Two Checklists to Optimize Your Professional Practice Now and In 2022

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In this (still mainly) remote-communications world we all live in, every lawyer and other professional should take the time to maximize their online positioning and virtual business communications skills.

Here are two checklists to help you optimize yours!

  1. YEAR-END CHECKLIST:
  • Input your name in the most used search engines — Google, Microsoft Edge, etc. — and review the output, noting how many hits/results appear in each, which results rank highest, any negative information, etc. Then, work with your IT expert or assistant to make edits/upgrades. Claim any knowledge panels and update them with new information.
  • Review your account settings on the three most used videoconferencing platforms: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx.
  • Record yourself while in a videoconference and ask a trusted friend or advisor what you can do to optimize your videoconferencing skills.
  • Review the range of virtual communications tools you use and consider security upgrades. For example, consider using video messages, send/ship tos, and/or drop-offs. Ask your best clients and referral sources what secure messaging apps they use and prefer and start using those apps as appropriate.
  • Consider creating and sending voice or video messages selectively on LinkedIn messenger, WhatsApp, and other relevant platforms.
  • Record yourself delivering a webinar presentation and ask for suggestions to optimize your online presentation skills.
  • Ask for feedback from virtual pitches you have done online and consider making some improvements.
  • Review your outgoing email signature and vCard, and consider adding a recent photo of yourself, a link to your LinkedIn profile, Zoom room, etc.
  • Inventory and add your recent experience (matters/cases, etc. anonymized as appropriate) to your biographical sketch on your firm’s website, especially any pandemic-related experience.
  • Review your LinkedIn profile (and your profiles on other relevant social media) and add recent experience, relevant media, and other information. Review your settings to be sure they are optimized.
  • Assess your use of LinkedIn (which has the largest business reach of any media platform or outlet in the world) to 1) identify and develop new opportunities, 2) to become known as a thought leader, and 3) learn how to optimize your use of LinkedIn in the most time-efficient manner going forward.
  • Consider changing all your passwords.

2. Checklist to Optimize Virtual Coffees:

You can offer to meet a client/contact for lunch at a restaurant, or if they prefer (as many people do now), you could offer to meet them for a virtual coffee instead (30 mins max). Here are 12 tips on how to optimize a virtual coffee chat:

  1. Don’t forget your coffee mug! You are not meeting in-person at a coffee shop, but pour yourself a cup of Joe, or another beverage to maintain a cozy feel. Just holding a hot beverage can make you feel happier and come off as nicer, so don’t be afraid to take your virtual coffee date literally. Also, your choice of coffee mug could be a conversation starter.
  2. Optional – For select clients and contacts, as part of the invitation to have a virtual coffee with you, you could send them a virtual gift card (due to ethics rules, never buy/send any gift worth more than $20 USD) for Starbucks (or another coffee house near them) beforehand. Or order a virtual coffee tasting kit or tasting to send ahead.
  3. Optimize your space – Plan ahead to be sure the person on the other end of the line can clearly see you and hear you. Having to repeat yourself because of background noise can be distracting and come across as unprofessional. For that reason, close all the windows and doors in the room you’re sitting in for the duration of the conversation.
  4. Mind your background - A messy background can be a distraction, or reflect poorly on your organizational and awareness skills, so be sure to clean up before joining a video chat. Do NOT use fake video backgrounds, blur your background instead (if needed).
  5. Pay attention to the details - Is your lighting optimal? What’s in the background as you’re having this conversation? If needed, did you put a “Please Do Not Disturb” sign up during the time you’ll be on the call?
  6. Do a test run - Always do a test run. You want to make sure links are working, your microphone is on and at the right volume and that you’re not sitting too close to the screen.
  7. Dress appropriately – Dress professionally during any video meeting or conference, even when the other person can’t see you. It also helps you get into a more professional mindset.
  8. Offer your full attention - Put your phone away, mute the sound, and close any distracting tabs—especially social media and messaging applications—before initiating a virtual meeting.
  9. Prepare for awkward moments – Expect technical glitches and hiccups during any virtual, digital interaction. Instead of panicking when a call cuts out or a video lags you should go into the conversation knowing there may be some awkward moments and know that it’s okay to laugh it off.
  10. Preparation is always the key -The more prepared you are, the better chances you have of making a solid and lasting impression. Here are some tips:
    1. Research who you’re talking to, and their company/firm/entity, and have questions or comments ready.
    2. Prepare to be genuine and informed and to “Show Them You Know Them.” - nothing stands out more in a coffee chat then when you show you’ve taken the time to learn about the other person. Visit their LinkedIn profile, Google them, check if there is any news about them or their firm/company.
    3. Create and rehearse your value proposition/elevator pitch:
      1. Create a short intro (elevator pitch) that quickly and memorable summarize the value you bring to the table, such as: “I help insurance companies defend against lawsuits,” “I work with companies on new acquisitions and mergers,” “I help people protect their assets,” etc.
      2. It’s never easy to state your elevator pitch, especially virtually. So, practice it aloud and practice while you’re sitting in front of your screen. Get one of your friends/colleagues on a video chat and practice while they’re on the other line. It will help with your nerves by recreating the scene as close as possible to what you will experience once you’re in your virtual coffee chat.
  11. Be on time - Being on time means that you’re set up in a quiet spot with the windows closed and all your equipment tested well ahead of your scheduled chat. Ideally, you should be waiting on the line before the other person gets on.
  12. Write the person a sincere thank you note after your virtual coffee chat - This person has given up their time to speak with you. Sending a thank you note (either by email LinkedIn messenger, text, or better yet, handwritten and snail mailed) confirms that you respect them and their time. Keep it simple but be thoughtful and genuine.

If you have questions or would like assistance with the above, please contact the author, Julie Savarino.

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