites like this one (ADRHUB) and Mediate.com and ones like it can help with this.  Speaking for myself, it's hard to imagine having the resources (of money, time, and energy) to devote to an extensive presence online for myself, but I would love for people to be able to find me (and a lot of info about me) via strategically advertised and branded sites that could gain a lot of traction in the marketplace, and my "fees" or membership for joining these sites could (when joined with others) help leverage the resource to wider audiences.  

Online reputation is becoming a pretty big deal.  Potential clients are definitely googling you before they call you up so your online reputation is becoming more and more relevant and important! 

What do you call it? What is it to you? 

I call it networking and marketing.  I don't call it online networking because the majority of people that I connect with online I make it a point to meet up with them in person.  For me social media has two major benefits for my business; 

1. A handshake: It allows you to get to know the person before you even meet them.  It's a virtual handshake.  No more awkward first time meetings with people while you try to size people up, find out what they do, get a feel for them.  Before you even sit down for that first coffee or beer, you'll likely already know their occupation/vocation and probably enough details about them (i.e. hobbies, kids, etc.) that you'll be able to have a great conversation with them and can move the relationship deeper, continue building rapport and trust with the person.

2.  Ongoing maintenance: Before, if you hadn't talked to the person in sometime it would be an awkward follow-up call of, "how's it going?" Now, we can have ongoing conversations with people to keep the momentum flowing after that first meeting on a weekly, monthly or even daily rate! 

The thing I say most often to people is that social media is a conversation platform.  It's not there to push out your services (although people do that), but rather it's there to connect with people, learn more about them, and form relationships or partnerships.  If used wisely, it can be a great source for you, both personally and professionally.  

Jason


Jeff Bean said:

How are we going to get out there in the online marketplace? Do a mediator's version of Lucy Van Pelt's Psychiatric Help stand?

What are we calling this?

  • Online networking; social media networking; social media for business
  • Relationship-based marketing
  • I call it Connecting

It's a basic human process and interaction. We all know how to do it in-person. Yet it seems we need some help learning to do it on-line. Let's help each other learn about it.

What do you call it? What is it to you?

photo credit: joelogon via photo pin cc

Larry, you're bringing up a couple of very important points. Having profile pages on various directories can serve like a billboard or online brochure to identify you, provide info on your work and contact information. Yet I think people are coming to notice whether you're interacting online. And interaction does take time! I'll make sure we discuss strategies for making good use of time before the day's done here.


Larry Schooler said:

Thanks, Jeff.  I wonder how sites like this one (ADRHUB) and Mediate.com and ones like it can help with this.  Speaking for myself, it's hard to imagine having the resources (of money, time, and energy) to devote to an extensive presence online for myself, but I would love for people to be able to find me (and a lot of info about me) via strategically advertised and branded sites that could gain a lot of traction in the marketplace, and my "fees" or membership for joining these sites could (when joined with others) help leverage the resource to wider audiences.  

Jason, that's just it, a "handshake." You and I met on twitter. We're discussing you coming out to Seattle for presentations with @NeilDenny, another person I met in the twittersphere. When I meet someone in-person whom I first met online, it's not the first time we've "met." Definitely for me, it's been technology in service of real human interaction.

Jason Dykstra said:

Online reputation is becoming a pretty big deal.  Potential clients are definitely googling you before they call you up so your online reputation is becoming more and more relevant and important! 

What do you call it? What is it to you? 

I call it networking and marketing.  I don't call it online networking because the majority of people that I connect with online I make it a point to meet up with them in person.  For me social media has two major benefits for my business; 

1. A handshake: It allows you to get to know the person before you even meet them.  It's a virtual handshake.  No more awkward first time meetings with people while you try to size people up, find out what they do, get a feel for them.  Before you even sit down for that first coffee or beer, you'll likely already know their occupation/vocation and probably enough details about them (i.e. hobbies, kids, etc.) that you'll be able to have a great conversation with them and can move the relationship deeper, continue building rapport and trust with the person.

2.  Ongoing maintenance: Before, if you hadn't talked to the person in sometime it would be an awkward follow-up call of, "how's it going?" Now, we can have ongoing conversations with people to keep the momentum flowing after that first meeting on a weekly, monthly or even daily rate! 

The thing I say most often to people is that social media is a conversation platform.  It's not there to push out your services (although people do that), but rather it's there to connect with people, learn more about them, and form relationships or partnerships.  If used wisely, it can be a great source for you, both personally and professionally.  

Jason


Jeff Bean said:

How are we going to get out there in the online marketplace? Do a mediator's version of Lucy Van Pelt's Psychiatric Help stand?

What are we calling this?

  • Online networking; social media networking; social media for business
  • Relationship-based marketing
  • I call it Connecting

It's a basic human process and interaction. We all know how to do it in-person. Yet it seems we need some help learning to do it on-line. Let's help each other learn about it.

What do you call it? What is it to you?

photo credit: joelogon via photo pin cc

What are the online tools available for dispute resolution professionals?

Before we get to the issue raised for me in Larry's comment - about how we spend our time - and before getting further into Jason's ideas of how we use online tools, let's identify some of the tools we use. Do you use any of these? Any others?

  • Website/blog
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Directories: Avvo (for lawyers); mediate.com

What strategies are there for using online tools that are effective?

In different media you may have different audiences. If so, you'll want to tailor your message to them. If you know your audience in each medium, you can be aware of your reputation and hopefully, even why people follow/friend/link to you.

This is why you hear social media gurus suggest unlinking your status updates among them. If you're sending out the same message on all channels, it may not be resonating with the audiences of these different media.

Of the media I listed above, there's a significant difference between the general social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even LinkedIn) and the specific or vertical/niche social networking community platforms. I'm thinking of the networks professional associations may use. Some, like ADRHub, were designed to be learning communities of professionals. The problem is when these verticals were designed to connect professionals with the public, but they don't provide relevant content for anyone but the professionals. They start as "professional clubs" and don't move beyond that. 

An even worse situation is when I've seen a professional association create a social media platform - a Facebook organization page - that was specifically designed to provide useful, relevant content to the public. The association's professionals came in and turned it back into a professional club!

It seems easy to lose focus on the intention of the message and the content in these channels. Who is your audience? What's relevant to them? Are you trying to connect and interact with potential clients?

How can we manage our time among all the choices?

I found the biggest time-sink was in getting started: learning the mechanics and understanding how each online environment or community worked. Once that's done, however, I found ways to take less time to manage these channels.

Here's an example. I use Flipboard (iPhone) and Tweetdeck (desktop) to aggregate my feeds using different columns for different Twitter lists. I usually read my news list (twitter is how I get most of my news now) and almost as often my list of ADR-tweeps. I go to my Culture and Humor lists when I have more time (@SarcasticRover cracks me up).

I may go for quite some time, even days, without even looking at these various feeds. But I don't miss a day looking for real interaction with others.

If I have an interaction - a reply, a response, a direct message, a new follower, someone repeated or shared what I posted - I want to be on top of that. That's the primary reason on I'm on social media.

Monitoring for real interaction is fast and easy for me to do. They're on the @Connect tab on the Twitter desktop and on the Connections tab on its iPhone app. I can see if I've had any interactions and reply in a matter of moments.

What strategies do you use to manage your time with online interaction?

photo credit: ToniVC via photopin cc

Hi Jeff. 

The question of audience does seem key. Your example of the professionals taking over a space meant for the public made me think that perhaps an online space that is alive has to have some glue that holds it together. If a site is mainly a "brochure" for the public, I doubt that it has the compelling pull that would make people come back time and again. On the other hand, if it is a place where you can chat with people doing the same kind of work you do, maybe it starts to create some community and density of information that brings the folks who like to talk shop coming back. Creating a community that has energy, rather than building an ad or product explanation, seems like a taller order of business and skill, yes?


Jeff Bean said:

What strategies are there for using online tools that are effective?

In different media you may have different audiences. If so, you'll want to tailor your message to them. If you know your audience in each medium, you can be aware of your reputation and hopefully, even why people follow/friend/link to you.

This is why you hear social media gurus suggest unlinking your status updates among them. If you're sending out the same message on all channels, it may not be resonating with the audiences of these different media.

Of the media I listed above, there's a significant difference between the general social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even LinkedIn) and the specific or vertical/niche social networking community platforms. I'm thinking of the networks professional associations may use. Some, like ADRHub, were designed to be learning communities of professionals. The problem is when these verticals were designed to connect professionals with the public, but they don't provide relevant content for anyone but the professionals. They start as "professional clubs" and don't move beyond that. 

An even worse situation is when I've seen a professional association create a social media platform - a Facebook organization page - that was specifically designed to provide useful, relevant content to the public. The association's professionals came in and turned it back into a professional club!

It seems easy to lose focus on the intention of the message and the content in these channels. Who is your audience? What's relevant to them? Are you trying to connect and interact with potential clients?

I use LinkedIn (mainly in the groups), Facebook, blog (2 of them actually!), but my biggest use (read: addiction) is through this little site named twitter.  I'm on Google+ but I mainly just post my blogs there...so I'm not really using it very effectively.

I'd be really interested to hear where people are spending their time online and what kind of benefits they are seeing from being there!

Jason

 

Jeff Bean said:

What are the online tools available for dispute resolution professionals?

Before we get to the issue raised for me in Larry's comment - about how we spend our time - and before getting further into Jason's ideas of how we use online tools, let's identify some of the tools we use. Do you use any of these? Any others?

  • Website/blog
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Directories: Avvo (for lawyers); mediate.com

Bill, that's just it. Authentic interaction comes in community, and people join and stay active when there's something there for them. In the case of the Facebook page I mentioned, there was an intention that the professionals would create content attracting and relevant to the public, but other professionals that hadn't fully-understood the intention turned it back into a group of professionals "talking amongst themselves."

I think we already have plenty of places for ADR professionals to talk to each other. I'm in more ADR-related LinkedIn Groups than I can count.

It may be that the hope of an ADR-related vertical community that connects people with disputes with the professionals who can help them is a lot to ask for. Though I think it can be done. I'm building one now - we'll see if it works.

Yet maybe a specialized ADR-related vertical isn't necessary. Jason Dykstra here yesterday in the #ADRHubChat tantalizingly said he has had good success interacting with potential clients online. So c'mon, Jason, spill it! What online tools do you use, and how do you use them, to create that authentic interaction - the "handshake" - that grows your practice? 


Bill Warters said:

Hi Jeff. 

The question of audience does seem key. Your example of the professionals taking over a space meant for the public made me think that perhaps an online space that is alive has to have some glue that holds it together. If a site is mainly a "brochure" for the public, I doubt that it has the compelling pull that would make people come back time and again. On the other hand, if it is a place where you can chat with people doing the same kind of work you do, maybe it starts to create some community and density of information that brings the folks who like to talk shop coming back. Creating a community that has energy, rather than building an ad or product explanation, seems like a taller order of business and skill, yes?


Jeff Bean said:

What strategies are there for using online tools that are effective?

In different media you may have different audiences. If so, you'll want to tailor your message to them. If you know your audience in each medium, you can be aware of your reputation and hopefully, even why people follow/friend/link to you.

This is why you hear social media gurus suggest unlinking your status updates among them. If you're sending out the same message on all channels, it may not be resonating with the audiences of these different media.

Of the media I listed above, there's a significant difference between the general social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even LinkedIn) and the specific or vertical/niche social networking community platforms. I'm thinking of the networks professional associations may use. Some, like ADRHub, were designed to be learning communities of professionals. The problem is when these verticals were designed to connect professionals with the public, but they don't provide relevant content for anyone but the professionals. They start as "professional clubs" and don't move beyond that. 

An even worse situation is when I've seen a professional association create a social media platform - a Facebook organization page - that was specifically designed to provide useful, relevant content to the public. The association's professionals came in and turned it back into a professional club!

It seems easy to lose focus on the intention of the message and the content in these channels. Who is your audience? What's relevant to them? Are you trying to connect and interact with potential clients?

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