What's Your Sentence?

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Recently, we held a breakfast event to talk with some of our clients about our vision of "Deal World" and how our clients could take the ideas we presented to remain relevant and profitable in light of the changed circumstances imposed upon so many businesses striving to keep going strong despite the persistently weak economy.

So what do we mean we we talk about Deal World? Simply put, there's more to almost any transaction than the four corners of the physical contract. These considerations include the following:
  1. Metrics
  2. Return on Investment
  3. Implementation
  4. The Next Contract
  5. Relationships
  6. Deal Review
 In asking the question about remaining relevant and profitable in the new economy, we reached out to others for their answers to that question. One of our favorite answers was from Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive. This was his answer:
“The key, I think, is to stop treating people (including ourselves) like horses and start treating them like human beings. Instead of trying to bribe folks with sweeter carrots or threaten them with sharper sticks, how about giving them greater freedom at work, allowing them to get better at something they love, and infusing the workplace with a sense of purpose?  The results might surprise you; indeed, they might change the world.”
In order to drive toward our ideal, we identified three key areas of consideration:
  1. Mindset - You have to be ready to make the necessary effort.
  2. Skills - You have to identify your strengths, your value-add.
  3. Design - Great implementation doesn't just happen, it's the result of a great plan!
Finally, we asked our participants to take these lessons to heart. We asked them to identify within themselves a sentence to describe how they approach their work. Click the image below for an image with all the amazing sentences we got back.


Hopefully this inspires you to go and figure out your own sentence and move forward! Good luck!

Some things I've learned about Twitter (Part 2)

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Ok, we covered some of the Twitter basics last week, now I want to talk a little about some of the more "advanced" features of Twitter. The beauty of Twitter is that it provides a wealth of information, but that's also it's curse. Without ways to narrow the stream of information to derive meaningful information you will end up wasting a lot of time. 

Trending Topics

Twitter tracks it's own "trending topics" which is a fancy way of saying these are the most popular topics being discussed on Twitter. There's probably a confusing algorithm somewhere that figures these things out, but for the purposes of this post, it's enough to say that this is the insta-buzz of what is happening in the world. A web-tool that I like to look at in conjunction with Trending Topics is What the Trend. This website attempts to briefly explain why a topic is trending and provides other useful information regarding trending topics. 

Recently, Twitter has taken steps to make this more relevant with the release of location-specific Trending Topics. Not every city is represented yet, however, you can at least specify a country if your city isn't listed. Going forward, this will be valuable tool for tracking what is going on in your own hometown without having to monitor thousands of twitter accounts and filtering international results that may not be relevant to you.

#Hashtags

Hashtags can be one of the more confusing pieces of Twitter. Many times, you'll read a Tweet and you'll see a hashtag embedded in the post.  A hashtag begins with the pound sign (#) and includes the word immediately following. For example - #learning #Twitter #TGIF and so on. So, why are they important? The most important reason I've found for using a hashtag is an attempt to organize Tweets from different sources around a topic or an event. For example, #sxsw is a tag to identifies a post relating to the annual South By Southwest conference. If you attended the conference, chances are you saw people pounding out Tweets on their handheld gadgets and one of the easiest ways to follow the conference was to setup a search for the #sxsw hashtag.  Otherwise, you would be looking for specific speakers, topics, location, etc., if you wanted to stay on top of the happenings down in Austin.

One of the major problems is figuring out what the hashtag even means. In a world where you have to communicate your message in 140 characters or less each character has to convey the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of space. Let's just say that acronyms abound in this world. So how do you get the most out of this feature?
  • Don't go overboard - not every Tweet needs a hashtag. 
  • Give them some context - especially if you are using an acronym. (e.g., Can't wait for the Social Media Conference next week #SMC2010)
  • Be sure the hashtag adds value to your Tweet - both to yourself and those who will read your Tweet.
In our business at WieseLaw, we are constantly on the lookout for trending topics and hashtags relating to Contracts, Negotiation, Mediation, Attorneys, Lawyers, etc. Utilizing trending topics and hashtags is a great way to manage and search the information coming in from all corners of the world in order to derive some meaningful connections.

There are literally thousands of tools, apps, widgets, etc. out there to take advantage of Twitter and to help you make sense of what's being said. I hope these two blog entries have given you a jumping off point for becoming part of the conversation. Good luck!

Some things I've learned about Twitter (Part 1)

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OK, let me say, first and foremost: I am NOT a social media expert. There, that feels so much better. Having said that, I have been plugging away faithfully, trying to learn about what works and doesn't work so well in the realm of social media and I like to think I've learned a few things. I'm going to focus specifically on how I view and use Twitter to narrow the focus a bit.

Lesson #1: Find a Good Way To Manage What You See
One of the funny things about Twitter is that the basic interface provided is practically unusable once you start following more than a handful of frequent updaters. The problem is that you will see so many tweets pass by with each refresh that you will miss most tweets throughout the day. There are a couple of ways to deal with this problem.  First, you can keep your list of people that you follow down to a bare minimum. But, this pretty much defeats the purpose of participating in a social network. Second, you can use some of the functionality built into Twitter combined with the plethora of desktop applications available.  For example, I use the list functionality in Twitter to categorize people I follow. I have a list for other attorneys, people who live in the Twin Cities/Minnesota, writers, etc. I combine this with Tweetdeck in such a way that each list has its own column so I can easily find out what the other attorneys are talking about or what is going on in the Twin Cities.

The primary takeaway here is that you need to figure out a way to take the firehose of information and filter it down to something that a human can actually understand. Tweetdeck isn't your only choice either, find what works for you!

Lesson #2 Be Mindful of What You Say on Twitter
In the early days of working with Twitter I really didn't know what I was doing and it showed. I had a hard time figuring out what I could say that was meaningful in 140 characters. I still can't claim that I'm some kind of Twitter master, but I sure know what doesn't work. This feels more like a list, so here goes:
  • Don't mindlessly repeat quotes from other people. Especially if they only tangentially related to what it is you do in the real world. This isn't to say that an inspirational quote or two is a bad thing, but definitely keep it to a minimum and, if possible, be sure it ties into your business and/or reason for being on Twitter. You and I know Ghandi was amazing, I just don't need to see every thing he ever said up on my timeline EVERY DAY.
  • Don't let your first contact with a new person be a sales pitch. I'm not 100% sure where I heard this, but treat Twitter like you would a party, mixer, etc. Twitter is a great place to make connections, get interesting ideas and build friendships. If you met a person in an informal setting such as a party and the first thing they said to you was "Learn how to grow your Twitter following and make ca$h!" I'm pretty sure you'd think they were a bit off.
  • Don't make the mistake of assuming that everyone is interested in you. Take an interest in others! It's a simple thing that goes a long way to boosting your reputation. React to what others are talking about and contribute to the conversation.
Stay tuned for Part 2, I'll talk a bit more about Twitter Search, Trending Topics, Hashtags and what I think works in the Twitter world!