The Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference is just around the corner. I’ve got my flight, my hotel, my conference registration, and my custom badge ribbons ready to go. But before we all head out, there are a few things we should all be doing to prepare so that we make the most of the conference, our time, and our opportunities.

From a post last year:

We all attend professional conferences. Some are close-knit groups, such as the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference; others will have 10s of thousands in attendance, and take over a whole city (ACC Annual Meeting, CES, NRF’s Big Show).

Sometimes we will know no one attending, other times hundreds due to our level of involvement in the organization.

No matter how many people you know or don’t know, speaker or not, first time attendee or not, you need to prepare to maximize the time you will be there, and out of the office.

I start to prepare for a conference  approximately two weeks or so before my departure. When I say I do these things, I really do them, and I coach others to do so as well for one reason: They work.

YUP, gonna make you click to the original post to read more … 

Don’t be a lurker. 6 Things to Do BEFORE Attending a Conference

What it comes down to is that we’re all really busy trying to get out of the office. Many of us will be distracted at the conference by the office. But your firm is spending good money to send you. Take advantage of the opportunity. However, it’s a big conference, with a lot of people, and a homecoming with old friends. Planning today will make your experience all the better.

If you’re looking for me, here’s my schedule:


  • Flying in with the Sports Dude and headed to the pool. Trying to gather some people for dinner and a show (DM me if interested in going).


  • CMO Summit on Monday. Then I’ll meet up with my First Time Attendee Mentees at the First Timers Reception, then we’ll head over to the full reception, and then I have dinner plans.


  • I’m doing the AI Track. Really looking forward that. All the breakouts for networking in the exhibit hall (looking forward to winning some prizes), and off to the reception. Playing it by ear Tuesday night.


  • After everyone wishes me happy birthday and bestows upon me lots of gifts, I’m headed to a couple more sessions before flying home so my kids can bestow me with gifts as well.

Thursday will be spent getting caught up in the office, sharing great content, and preparing to head out again on Sunday for the ALA Annual Conference where Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I will be presenting on Generational Marketing: Strategies and Tactics for Engaging Different Generations.

Heather Morse LMAWell, they listened. Last week I encouraged LMA members to not leave their passion behind, and so far, they haven’t disappointed. To quote Danny Zuko: “It’s electrifyin’!” The conference is packed. We’re at about 1200 registrants. The venue is beautiful, and the layout is conducive to getting to the sessions, networking. We even have some fresh daylight. The coffee sucks, but a Starbucks is about to open any moment. From the Twitter feed, the pre-conference sessions went well. The First Timers reception was packed. They turned the lights off to get us to leave the opening reception. I’m seeing sweaty people from Darryl Cross‘ workout walking around. People can’t wait to hear Prof. David Wilkins, Director, Program on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School. I am so torn between the four sessions at the first break out. Great topics and great friends speaking. It really is electrifyin’! and the conference officially hasn’t even begun. Lucky for us, what happens in Vegas won’t be staying in Vegas. If you’re not here, follow along on Twitter. Oh, and registration is already open for the 2014 conference. I’ll be there!

I know. I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been really busy and I am trying to clear my plate at work, at home, with the Girl Scout troop so I can really enjoy my time at the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference, in Las Vegas!!

I’m starting to go over the conference schedule, and one thing that is jumping out at me is that our personal passions are coming out, and we’re sharing them with our fellow LMA members:

Side note: The Mob Museum in downtown is AWESOME. Give yourself several hours in there. Catch up with me at LMA and I’ll even tell you about my family’s Vegas mob connections.

  • The Sports Dude is tagging along, and you’ll be able to find him at any given poker tournament.
  • There will be a Tweet-Up to meet your favorite LMA Tweeters (and lurkers): You can join in on the fun Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Gold Lounge at the Aria.
  • Oh, if you get in on Saturday, they’ll be a bunch of us hanging out by the pool. Tweet a message to #LMA13. We’ll save you a lounge chair.

(FYI – I do have a few extra boxes of Girl Scout cookies. I’ll bring some with me … Tweet a message to @heather_morse. No Thin Mints. Sorry.)

Looking forward to seeing everyone next week.

(Image:Matthias Clamer/Stone+/Getty)

I broke out of my legal marketing industry bubble this week and have been attending the Chief Marketing Officer Institute in Vegas. For fun and comfort, I dragged along Adam Stock and Jonathan Fitzgarrald.

The CMO Institute has been a small and intimate, yet high-level and well-crafted event. Sure, there have been some misses from the podium, but, for the most part, my Curious George has been satisfied.

It’s been amazing, invigorating, eduational, and fun.

It’s encouraging,validating, and a bit frightening to realize we laugh at the same jokes: “Who’s department is seen as a cost center,” hahaha.

It’s been rewarding as I sat and brainstormed a challenge I had with CMOs from different industries and sectors and realized they had fresh solutions for me, and at other times validated my assumptions.

It’s been eye-opening to speak with my counterparts in the companies that my firm represents. Hello? Bueller? Bueller??? Makes sense. Right?? Enough GC Roundtables. I want to see CMO Rountables.

Not only did I make some new friends (Steve, Heather, you know I am talking about you), I found a new blog to follow Common Sense of Business.

Along with a couple products that I think could migrate easily into legal, Domo and Marketo, I also have some great content swirling around my head just waiting to be turned into blog posts, (must.write.before.I.forget).

I still have a few more sessions today before heading out to Chicago for the LMA Board meeting, where it’s supposed to be a high of 61* today, and a high of 19* on Thursday. What the hell is THAT??

I think I will bring a better me to Chicago (still bitching about the weather). A more passionate me (you guys are warned, lol). A more engaged me.

For my personal “marketing me,” I will continue to add non-legal marketing programs like the Chief Marketing Officer Institute, to my mix.

The intimacy of the event allowed me to quickly meet new colleagues, and have some insightful, funny and memorable conversations and experiences, bring back new ideas to help me do my job better, and some new friends.

Can’t beat that. Except for the LMA Annual Conference coming up in April.

Jonathan and I have been tweeting at #CMOInstitute if you’d like to follow along today, or get an idea of what we’ve been experiencing and capturing over the past couple days.

circle of networkingAs I make the rounds of speaking to my partners about their 2013 plans the topic of “What conferences and industry events are you looking at attending?” will definitely be a key point of conversation. Once I get their list, I’ll follow up with, “Have you attended this event in the past?” And then, “Can you talk to me about why this conference is on your radar? What makes it important for your networking and business development?” And the kicker: “Can you point to any new business opportunities or leads that have come out of your participation in this conference?” I want to know and understand why the attorney is taking time out of their week to attend the conference, losing all those billable hours. If the answer to the final question is no, I want to know why. I need to understand why the firm should continue to underwrite their attendance if nothing is coming of it. Sometimes a conference has lost it’s mojo. Perhaps it has become too vendor heavy? Perhaps the attendees have shifted and the decision makers are no longer there? If so, it’s time to let it go and move on. However, if it’s still a great event, we need to understand why they are not converting their attendance into new relationships, which can then be converting into new business. Thom Singer had a great post this week: Networking Mistakes Being Made At Almost Every Conference. His seven mistakes are:

  1. Spending too much time with coworkers and other friends.
  2. Seeking time with celebrity speakers, industry gurus and other VIPs.
  3. Talking too much.
  4. Paying attention to electronics.
  5. Skipping keynotes and other sessions.
  6. Expecting a short conversation to make someone part of a network.
  7. Arriving late, leaving early, or skipping the networking time altogether.

I’ll add a couple of my own:

  1. Avoiding the exhibitors in the exhibit hall. Sure, they are there to sell a product. But they can be great conduits to further introductions. Think “referral network.”
  2. Not participating in the social media surrounding a conference. Go to the conference website. How many have Twitter accounts? Follow. What’s the hashtag? Learn it. Use it. Tweet it.  Start communicating with and following others going to the conference. Same thing with Facebook and LinkedIn. You’ll be amazed at the conference within the conference. I wrote about my experience in this post, Me, Twitter, LMA and Laura Gutierrez.
  3. Identify connections to make before leaving your office. Who is going to the conference besides you? Many conferences will pre-publish an attendee list. If not, check last year’s conference. Who do you know who regularly attends? Call and make those lunch and dinner plans weeks in advance. If they’re too busy, plan to meet for coffee, or attend one of the sessions together.
  4. Not following up AFTER the conference. Collect every business card you can. Grab the conference attendee list (usually in one of the handouts). Start connecting with everyone who has a LinkedIn account, including the speakers and keynotes. I have yet to have someone NOT connect after an event. Just make sure to send a personalized message.
  5. Continuing to develop those new relationships. It’s just not enough to connect with someone on LinkedIn. Now you need to establish that relationship. You do so by keeping your LinkedIn account alive. Post your recent article and achievements to your profile (this blog post will automatically be added to my profile, with a customized message, when I hit publish). I just had a former colleague contact me to have lunch because she saw an update of mine on her LinkedIn updates.
  6. Is it time to upgrade your investment? Some conferences are fine to attend and network. But is this conference a great opportunity where the firm should be a sponsor? What about hosting a client/prospect dinner?
  7. Double down on your involvement. If the organization or conference is a great fit for you and your practice/business, volunteer to get involved. The 2014 conference committee will be hard at work immediately after the 2013 conference ends. See how you can get more involved. If a trade group, volunteer for a committee, and work your way up the leadership ladder. If a stand-alone conference, start to develop relationships with the conference organizers so you can get on next year’s dais, or 2015 if need be.

With any type of networking opportunity, you will never get anything out of it if you don’t invest your time and effort. I am fond of saying, “The answer is always no if you don’t ask.” When it comes to networking, the business opportunities are always nothing if you don’t make the investment. If you have great conference attendance tips, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.

TRUST. If you ask me, the first rule of our profession is trust.

Without trust we cannot do much in our firms. Without trust we cannot learn and share with one another. Without trust we cannot mentor, or be mentored, by the incredible leaders of our profession, who are still around. Which says a lot about who we are as a community.

We had a breach in trust yesterday.

I started a Facebook group for legal marketers a year or so ago. I had a question I needed to ask. I should have known the answer, but I didn’t. I didn’t want it posted in a public forum where it would live there forever. So I started a group with a dozen or so of my legal marketing friends. Not all LMA members.

I invited my friends to invite their friends, and the group has now grown to 257. I don’t even know a lot of these folks. But I still feel comfortable openly sharing. If I trust you, and you trust your friend, then I trust your friend.

Per Facebook rules, the group is “secret” so that our conversations remain completely private on our personal walls, but is open to all to join. (If you want to join the group, send me a message on Facebook).

But whether on Facebook, in an e-mail thread, at an LMA meeting, or a board meeting, we legal marketing professionals openly share with one another.

We don’t collude or plot, but we share our difficulties and frustrations that come with our jobs, and seek out solutions to our challenges from our peers.

This level of trust amongst us has allowed us to create something really, really special: friendships.

I count amongst my closest friends members of my profession and/or professional association. Some are service providers. Some are competitors. Some are true peers.

These close friendships allow me to not only do my job better, but allow me to be a better and more authentic Heather.

I trust you to see the vulnerable me. The real me.

When I am mentoring new members of our profession, I always start by telling them about this trust thingie we have going on. How you can pick up the phone and call anyone. How you can ask a stupid question.

In the past 14+ years that I have been doing this, I can honestly say that breaches in trust are few and far between, but the damage one breach can cause can be immense, and can do great harm.

However, I would caution all of us to not allow these rare breaches of trust to impair our culture of trust. It’s what makes us special. It’s what makes us a better community. It’s what makes us better legal marketers. And it’s what makes us better friends.

Nancy's Mom
I woke up this morning to the sad news that my friend Nancy Myrland‘s dear mother had passed away:

God welcomed his newest angel at 4:35 a.m. He couldn’t have given me a better mother. I will miss her dearly.

That’s the message Nancy posted publicly on her Twitter account. Privately, several of us from the legal marketing community received a different message via Facebook messenger, as we have been doing all we can to support Nancy from our little corners of this big country. I’m not sure about your experience, but social networking has expanded my life in ways I never could have imagined when I logged on to Twitter for the first time back in 2008; and, yet, at the same time, it has brought my entire world into the palm of my hand via my iPhone. For me, these past few years have been about finding a balance between public and private. And, I do believe, we are all capable of sharing portions of our personal lives without over sharing. How we conduct ourselves within our social networks says a lot about how we conduct ourselves in our business interactions. It is a reflection of our character. Why would we want to hide that part of ourselves? I assure you, what I share on Twitter is much different than what I share on my Facebook wall, which is different than what I share in private groups or messages. Contrary to my daughters’ complaints, I don’t share EVERYTHING they do on Facebook. A few years ago I went through a divorce. My ex-husband and I are very active in, and share, the same support network. It would have been insensitive and wrong for me to publicly or privately take my complaints, problems, and resentments with the divorce there. I was able to turn to my social network for the support I needed. Through Facebook and Twitter, I found the friends (old and new) I needed to help guide me through what could have been the worst days of my life, without compromising the respect the father of my children deserved. I was able to walk through my divorce with my dignity intact because: 1) I had a network of people standing behind me, both publicly and privately, supporting me all the way; 2) I was mindful and measured in what I shared publicly and privately, without compromising my authenticity and what I was going through.; and, 3) I knew “you” were watching me. And THAT is so important to remember. How we conduct ourselves on our social networks says a lot about how we conduct ourselves in our business interactions. You never know who is watching you online. You never know who is filing away your experience, and who might have need to call on you for assistance — professional or personal — down the line. I cannot tell you how many people have called me in the past couple years who are contemplating or going through a divorce. In fact, I spent my afternoon yesterday on Facebook, on two private message streams, supporting a friend who came home to a process server and a 400-page document from her husband who had just filed for divorce. My friend included me in her short list of friends for support due in part to how I conducted myself during my divorce on line. I’ve had my eye on Nancy and her family for the past several months. I know that one day I will be walking through her shoes, and I’ve been watching her closely. Nancy and her siblings have been exemplary in their dedication to their mother. Nancy has literally been by her mother’s side, day and night, for what seems like months. I’ll tell you one thing, knowing Nancy, I would have expected nothing less from her. Will I be able to be that selfless? I hope so. Today, both my parents are alive and well. Mr. Morse is off golfing (it’s Sunday, after all), having celebrated his 75th jubilee this past week in Palm Springs (because there was no snow in Mammouth). My mom is living her best years as well in Tennessee, sending pictures back to us in California of this strange thing they have there called snow. I am so fortunate in that I have never had to walk through either of my parents EVER being ill, but I know that I will one day.

(l-r) Gina, Me, Lindsay, Gail, Nancy, Laura and Tim.
I also know that I will get through it because Nancy, Tim, Gail and Gina have all done so before me. I also know I will not walk through it alone, because whether they are by my side, or in the palm of my hand, my friends and support system are never far away. To Nancy, my deepest sympathy on the loss of your beloved mother. Thank you for the honor of being your friend. Thank you for walking through these painful days with dignity and grace. Thank you for sharing with us your love and affection for your mother. Thank you for sharing with us your siblings, who are as lovely and wonderful as you. All of which, I am certain, stems from your wonderful, wonderful mother.

I can’t believe I have to say this again: Politics, social networking and business development DON’T MIX!! Never. Ever. Ever. I don’t care if you’re talking about saving puppies and unicorns, I caution you to self-edit what you say on Facebook, Twitter, or even on locked-down message boards. Why? According to the latest Gallup Poll on Party Affiliation this country is pretty evenly spit politically. What does this mean?? It means that anytime you mention politics in a social media or networking environment you risk alienating 46-54% of your target market, and you might never know it. I’m talking about, oh, you know, your clients, your potential clients, your referral sources, your influencers, your employers, potential employers, conference organizers, reporters, etc. Why do people continue to do this?? According to Jayne Navarre, it sometimes comes down to what might be a false sense of “trust” earned:

The social media space, in many regards, is a fertile ground for influencers and trust agents, however they must earn it. (skip) [Jayne believes that one earns that positioning] not by broadcasting (shouting) antagonistic messages, but rather through thoughtful contribution and community appropriate discussions.

Am I saying not to discuss politics and other “controversial” issues within your personal and professional (social) networks. No. You just need to do it one-on-one and discretely with people you know share your thoughts and opinions. Let’s bring it back to “real world” situations, such as around the water cooler at work. I have many a time been chatting politics with like-minded colleagues to see someone quietly and uncomfortably grab a cup of coffee or glass of water and walk away. We know that they do not agree with our political points. But in this scenario, we can see the non-verbal clues that let us know what actions to take to remedy the situation. At a cocktail party or reception it is easy to see your prospect “check out” when the conversation turns passionate and heated. You might see a client stand up to “get a drink” and never come back. Lesson learned. At the recent LMA conference, I saw people get up and walk out of the conference hall when the key-note speaker introduced the “non-political” topic of global warming. The displeasure of this group also made it onto Twitter in direct messages with like-minded colleagues, and via the conference hashtag. I was amazed at how many people thought those offended were being too “sensitive,” since “he didn’t offend me.” I would caution you to always keep in mind these unique challenges when it comes to politics and social networking:

  • You cannot see the faces of those you have offended, and therefore apologize or alter the direction of the conversation.
  • You will never know that you have lost your position of “influencer” or “trust agent.”
  • Once you post something within a social media or networking environment, it is there forever. You cannot take it back or erase it.

Jayne’s personal experiences sum things  up well for the point of this discussion, as well as provides constructive advice:

Finally, while Facebook is a more casual environment and there are many opportunities to speak out on your political positions, anyone that does so should understand that there are consequences. In my network some Friends are passionate about their politics but deliver their messages privately to their appropriate Lists or specific individuals. On the other hand, I have some attorney “Friends” in my network who wear their political passions on their sleeve and whether I agree with them or not, it is offensive to me. Further, they have no clue who they are offending, and maybe that’s their point. When Facebook comments appear on my wall that offend me, I immediately “LIST” that person to my “Limited View” List which has very tight settings. If they do that on Twitter, I dump em.

Personally, I think twice (or ten times) before I reply to a political thread on Facebook or Twitter. Many time I have really debated whether or not to become a fan of someone, or join a political group. If I decide to fan or join the group,  because I really want to follow the message, I will often times immediately delete the “activity” from my Wall. As for adding my voice to a political discussion, there are times that I will do so privately, or, when on a public wall, I will always maintain my respect for the other side’s position, and make certain that I stick to facts, avoiding passionate rhetoric or attacks. What I have found is that I am able to have these types of conversations with friends from “across the aisle” which allow us to deepen our relationships, without alienation. All of this being said, “You should not be allowed to claim diplomatic immunity when you’re a low-level a** hole.”

I’ve been touting the idea that, when all things being equal, clients hire attorneys that they know, like and trust, for quite a while now.

Numerous surveys and studies tell us that clients hire lawyers (not law firms) and they hire lawyers they know, like and trust. Well, there it is! Marketing legal services is all about being known, liked and trusted by people in the position to hire or refer you. But relationships don’t happen by accident. They must be grown and cultivated over time.

John Remsen, The Remsen Group

And while I am certain that this idea is not new to John,  he’s the first one I saw use it where lawyers and business development intersect. Hmmm. Turns out that the idea of building a rapport with your client isn’t just good for the legal industry. Jeffrey Gitomer has a great post Rapport is elusive business currency. Find it, build it, and bank it.

Jeffrey, In your presentation you said if you can’t build rapport, don’t start. I deal with attorneys. What is your recommendation if a prospect just won’t build rapport? Kevin Kevin, If an attorney prospect “just won’t build rapport,” it’s because you haven’t asked them the right rapport building questions. Ask about the toughest case they’ve ever had, or the reason they chose to get into law, or the most rewarding part about their career. Ask something significant about them. I’ve never met anyone that won’t spend a minute or two talking about themselves. Many salespeople make fatal mistakes trying to establish rapport around “things” – the weather, the ball game, the economy, or the news. That’s not rapport; that’s idle chatter. Real rapport has an emotional base to it. And it comes from the prospect’s personal experience, personal opinion, and personal wisdom. The key to earning rapport is keeping it light, and keeping it positive. There’s a secret of rapport, and the secret is “the link” – finding things in common that you both know about and like. The easiest example is children who are the same age, or having gone to the same college. These are both things you can talk about with a smile, and then move on to business. Professional people tend to be self-indulgent people. When you walk into their offices, their statues, trophies, and educational achievements are always in plain view. As are pictures of their family. Whenever I go into an office, I take a moment to walk around, not just look around. I look at educational achievements, other awards, and family photos. Sometimes the first question I ask is, “How old are your children?” because oftentimes the photograph will be several years old. Whatever it is that I’m looking at, I try to ask a question that will elicit personal information, personal history, or some type of positive emotional response.

It’s all about the PERSONAL CONNECTIONS people. It’s about uncovering those little nuggets of COMMONALITY where we can BOND at a different level. I cannot tell you how many people begin conversations with me around Girl Scouts and cookie sales (they just ended by the way … my troop rocked it!!). So many conversations with elementary school parents in Los Angeles begin with “what are you thinking about doing for middle school?” Coolerites, my greatest suggestion is to marry your personal and professional lives. Of course, social networking lends itself so well to this. Take Facebook. Think of your Facebook page as a party at your home. You’ve invited friends from different elements of your life into one room. Don’t offend anyone by overly discussing politics or religion (or the national health care bill). Introduce people who should meet. Don’t be afraid to discuss business, and don’t be afraid to discuss what’s happening in your personal life. Share links to the blog post you just wrote for the firm, the conference you’re about to attend, the vacation you’re about to take, the movie you just saw. As I mentioned last week, one of my highlights from the LMA conference was sitting at dinner when everyone pulled out their smart phones and started friending one another on Facebook. And, as Gina Rubel is right to point out, we’re still carrying on the conversations. Let people get to know you. Get to like you. Get to trust you. Who knows? You might end up building a rapport with your clients that <gasp> leads to new business.

I just walked back into my office after spending four days at the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference where I spoke on panel, organized the LMA Tweeters, and have volunteered for the 2011 conference advisory committee. I returned to my office this morning to find hundreds of emails that need to be processed, 1000+ new posts in my reader, and a blinking light on my phone. All of which begs the question: where to begin? Here’s how I’m going to tackle my day:

  1. If it takes 2 minutes or less, I’ll do it now (thanks David Allen & Getting Things Done).
  2. Take care of any urgent or time-constrained matters.
  3. Return all partner/attorney calls and e-mails.
  4. Review the 50+ new Followers I have on Twitter, and FOLLOW all the  legal-related tweeps.
  5. Review the LMA registration list and CONNECT on LinkedIn with as many people as I can find.
  6. FRIEND on Facbook all those I am ready to introduce into my personal world.
  7. Get my expense report done.