Another episode of Mad Men, and another lesson for the lawyers in our midst. On his way to Acapulco for some much deserved R&R, our protagonist, Don Draper, stops off in Los Angeles for a 24-hour layover. When his colleague, Harry Crane, Head of Media, suggests that he spend some time at The Brown Derby with a client, Don immediately dismisses the idea, and Mr. Crane. This reminds me of so many conversations I have with the busy partners in my firm, outside my firm, and around the country. So many of you are “too busy” to market when out of town on business. Do any of these sound familiar??

  • You’re schedule is too packed to meet a client for a game, or dinner.
  • You’re rushing to get the “client” work done, finish that depo, close that deal, and are just too busy for business development.
  • You’re at the podium speaking at an industry conference, and your suitcase is in the corner, ready for you to grab so you can head off to the airport once the Q&A concludes.
  • You know you should go meet with a client while you’re in their town, but you hurry out of your last appointment hoping to catch an early flight to get home to your kids, to make that game, to enjoy dinner with your spouse or significant other.

The thing is, you know you should spend time enhancing your business relationships, but after spending a few days on the road, you’re tired and just ready to head on home. I get it. There’s a lot of idle chatter given to the idea of having a “work-life balance.” However, the conversation never takes into account an attorney’s minimum billable hours requirements, and the non-billable time it takes to land a new client, let alone write an article, prepare for a presentation, etc. I will argue here that there is no such thing as work-life balance and you need to get over it. Either your family/personal life will have to give, or work will. Period. You cannot give the attention to all things, at all times, that they deserve. You will have to make choices. Something, or someone, will have to give. As I said, I get it. I have two young children. A significant other. A household that needs to be run. I’m even the Girl Scout leader for a multi-level troop (Brownies and Juniors). When I’ve been traveling, there’s nothing better than catching an early flight and getting home before lights out. But that’s not always conducive to new business development and enhancing current relationships. Sometimes personal time needs to be sacrificed so that you can maintain, enhance and build those relationships that will make rain down the road. I get it. The pull of children, spouses, unkempt yards can be overwhelming … and, when looking at a full calendar that has met or exceeded your billable hours requirement, it’s easy to “give in” and head on home. Don’t you and your family deserve that time? Of course you do. However, marketing and business development are not about today … they are about the work to come. It’s about filling the pipeline so that when that trial settles, or the deal closes, your billable hours don’t tank. You have to resist the pull to get home early … at least some of the time. To minimize the impact of your business development on your personal (and highly important) time, here’s what I suggest: Once a quarter, extend a business trip by 24-hours. It’s easy to plan and negotiate this in advance with your spouse and kids to minimize the impact on them, and to maximize your efforts. Use this 24-hours to focus on your business development efforts. Take a client to a game on night one. Meet a potential new client for breakfast the next day. Take a referral source out to coffee. Meet with a former colleague, or perhaps a reporter, for lunch, and take another client out to an early dinner before heading to the airport to catch the LAST flight out of town. With proper planning, you might even be able to slip in a CLE program in a clients’ office (just repurpose one that you have already given at a recent conference). There. 24-hours. Maximized efforts. Maximized focus. Minimal disruption. In 24-hours your can make five or more important connections, enhancing relationships along the way. If you do this once a quarter, that’s 20 in-person connections.

Resist the urge to rush off to the airport

If you can’t do 24-hours, at least catch a later flight when traveling. After your presentation at the conference, stay through the cocktail reception to meet with attendees. After your depo concludes, pull out your “call” list and take someone to coffee. We all have time for a cup of coffee. We can rationalize to ourselves that relationships can be made through phone calls, e-mails, social media and social networking tools. True, connections are made this way; however, relationships are built with face-time. Schedule your in-person meetings, maximize the time out of town, and enjoy guilt-free time with your family and friends.

No one likes to think that they are a type, or so a psychologist told Don Draper last night in the latest episode of Mad Men. But, we’re all a type:

  • We all have personal and professional experiences that influence every decision we make, every day;
  • We all receive and digest information differently;
  • We all want what we want, versus what is expected of us.

For years, twelve or so now, I have listened to presentations of corporate counsel talking about what they want from their outside counsel. It rarely changes. I’ve listened to private practice attorneys talk about what they want (usually premium work and more billable hours) from corporate counsel. That never changes. I’ve listened to legal marketers trying to figure out how to get lawyers to interact with clients on the clients’ playing fields, and not the attorneys’. The only thing that changes here are the legal marketers. All kidding aside, over the years it seems to me that the only thing to have really changed in respect to client relations is the technology used to deliver the messages. We have gone from “Out of the Office” pink message pads to voicemail. Then came e-mail, and now text messages. We’ve gone from printed newsletters to PDFs to blogs. But we’re still conveying the same messages. And while the delivery methods have evolved, the senders and receivers of the messages have not. We’re all a personality type. Whether you subscribe to I-Speak (intuiter, thinker, feeler, sensor), Myers-Brigg (extravert/introvert; sensor/intuiter; thinker/feeler; judging/perceiving); DISC (dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientious), or a multitude of other personality systems, the goal is to get one type of person to work and communicate better with another type. All the systems, however, have one thing in common: By better understanding how we personally process and receive information, and by learning how to identify how others do the same, we best communicate and work with one another. The system works for inter-office relations, client teams, attorney/client management, beauty contests, sales calls, etc. Now, back to last night’s Mad Men and our star, Don Draper. While everyone around the conference table grabs a pencil and cookie on cue and begins filling in their bubbles, Don gets up, shakes the psychologist’s hand, apologizes and heads off to his office for a drink. He doesn’t see how understanding himself better will sell more Lucky Strikes. He IS Don Draper, after all. Unfortunately for Don, and for many lawyers, that’s his biggest problem. He cannot see the world through anyone’s perspective other than his own. He has created his world (his own personal sandbox), and everyone must play his game, his way, or get out … and, as we saw in last week’s episode, that goes for clients, too. Unfortunately, this style doesn’t work for the rest of the world (and, really, I don’t think it’s working too well for Don either). For us, I believe by understanding how WE see the world; how WE make decisions; how WE handle stressful situations; how WE prefer to receive, process and deliver information, we can then better understand how our clients and potential clients will do the same. By way of example, I am quite certain that I am as self-absorbed as the next person. It was incredibly enlightening to discover at my first real job after college, that not everyone is an ENTJ like myself, or an intuitor, or a driver. Over the years I have taken many self-assessments during training and coaching sessions. As I have better come to understand myself, I have been able to look at my co-workers in a different light, respecting our personality differences, and differing styles of work. I see how we complement one another, and how, at times, we unknowingly work against one another when we do not compromise our styles. And while some might think the following a form of manipulation, I have found that by understanding the different personality styles and types about me, I can better manage (package) the way I deliver information so that those about me, especially my CLIENTS (who are the attorneys in my firm, and for the most part are thinkers),  can better receive the messages I am trying to convey. Last night Roger Sterling summed it up this way: “It’s a great job … except for one thing … the clients.” I will sum it up like this: “The clients, and all of their differing personality styles and types, make my job great!!” Well, at least it’s never boring.

Like most of my Facebook friends, I sent the kids to bed at a decent hour last night and engrossed myself in the season premier of Mad Men. For those who missed it and have it DVR’d — this isn’t so much a SPOILER ALERT, but a discussion of a truism that popped up mid-way through the episode. For those who don’t watch the show, not to worry. This isn’t so much a post about Mad Men, but about legal marketing and the responsibility of the lawyer. Don Draper, ad man extraordinaire, blew an interview with Ad Age. He didn’t toot his own horn. He didn’t toot the horn of the firm. He didn’t mention the clients. His aloofness came across as arrogance … challenging the reporter to “do his job,” yet giving up no details. When confronted by his partners, Don defiantly holds onto he’s “Don Draper” and his work speaks for itself. He shouldn’t have to do the job of the reporter, finding out about clients, or how the firm created the latest ad. His partners disagreed. This interview was an advertisement for the firm, and now it was a liability. Senior partner Bertram Cooper admonished Don:

Turning creative success into business is your work.

Wow. How simple, succinct, and so very true. Yes, lawyers, that’s what it comes down to. It is YOUR job to turn YOUR success into new BUSINESS. The marketing department and the business development team can open doors, help create opportunities, make the reservations, help fill the table, get the reporter on the line, get you in the room. But, once the doors close, the hands are shaken, and the business cards exchanged, it is YOUR job to turn YOUR success into new BUSINESS. You need to SPEAK about your wins and successes. You need to SHOW your expertise. You need to STAND IN FRONT OF your work. You might not be able to mention your clients in specific marketing materials, or on the website, but you can showcase your capabilities: You can upload your public record filings to JD Supra. You can blog about similar cases to the ones you handle. You can speak about your expertise at conferences. Marketing: We can make it all look pretty, coordinated, sleek and professional. Business development: We can help identify the opportunities, get you in front of the right people, provide you with the background and competitive intelligence. Communications & PR: We can help put it all into words, and get it out the door and in front of the right people. As for you, the lawyer. What is your your job and your role in all of this?? It’s very simple: Your job is to turn your successes into new business.

I love when someone asks, “What does the Marketing Department in a law firm do?”

We do everything under the five (or are we up to six or seven yet) P’s of Marketing umbrella.

In short, we’re the “Make it Work” department.

My department maintains a task list that we update every couple weeks. It’s amazing how many items are on that list, and how many items get done in the course of a two week period, and all the things we do that never make the list. It’s overwhelming, really, and sometimes I just want to wave that list around and shout, “See??? This is why …,” and you can fill in the blank with just about anything.

During one day recently we were: Continue Reading Marketing: The “Make it Work” Department

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kinda gal. I live a day at a time and prefer to make a daily resolution. However, I have a couple resolutions I’ll share over the next few days.

My first one is “Honor Your Commitments.”

When you commit to doing something, or showing up somewhere, it’s not just a calendar item in your Outlook, or an entry in your lists that you can press “snooze” or ignore.

You have committed to another person to meet somewhere, return a call, submit a document, etc.

In many cases, the other person, or persons, cannot move forward until your piece of the pie is completed.

It’s a relay race of sorts.

By not honoring your commitment, you are, at the very least, inconveniencing another person. At the most, you are putting other people, or projects, at risk.

Think about all those HORRIBLE presentations you sit through at a conference. I assure you, someone on the “team” did not honor their commitments. They didn’t turn their handouts in on time. They did not prepare in advance, and threw the slides together at the last moment. They missed the conference calls where the panel would run through the materials.

I can give example after example of how lawyers fail on this one, especially when it comes to committing to their marketing departments.

  • There’s a reason why marketing departments hire outside consultants and coaches for attorneys. For some reason, attorneys are more likely to honor their commitment to an outside consultant than to inside colleague at the firm. We marketing directors and administrators jokingly refer to this as paying someone $5,000 to do what we can do (or say what we can say) for free.
  • What about that RFP that is sitting on your desk, or in your in-box, that you forget to hand over to the marketing director until just days before its due?
  • What about the emails asking for key information to complete a project that just seem to go into that black hole of nothingness? Sometimes you really are the only person who can answer that question.

This behavior is not exclusive to lawyers. My eleven-year old — going on 22 — did it to me today.

She really wanted to come with me to the office. I woke her up at 7:00, told her we were leaving at 8:30, and instructed her to get up and get ready.

At 8:15 she still wasn’t ready. In fact, she hadn’t even started getting dressed. Her room was in such a disarray that she couldn’t find anything to wear. Lots of excuses. But, really, the TV and Nintendo just distracted her. She thought she had more time.

A normal mom would just yell or walk out the door. I, however, chose to explain to her (again) that by not getting ready she was inconveniencing ME. In fact, she wasn’t just inconvenicing me, but a whole group of people down the line:

  • Her sister was ready, so she was forcing her to sit around and wait.
  • There was no time now for breakfast at home, so we’d have to eat downtown, which is costing me money.
  • I will now be late to work. Sure, I’m exempt, but she doesn’t know what that means yet, and it would ruin the lesson.
  • The project I was hoping to have completed by 9:30 wasn’t ready until 10:00, pushing my service manager’s projects back, which pushes the other projects back, and so on.

I not only made her feel guilty, I even made her cry a little.

Some might say I was harsh, but I hope she remembers that conversation the next time I say “Be ready by 8:30,” or her professor says “Final term papers are due at 12:00 p.m., sharp,” or her boss says, “I need that presentation by 3:00 p.m.”

Yes, there are always emergencies, but skiing in Vermont when an RFP-follow up is due on January 4 is not an emergency (True story, different firm).

Sure, you can pretend to not get my faxes (Really?? No WiFi at the lodge). And wasn’t it convenient that you happened to forget your Blackberry at home that week.

But what it came down to is that there was a job to get done. I was committed to it, but the partner of record was not.

Never mind that the firm was incredibly vested in us winning that new line of business. I just wanted to scream “We pulled a team together between Christmas and New Year’s to make YOU look good, and you keep dodging my phone calls!! Why??”

If the work turned out to be sub-par, and you didn’t win the beauty contest, accept responsibility for your actions. Don’t turn around and blame the marketing department. But, hey, thanks for throwing us under the bus nonetheless.

What it comes down to is that every time you commit to someone you form a team. If you cannot honor your commitment, then get it covered, or redefine the time commitments to which everyone can agree, and adhere to them.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s about your reputation. It’s about the work product. It’s about the relationships.

What it comes down to is that no matter how bright and gifted my kid is, if she can’t get herself dressed and out the door on time by the time she graduates high school, she’s going to have problems in college, which will boil over into her career.

In a society where bad reputations can be spread like a viral YouTube video, this is something I do find to be of concern.

But don’t blame me. I tried.

Photo via

I’m speaking on a webinar next month with Ed Poll and Kevin O’Keefe. I’ll have more details on that once everything is finalized. The topic of social networking and advertising came up, and it got me thinking. Social media isn’t advertising, per se, but it is migrating into an umbrella term for everything we do on the social web. Sort of like how “legal marketing” is an umbrella term for everything we do, including MarComm, business development, PR, the dreaded holiday cards (by the way, shout out to Pillsbury for being one of the only firms to successfully implement an e-card). Social media is built around individuals. It is about connecting, publicizing, networking, advertising, branding, business development, education. It is done on different platforms, and those platforms can be used for a multitude of purposes. For instance, I can connect on Twitter. I can also publicize my blog, build my brand, advertise an upcoming event, broadcast news, ask for assistance, etc. Sometimes I’m connecting personally. Sometimes professionally. Sometimes I want to have a say in the conversation. And sometimes I just need to vent to the universe. Social media and social networking are not static, nor do they maintain a singleness of purpose. It has been bandied about that in the Internet-age there is no longer privacy. We share openly (sometimes too openly) on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Everything we do has the potential to be broadcasted to the world. Literally. No matter what your privacy settings are set at, you are part of this new world, whether you like it or not (Facebook photo-tagging, for instance). If you think about this way, everything we do is an advertisement of ourselves. We no longer have the luxury of separate “personal,” “professional” and “social” personas. They have all morphed into one person. At the school holiday program today, I chatted legal marketing with one parent; updated another on the adopt-a-family program I’m organizing with Girl Scouts;  one mother asked to be introduced to the sports dude because she recognized him from my Facebook page; and the sports dude recognized a fraternity brother from college who was sitting in front of us. What I do online, at my kids’ school, in the Girl Scout meetings, at work, in my personal life are all now connected. By listening to those in my social network, I am seeing that my “brand” is that of an engaged, active mom and career woman who still makes time to have fun (seeing both Billy Idol and X this week!). There’s no more compartmentalizing me. I am a living, breathing, walking advertisement of what I do and who I am. So, while social media and social networking are not “advertising” per se, I’m starting to think of it as product placement. I am a product placement in my own life. What this means, to me, is that I have to protect my brand in all areas of my life. I cannot act up in one world, and not see the reverberations in another. People will make judgments of me based on what I post on my blog, on Twitter or my personal Facebook Wall (or, your Wall since Facebook is now posting those on MY Wall too #fail). Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’m certain that only time will tell. People will get burned and learn the hard way. Others will master and succeed. Others will be clueless and just “wonder why”? Personally, I’m embracing this. I am finding benefits. I am also aware of the pitfalls. But, most of all, what I have found is that social media/networking is creating a more natural and authentic me. I am transparent, and I have very little to hide, and even fewer places to hide them.

Many, many years ago I was on the stairmaster at the gym. The two people next to me were flirting, which included the young woman gossiping about a public official. I was a lobbyist at the time, and I happened to personally know said public official. I slid off my machine and casually told the young woman: “You should be careful who you’re gossiping about. You have no idea who you’re standing next to.” And I left. I don’t know if I made an impression on her, but she made an impression on me. When I’m in an elevator, at a restaurant, or out on the street, I have no idea who I am standing next to. If I take that moment to speak out of turn, be rude, gossip … well, I’ll never know the damage I just caused to myself. The same lesson applies to our electronic footprints, particularly on Facebook. I have a very wide range of “friends” on Facebook. We are all over the map geographically, ideologically, religiously and politically. Some people are close, personal friends and family. Other are colleagues, former classmates, and members of my personal community. I am open to any type of political discussion taking place on my Wall as long as it remains respectful to all involved. I do not allow conversations to digress into name-calling. Period. And, yes, I’ve been known to delete conversations that get out of hand. With only a week before the interim-elections, I would caution us all:  One or some of your Friends will post something you disagree with, and that’s A-OK. The question is: “How will you respond?” I think debate is good. I think differences of opinion and ideology make for a more engaged and educated electorate. I think it REALLY important that people realize that not everyone agrees with everything they believe in. However, we are not wholly anonymous to one another. And, just because we are posting something from the privacy of our homes, does not make it private. Take heed: ANYTHING you post can be seen by your client, potential client, referral source or an influencer within your network. I might not be friends with my boss on Facebook, but how can I be 100% certain we’re not friends of friends?? For that matter, what is the degree of separation between you, the reader, and me? How can any of us be certain that the “wrong” person won’t read something we wrote and make a critical judgment about us from that?? Once again, ask yourself: “How do I want to be perceived by the silent majority of viewers of any Facebook post?”  “Well, we obviously don’t agree on the gubernatorial candidates, but I enjoyed the debate” or “What an A******!” For some reason, there’s never an in between. I don’t think anyone should feel that they cannot have a voice, or fear reprisal for having a political ideology that is not shared by another. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this enlightened position. So consider this your warning. Think before you post. Here some tips to remember before you hit that “share” button or leave a comment:

  • Be respectful.
  • If commenting on someone else’s Wall, take their personal politics into account (just as you would if you were in their home).
  • Avoid insults, name-calling and petty debates, especially with people you don’t personally know.
  • Pause before commenting and ask yourself: “Do I REALLY need to say this?”

And remember,

  • Sarcasm and humor do not necessarily translate.
Game Day - Photo via

The whole Ines Sainz fiasco, incident, scandal, brouhaha has been taking up too much space in my head this week. It has moved off the sports page and is being debated by the mainstream press and blogs.

The Sports Dude and I “debated” the issue. We talked earlier this week about writing a “He Said/She Said” piece, but it’s more of a “He Said/She Agreed” piece … from different vantage points. His is from the field and the locker room, mine is from the administrative offices.

I get that Ines Sainz is beautiful and hot. How could anyone not. But, she’s completely out of line, and the reaction of the NFL, to force “sensitivity training” on the players is completely wrong.

“I believe this is the most constructive approach,” [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell said. “There is no debate about the longstanding equal access rule of our media policy. The issue for us, like all organizations, is proper conduct in the workplace, whether it is dealing with the media, co-workers, fans or others. It is our responsibility to provide a professional setting for members of the news media and other business associates that work with our teams and the league. We appreciate Woody Johnson stepping up promptly to properly manage the situation at his team and agreeing to underwrite this new initiative for all clubs.”

I’m going to argue that it is also the responsibility of the WORKERS to bring their professional selves to the workplace, whether your workplace is the football field on Sunday afternoons, or the 47th Floor of the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles.
Continue Reading Why the Ines Sainz “incident” matters to ALL professional women

I grew up at the foot of Westwood Boulevard, and for those living under a rock, The Wizard of Westwood passed away this week (click here for the UCLA tribute to Coach Wooden or a collection of posts from Bruin Nation). What has amazed me in wake of Coach Wooden’s death are the personal stories I am hearing and viewing, whether on the news, sports blogs, Facebook walls … honorable men and cynical commentators have been brought to tears discussing their love for this man. His reach has far surpassed the boys he coached at Dayton High School in Indiana, Indiana State University, and, of course, UCLA. Coach Wooden had retired by the time I started catching the #12 bus up into Westwood to catch a movie or play games at the UCLA Mardi Gras. Just a few years later, my girlfriends and I would cruise Westwood in my Triumph Spitfire, and on a Saturday night you could find me hanging out at Postermat where my high school sweetheart worked. Is it just me, or did UCLA and Westwood begin to lose it’s glow and charm when Coach Wooden retired? John Wooden didn’t just inspire his players over his tenure. His inspiration changed these boys, who became men, who touched the lives of those about them as well. His words, his quips, his lessons, his character should resonate with all of us who chose to live a life well lived, whether personally or professionally.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best which you are capable. – John Wooden

His Pyramid of Success is something we should all print and try to live by. Here are a few that “spoke” to me this morning:

Competitive Greatness: “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required every day.” Initiative: “Make a decision! Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.” Loyalty: “Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead.” Cooperation: “Have the utmost concern for what’s right rather than who’s right.”

And his 12 Lessons in Leadership:

  1. Good values attract good people.
  2. Love is the most powerful four-letter word.
  3. Call yourself a teacher.
  4. Emotion is your enemy.
  5. It takes 10 hands to make a basket.
  6. Little things make big things happen.
  7. Make each day your masterpiece.
  8. The carrot is mightier than the stick.
  9. Make greatness attainable by all.
  10. Seek significant change.
  11. Don’t look at the scoreboard.
  12. Adversity is your asset.

I never met Coach Wooden. But I am inspired by the stories of those who have: From basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

It’s very difficult for me to put in prospective what it means for me to lose Coach Wooden. He has been such a constant in my life. Just thinking of him enables me to draw upon the many life lessons that he taught me when I was a student at UCLA. Even though I was not initially aware that I was being taught certain things, they became obvious as the events of my life unfolded. It is hard to describe greatness in words but the accomplishments and lasting legacy of Coach Wooden’s life are a formidable reminder of a life well lived.

From Bill Walton (written 11 years ago, but a must read in full):

It is usually sad to say goodbye to those you love when it’s time to go. Not so with John Wooden. With him, it’s always about the next time, the next event, the next game. John Wooden still has the enthusiasm, energy, industriousness, initiative and love of life that allows him to get up every day, quite early I must add, even though his legs are failing him, with the attitude of “We get to play basketball today. Let’s go.” I thank John Wooden every day for all his selfless gifts, his lessons, his time, his vision and especially his patience. This is why we call him coach.

From LMA‘s very own Ed Poll:

Being a UCLA alum, Coach obviously had a great impact on me. My son went to two of his clinics during his coaching tenure. The only part of the clinic he allowed parents to watch was his famous teaching of how to dress…. He made all the kids take off their shoes and socks, and he taught them how to put them on …. He said basketball is played on your feet … and if you get blisters on your feet, you can’t play.

And while I am not one to shill books, I’ve already pre-ordered The Wisdom of Wooden: A Century of Family, Faith, and Friends. I have a feeling that Coach Wooden has a lot to teach this legal marketer.

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.”