One of the most popular and heavily visited blog posts I've published is the summary of what social media I read, visit and engage on a daily basis. Those who know me are quite aware that I incorporate social networking in my professional and personal life, and the most common question I'm asked is, "How do you possibly find the time?" Well, simply put, I make the time. I've always felt that weaving together disparate points of information, connecting dots that others don't see, has given me a strategic advantage in my professional life because occasionally I see trends and opportunities before others. I also find value in connecting people when such a connection benefits both parties. And so I read a lot, from many sources. I'm not as consistent as I once was, but I try to spend a little time every day, usually in small doses throughout the day, staying on top of news and developments in my field, updating and sharing some of these tidbits with my networks, and skimming what others in my network have shared. When viewed in the aggregate, it can be a daunting and exhausting effort to stay on top of it -- it's not uncommon, for example, to open my Google Reader on a weekend after a busy week and find over 1,000 unread items.
But I learned a lesson long ago that has helped me immensely. I have always been reluctant to start a book or magazine unless I'm prepared to finish all of it, which means I need both the time and the inclination to dive in fully committed. But I eventually learned that this is a dumb rule. So now I happily pick up a magazine and read the one or two or ten articles that interest me rather than read it cover to cover. If I'm three chapters into a book and I simply can't muster the energy or interest to continue, it goes on the shelf. I no longer feel any guilt putting something down and moving on. This has freed me to skim a large volume of sources, selecting those which interest me for further investigation, and literally scrolling past the rest.
But an unexpected downside of incorporating a high volume of reading materials into my daily life is that I'm more desensitized to what others may find unusual or interesting because when I've seen twenty references to some tidbit in fifteen different sources over the course of two weeks, it may appear commonplace to me when in fact it's still on the fringe and weeks (or months or years!) away from common knowledge. For example, I vividly recall conducting a Legal Project Management workshop for a group of law firm partners a couple years ago, and not only were they unaware of this growing trend, they didn't even know what the terms meant. I had forgotten that many lawyers look to precedent to learn, rather than look outside their own experience.
Nevertheless, I'd rather read too much than too little. But choices must be made. And so I divide my time across a variety of social networks, reading multiple news sources and blogs, never knowing which might be valuable to me today. Following is a list of the social networks and reading sources I visit daily, or as close as I can get.
LinkedIn - I maintain a robust profile here, having achieved 100% on the completeness meter, for whatever that's worth. I tend to research my business connections, such as clients, prospective clients or people who send me resumes. The fact of the matter is everyone will research you and me sooner or later, so I feel we might as well put our credentials out there for review. As for contacts, I now have over 700 connections, of which I have instant recall of probably no more than 70%. I tend to invite attendees at my workshops and speeches to connect with me, which means my network is full of people I don't really know. But LinkedIn provides a handy notes tool which allows me to capture a few thoughts about each contact. Lastly, I will readily offer my network to those interested in finding a job or making a connection, as in "Review my connections and if there's someone you'd like to meet let me know." Few do, suggesting that networking is still a scary proposition whether online or virtual.
Facebook - I spend a few moments on here each day, typically posting some inane comment about what I'm doing, skimming what my friends and family are doing, and occasionally offering comments. I never ever play Facebook games. I can't imagine why anyone would care that last Saturday I played two hours of basketball at the gym, folded four loads of laundry and watched a soccer game on TV. But it amuses me endlessly that others find this interesting and so I continue to share. Facebook has turned into a proxy for class and family reunions and annual birthday phone calls, because now I know what my friends and family are up to, even the distant connections I haven't seen in twenty years, so we don't need to catch up. Being more aware isn't the same as being closer, however.
Twitter - I have over 800 followers on Twitter, and I'm listed as a "must read" on several lists of legal industry pundits, but I don't actively attend to this network like I used to. I don't believe in the "If you follow me I'll follow you" trend, so I follow only 350 or so, and of these I really only keep track of a few dozen. I like Twitter, and it's a very handy search tool as well as an invaluable tool when attending (or not attending) a conference, but it takes time to navigate through the noise and at the moment it's not capturing my attention as in the past.
Legal OnRamp - I'm a big fan of this network and I've spent time with its founder, Paul Lippe. I had the good fortune of being part of the Counsel Connect team, which was a social network for lawyers in the early '90s, well before its time, so I'm a fan of the format and LOR improves upon the model in many ways. This network is fantastic with robust content, good debates and a number of compelling private offerings for member firms. I don't participate so much lately as lurk, but I do enjoy the spirited discussions.
Martindale Connected - I like this network too, though it was late to the party and therefore it hasn't really ever entered my daily regimen. I've participated in a few discussions, and I was invited to offer feedback on the last redesign, but -- and I could be totally wrong here -- it seems to skew more toward the small firm audience, whereas I spend most of my time with big firms. Martindale-Hubbell has always offered excellent networking tools, and its shift from directory to social network has been somewhat lengthy and painful, but I have every reason to believe this network will become ever more robust and engaging over time.
LMA Connect - This is the official online community of the Legal Marketing Association. Several years ago this particular configuration replaced an easy-to-use email listserve with a somewhat clunkier online interface, which seemed to inhibit usage. I believe at the time the organization also chose not to automatically enroll all members in the online community, preferring to allow members to self-select which forums to join. The net effect is that traffic is much lower than it once was, but it really is a must-read forum for all topics related to legal marketing and business development.
Lawmarketing Listserve - This is one facet of the robust online community created by legal marketer turned entrepreneur Larry Bodine. I've been a member of this listserve since 1996 and with few exceptions I've skimmed every posted comment by every legal marketer on every topic for the last fourteen years. I can think of few better ways to stay on top of the pulse of legal marketing than to listen to legal marketers.
Google Reader - I use this as my RSS reader, and it works equally well on my PC, my Blackberry and my Android PDA. I love the simplicity, which allows me to quickly skim hundreds of news articles or blog posts in a very short period of time, marking some for future reading, sharing or saving.
Here are the feeds that I monitor daily, with explanations where the content is not self-evident:
I also read two local print newspapers each day, the Trenton Times and the Trentonian. (I also do both crossword puzzles, typically within 20 minutes, except for the syndicated and much harder weekend editions!)
Legal News Law.com - Legal Technology Law.com - Newswire Wall Street Journal Law Blog Above the Law - a fascinating and unashamedly narcissistic legal tabloid that essentially lampoons Biglaw from the perspective of lawyers-turned-journalists
Economics Freakonomics - From the authors of the popular books, here one finds anecdotes of economic theories in use in daily life The Becker-Posner blog - One a noted University of Chicago economist, the other a noted Federal Judge, these two debate topics of the day from an economics perspective. Pour a cup of coffee and don your thinking cap before reading these articles MacroBuddies - A blog authored by my favorite macroeconomics professor, Farrokh Langdana of Rutgers University, and his MBA students and alumni
Law Departments In House Rants - written by an anonymous corporate lawyer, he or she shares frustrations with outside lawyers and their reportedly poor service and business skills. I very nearly deleted this because the author is sporadic and at times not very constructive... but then the title should have been a clue! InHouse ACCess - authored by The Association of Corporate Counsel leaders and member contributors. An excellent, constructive, rich source of information about the challenges of in-house counsel with practical guidance to outside lawyers on how to better serve their clients InHouse Blog - Law.com's collection of news and information for the in-house counsel community Law Department Management Blog - the gold standard in providing information to the in-house community, Rees Morrison offers a tremendous volume of insight from book reviews, to critical analysis of surveys and products, to thoughtful discussion of metrics and other operational issues for General Counsel
Management Financial Times Management Columnists - a roundup of the FT's management experts. I'm particularly fond of Stefan Stern
I've added and deleted quite a few sources from this Management list. There should be plenty of rich sources that fall between the Harvard Business Review and some anonymous rant, but I have difficulty finding good ones that help me grow as a manager and a leader. All suggestions welcome.
Legal Blogs - This is the real heart of my online reading, and I've added and deleted quite a few over the years. Again, all suggestions for good sources are welcome. 3 Geeks and a Law Blog - an enjoyable tour of topics from three legal professionals, one a Knowledge Management professional, one a Law Librarian and the other a lawyer/marketer Above and Beyond KM - written by V. Mary Abraham, a Biglaw Knowledge Management professional and lawyer, a great source of practical information about legal technology and its potential for improving the practice of law Adam Smith, Esq. - hands down one of the top blogs for anyone interested in law firm management. If you aren't reading author Bruce MacEwen's excellent insights, then you can't possibly be serious about improving your management skills and insights Bill's Blog - This blog is authored by American Lawyer Media CEO Bill Pollak and though it was originally intended for his employees only, he's developed quite a following of industry insiders who are as interested in his management style and use of social media from the board room as they are in his company Brand Thinking - interesting insights on law firm marketing from well-known law firm branding and advertising guru Burkey Belser College of Law Practice Management blog - this blog published by this prestigious group of legal industry thought leaders should be more robust, but alas many of the vocal Fellows (of which I'm one) publish their own blogs, so I keep this handy more for its potential than for its practical use at the moment Cotterman on Compensation - I've long been a fan of Altman Weil consultant Jim Cotterman's insights into law firm economics and finance, and as the world of associate and partner compensation is changing his insights are invaluable Decent Shred - a helpful smorgasbord of topics on legal technology, knowledge management and marketing by consultant Shy Alter Enlightened Tradition - a collection of UK legal KM manager Mark Gould's posts about knowledge management Get Creative - Merrilyn Astin Tarlton's musings on creativity, innovation and leadership Global Growth Guru - Consultant Doug Johnson's thoughtful insights on legal marketing and legal business management Hildebrandt Blog - Consultants from Hildebrandt Baker Robbins offer insights into a variety of legal industry topics Hubbard Perspective - commentary, insights and links from legal marketing technology leader Hubbard One ILTA blog - the feed from the leading association of legal technologists In Search of Perfect Client Service - Biglaw refugee Patrick Lamb launched his own small law firm focused on offering value in innovative ways to clients. His commentary here lampoons the traditional mindset of Biglaw lawyers and offers helpful tips for adding value in your own firm Inside Legal - Legal PR experts at Envision Agency offer news and commentary primarily about legal service providers Larry Bodine LawMarketing Blog - the aforementioned legal marketing veteran offers commentary gleaned from his consulting practice Law Consulting Blog - Veteran lawyer turned management consultant Cordell Parvin offers insights and commentary on the changing legal profession Law Firm 4.0 Blog - my longtime friend (and now competitor!) Deborah McMurray offers her usual insightful commentary on legal marketing Law Firm Competitive Intelligence - veteran legal CI expert Ann Lee Gibson offers occasional insights into the world of CI, gleaned from her many years helping law firms win competitive bids Law Firm Web Strategy - noted web marketing agency Stem Legal offers insights into legal marketing trends Law21 - The second on my absolute must-read list for anyone serious about law firm management. Jordan Furlong is a veteran journalist turned management consultant and his insights are informed by constant observation of law firms, their leaders and their foibles and successes. If my list weren't alphabetical this blog would be listed at the top LawBizBlog - Ed Poll is a lawyer, management consultant and mentor/coach to a long list of successful lawyers. I enjoy his writing more than his quirky videocasts, but his soft-spoken, well-informed commentary is perfect for lawyers who need advice but are afraid to ask for fear of being ridiculed. Ed is even more engaging in person. (Ask him about his 1968 Airstream trailer!) Legal Blog Watch - Two columnists rotate informative and often amusing commentary on legal news of the day Legal Current - from Thomson Reuters, news and links about the legal industry Legal Marketing Blog - veteran legal marketer Tom Kane, who's had stints in several Biglaw firms, preaches what he practices on this blog, a guide to help legal marketers and lawyers improve their business generation efforts Legal Marketing Canada - this blog might be labeled Jasinski on Legal Marketing, but I go by the name of the RSS feed. Lawyer and legal marketer Doug Jasinski offers insights particularly suited to Canadian lawyers and marketers Legal Marketing Reader - journalist Amy Campbell created this site to aggregate legal marketing articles. A great idea with a nice archive of very informative articles, though it isn't updated nearly enough Legal Process Outsourcing - an executive at outsourcing giant CPA Global offers insights into the growing LPO field Legal Transformation Blog - Lawyer turned consultant Joshua Kubicki offers excellent insights into the changing world of law firm operations Lloyd Pearson Blog - veteran legal directory editor turned law firm marketer turned consultant assists law firms with their communications and legal directory strategies. Here he occasionally provides insights into the ever-present and growing world of legal directories Martindale Blog - Martindale-Hubbell's face to the market offer insights into its offerings, social networking and other legal marketing topics Progressive Marketing - veteran legal marketer Russell Lawson offers his unique take on the state of legal marketing Rainmaker VT - good friends Mike O'Horo and Craig Levinson recently launched an innovative online approach to teaching business development skills to lawyers. In his blog they discuss legal business development tips and techniques Real Lawyers Have Blogs - former lawyer turned serial entrepreneur Kevin O'Keefe has been leading the charge on legal blogs for years. His stream of consciousness blog posts are an informative and often amusing look into how he thinks Strategic Legal Technology - Another must-read favorite of mine. Ron Friedmann has been involved in law firm technology since the days when "tech savvy" meant having a secretary with access rights to the one PC owned by the firm. His accumulated wealth of knowledge coupled with his personal experiences inside law firms and as a vendor to law firms is an incredibly valuable resource The Client Revolution - Jay Shepherd breaks new ground in practicing law with the client's needs in mind rather than his own billable hours. His insights are very helpful because they're based on his own experiences operating a law firm in a new way The Common Scold - a colleague from my days at American Lawyer, Monica Bay is one of the most respected legal technology journalists, serving as longtime editor of Law Technology News. Her insights on the state of legal technology, to legal vendors (never sell "solutions!") to her love affair with the New York Yankees are must-read, as making her "people on the move" update is a badge of honor The Legal Watercooler - Law firm marketer Heather Morse Milligan is a career counselor to hundreds of legal marketers who enjoy learning from her experiences and seeing the world of law and legal marketing through her eyes The Non-Billable Hour - Matt Homann makes you think outside the box, and even if you think you know it all, he'll help you learn something new. A fascinating guy with a fresh outlook on life and learning, his blog is a good consolation when you can't spend time with Matt in person The PR Lawyer - Philadelphia lawyer turned PR counsel Gina Furia Rubel practices what she preaches, using social media and traditional PR to promote her practice of helping law firms and small businesses promote themselves Thoughtful Legal Management - I really enjoy Canadian lawyer Dave Bilinksy's writing, in part because he's a veteran journalist, in part because his consulting practice and experience gives him a ringside seat to the many changes in law firm management and technology Virtual Marketing Officer - longtime friend Jayne Navarre offers her insights into legal marketing, particularly social media, gleaned from years of experience working inside and consulting to law firms. In fact, my own blog exists as a result of her very kind assistance Zen & the Art of Legal Networking - The International Lawyers Network has a tremendous resource in Lindsay Griffiths, who employs her impressive social media chops both promoting this association and discussing the use of social media
Other - a handful of sources that aren't easily categorized elsewhere @ErikJHeels - my old friend Erik is a lawyer, musician, technologist, who served as a legal technology journalist for a dozen years or more. He writes on all sorts of topics, from baseball to patent law to music to how he synchronizes his Gmail and Outlook Contacts (with diagrams) to housing rates in Eastern Massachusetts. An engaging writer, you never know what to expect The Dilbert Blog - If all you know of Dilbert creator Scott Adams is that he's a lousy artist, then you're missing out on a fascinating mind who writes from his perspective as an accomplished economist, cartoonist, technologist, atheist and hypnotist. While often funny, his writing more often makes you think Dr. B's Blog - I've retained Dr. Linda Burrs for multiple projects having to do with organizational dynamics, team work and selling skills. She has a corporate trainer background, and now helps businesses and people operate more effectively. I have hired her to conduct a practical Myers-Briggs workshop for every new team I've managed for over a decade... and I will do so again Musings on (Marching) Music - my kid sister Colleen Corcoran writes about her love of music and teaching music, particularly marching band (she's a drum corps national champion). I tell her she should write about how hard it is to find a job as a high school band director and marching band instructor when it seems like every school district has even more incompetent personnel policies and procedures than the last!. But she laughs it off and prefers to write of what she loves rather than what she must endure to pursue her passion. I envy her restraint! Seth's Blog - marketing guru Seth Godin offers frequent pearls of wisdom and occasional self-important drivel. He has a knack for forcing one to ask, "Why do we do things that way when there are far more effective approaches?" Set in Style - I very much enjoy writing coach Mister Thorne's often acerbic but always informative approach to urging lawyers and legal marketers to hire professionals to do their non-legal writing. You can't help but laugh when he points out the inefficiency of complex legalease when simple editing will produce more concise, effective prose The Pursuit of Arete - from the "people surprise me" department, my longtime friend and my former public relations consultant Daryn Teague offers some fascinating insights into politics, history, culture and the American way. We've shared many a beer over the years and I have a great respect for his intellect, but not once did I suspect he had these interests tins : Rick Klau's blog - I've known Rick since his first job out of law school, and since then he's been a rising star in whatever game he's played. Currently a rising executive at Google, Rick has been blogging for a very long time on topics that interest him, and since he's usually a couple years ahead of the curve they will probably interest you too eventually Tom Glocer's Blog - I began reading the Thomson Reuters CEO's blog a while ago, long before joining the company, because I'm fascinated by CEOs who take the time to engage the public. I've met more CEOs afraid of their own employees and terrified of customers, so finding one who's willing to engage so openly is refreshing (see Bill Pollak above)
Humor - There are about a dozen feeds which provide an endless stream of laughs. However, humor is a subjective thing and some may not be appreciated by my readers. Suffice it to say that an RSS reader can provide plenty of amusement in addition to education.
If I were more organized, I'd publish a list of what I've stopped reading, and why, because the list does change over time. But alas, interested readers will have to conduct this comparison on their own. You can read my previous social media updates here (2009) and here (2008).