Get Your Ego Out of the Way and Ask for Help When You Need It

Entrepreneurs are great at starting projects alone, but sometimes when we hit a bump in the road we don’t know which way to turn. That’s when we need some help.

Unfortunately, H-E-L-P is a four-letter word, both literally and emotionally. Some of us, believing it’s a sign of failure, hesitate to ask anyone for advice or assistance. We worry that we might inconvenience a friend or overstep a professional relationship. Other times, we don’t want to appear weak or needy.


Entrepreneurship is difficult at times and most business owners choose to do it alone. However, if you don’t ask for help, you deny your friends and colleagues the opportunity to assist you, which many of them would be delighted to do. Moreover, if you try to do everything and make every decision by yourself, you’ll stress out and burn out. It’s important to use the network you’ve built when you need it.

Here are five helpful hints on how to ask for help.

1. Acknowledge your need.

The greater the need, the more hesitancy most people feel before asking for help. Eliminate any hesitations you have. Your need doesn’t make you weak. Just because you could do it alone doesn’t mean you should. It’s unhealthy (and unproductive) to tough it out.

For example, writing a book is a huge endeavor most people are afraid to tackle because they don’t know how or where to start. Every time I write a book, I seek the advice of a writing coach who holds me accountable and helps me become a better writer. This person keeps me on track and helps me to reach my goals.

2. Continually build your network.

At some point along your business journey, you’ll need the support of other professionals. You might need a recommendation for website design, or some advice on how to assemble a board of directors for your new business. Build a network that will support you before you need it. Join professional organizations, serve on boards, volunteer your time, take colleagues to lunch. The more key connections you have, the more likely they’ll take the time to help you.

3. Flatter others.

Believe it or not, even the most successful among us struggles with self-doubt. Chances are, the person you reach out to will be flattered you asked them for help. It doesn’t always have to be someone you know personally. Last week, one of my loyal newsletter subscribers emailed me for advice. Though we’ve never met, she’d read my books and trusted me to point her in the right direction. I was glad she had the courage to reach out and I was happy to help.

4. Discover new business opportunities.

The next time you ask for help, you may discover a wonderful, unintended consequence. Business needs often lead to new opportunities through collaboration.

Let’s say you’d like to host a webinar, but your audience is small and you aren’t sure if your idea is worth the cost and effort. Instead of trying to do it yourself, contact someone in your network who holds webinars frequently and who has a good reputation and a substantial following. Through collaboration, you’re more apt to build that relationship and get exposure and experience. It never hurts to reach out and see what happens. The answer is always “no” if you don’t ask.

5. Learn to take advice.

Asking for help is hard enough, but taking someone’s advice can be an even harder challenge. Some new entrepreneurs feel defensive when they receive advice from more experienced professionals, especially if it’s unsolicited. Don’t be a know-it-all. That attitude is a quick path toward failure. Listen when others give you advice, then decide later if you want to take their advice. Those who care about your success will want to save you from experiencing the (typically costly) mistakes they made early in their careers.

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Achieved Your Goal? Reach for More.


There are certain truths about successful people. The first is that they’re always learning. The second is that they’re always reaching for more. Not in a greedy way, but in a desire to reach their potential and live a fulfilled life. They understand that the attainment of a goal isn’t the end of the road. There is always more to see, do and be.

Here are a few tips to stretching yourself to go beyond what you thought was possible.

1. Identify areas that you’re in a rut or feel restless and discontent.

Reaching a goal is a great feat, but sustaining it can result in feeling settled and unchallenged.

2. Set the next goal above and beyond.

Maybe you don’t feel settled at reaching your goal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push further. Having reached your goal, identify the next level to strive for. For example, can you move up further in your career or set higher sales goals in your business?

3. Determine the tasks required to move you beyond your rut to reach the next goal.

Do you need to continue what you did before or do something else?

4. Fit your new goal and tasks into your daily schedule.

If you’ve already achieved some goals, you know that they don’t come to fruition on their own. It takes action to make them a reality.

5. Watch yourself grow and achieve more than you initially thought.

There is a saying that success in life is a journey not a destination, and it’s true. You should feel proud at achieving your goals, but you should never stop and rest on your laurels. Always be learning and reaching to do and be more.

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By William M. Aukamp, Of Counsel to Werb & Sullivan, a law firm in Wilmington, Delaware

In 1653, Isaac Walton wrote “The Compleat Angler” a book that is still read by avid fishermen desiring to learn all they can about the sport. One might ask today what makes a complete bank lawyer. The answer is often not fully understood by bank senior management. Among other things, they  sometimes fail to differentiate between legal and compliance. Both functions are critically important and they must work together as a team; however, while the lawyer should be a resource to compliance officers by helping them interpret complex or ambiguous regulations, it is not the lawyer’s responsibility to make sure they are followed by bank personnel. This is the role of compliance.  Why is it important for senior management to be aware of the differences between the two functions and the scope of their respective responsibilities? Because these are key functions and, as in the case of other key functions, they should know what they do, and have a sense of the knowledge and experience required of the individuals they hire to fill these key positions.

To become a complete bank lawyer, it is necessary to have both curiosity to learn new things, to be knowledgeable about the business of banking, and to have been presented, over time, with the opportunity to provide counsel to a wide variety of departments within a bank, as well as a bank’s board and senior management. Unfortunately, in this age of specialization, young lawyers are not afforded the opportunity to gain this broad based experience. This is why banking generalists are a dying breed. Large banking organizations can afford to hire specialists, who concentrate on specific areas of the bank’s operations. Small banks cannot. One solution for them may be to hire a semi- retired generalist on a part time basis. If this is not possible, outside counsel with experience in the various areas discussed herein, whether found within a single firm or in multiple firms, should be engaged.

It is important for all banks, large and small alike, to have a lawyer present at all board meetings, and not in the capacity of a director. This does not mean any lawyer, but one that has some expertise in banking law. Some lawyers claim to be bank lawyers because they represent banks in connection with loan transactions, but this, alone, is not enough to qualify one as a bank lawyer. The lawyer who is the primary “go to” lawyer for members of the board need not be knowledgeable about the full range of legal issues that may be encountered by a bank, but should be conversant with  certain laws that may command the board’s attention at some point, such as the following:  Bank Merger and Change in Control Acts; Bank Holding Company Act; laws and regulations governing financial subsidiaries, operations subsidiaries and other permissible investments; the Bank Bribery Act and US Department of Justice Prosecution Guidelines Under Act; dividends; management interlocks between banks and between banks and public utilities;  securities law restrictions regarding insider trading; and banking laws and regulations regarding restrictions on transactions with affiliates and insiders. There is also a provision in the federal Bank holding company Act that applies to all banks, not just those that are part of a holding company system, and prohibits a bank from making loans on preferential terms to directors of correspondent banks. In addition, it may not open a correspondent account if it has outstanding loans to a director of the correspondent bank, unless they are made on substantially the same terms, including interest rates and collateral as those prevailing at the time for comparable transactions with other persons and does not involve more than the normal risk of repayment or present other unfavorable features. The individual must also be knowledgeable about laws relating to corporate governance. In addition to their general oversight responsibilities, directors are required to review or approve of specified policies and procedures. The bank’s compliance officer should know what specific reviews or approvals are required and with what frequency, and   ensure that each director receives an adequate executive summary of the underlying law or regulation. He or she should also coordinate with the corporate secretary regarding calendaring the items.

Here are just some things with which a bank lawyer, or the bank’s lawyers, collectively, should be familiar:

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Quinn Emanuel’s New Marketing Initiative: An Interview With John Quinn


On Friday, we brought you news of litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel requiring associates and counsel to assist with at least one marketing project during the year. The requirement was tied to bonus eligibility, to which some of our sources objected.

Over the weekend, I corresponded with founding partner John B. Quinn, who explained the firm’s marketing program and defended it against criticism. Here’s the transcript of our discussion (lightly edited, mainly for capitalization).

ATL: Can you briefly describe Quinn Emanuel’s new initiative to get associates and counsel to take a more active role in marketing efforts?

JBQ: We’re asking every associate and counsel in the firm to participate in at least one marketing project during the course of the year. These projects might include contributing to a presentation to a prospective client about a potential new engagement, helping to write an article, doing some research on an industry, or a host of other things. The project must be approved by a partner.

ATL: Why did the firm decide to implement this new initiative?

john quinnJBQ: Our profession has become hyper-competitive, especially since 2008. Virtually every new case we get is the result of a beauty contest of some sort where we are up against very high-quality firms. Every week brings new claims, new theories of recovery, new developments in the law, new clients with new business models. We have to be not just on top of these things, but ahead of them.

ATL: Some might say: isn’t business development really best left to the partners?

JBQ: Associates and counsel are a huge untapped resource. They have law school classmates who, after three to four years, have moved in-house and — guess what? — are participating in decisions about whom to retain. We’d like our lawyers to be comfortable knowing how to take advantage of these opportunities — really, how to create opportunities. If we are successful, this could be transformative. From time to time we have conducted “how to” programs for associates on marketing topics. As part of this effort, we will do more of that. We also pay associates a percentage of the revenue from work they bring in, subject to certain requirements.

ATL: And some might say: shouldn’t business development and marketing be left to the people who are actually good at it, whether they’re associates or partners, instead of getting the entire firm involved?

JBQ: In this effort, there is a role for everyone. The idea that some people are marketers and some are not is simply wrong. Whether they know it or not, all lawyers are marketers, making impressions for good or ill in the business and legal community. A very few are naturally good, some get good by working at it, some are oblivious, and some are just bad. We should find a way for all to be contributors. It’s important for the firm to succeed, but it’s also important for the associate to succeed. It’s very empowering to to know how new work comes in and what succeeds and what doesn’t. It’s like the saying about giving someone fish to eat versus teaching them how to fish. We’d like to demystify the process of how work comes in the door.

ATL: You’ve made a great case for why this new initiative is good for both the firm and its individual lawyers, especially given the state of legal practice today. But let me ask you this: why is the new initiative being tied to bonus eligibility, and why is time spent on these (very worthwhile) marketing efforts not includible in the 100-hour non-billable allowance towards bonuses?

JBQ: It’s important; we want to make sure people understand that we think it’s important, and we really want them to do it. If we tie it to bonus eligibility, I hope we’ll get 100% participation. And, frankly, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for people to do this without expecting to be paid more for doing it. We also conduct deposition and trial training programs; we expect people to attend those, but we don’t pay them extra for getting that kind of professional training. Marketing is important too.

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How To Conquer Your Inbox

email symbol on row of colourful envelopes

How many times do you check your email per day? If you’re like most lawyers, the number is probably in the hundreds. Even using a conservative estimate, if you check your email 100 times per day and lose two minutes each time, that’s over three hours a day you’re losing to your inbox. Of course, we all rely on our email for communication, but are we using it effectively? How often do you check your inbox, see that there are no new emails, and go back to doing “real work” for a couple of minutes before you habitually check your inbox again?

When we get an email in our inbox, our brain releases dopamine, which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Our body also releases cortisol, a stress hormone. We also have a tendency to hold our breath, hence increasing stress — a phenomenon known as email apnea.

I attended a session on productivity while at the National Association of Legal Placement (NALP) conference with Paul Burton, called “Power Processing Your Email Using the QuietSpacing Method.” He shared these tips for increasing productivity and conquering your inbox.

#1: Turn Off Email Notification

Most of us receive hundreds of emails per day. We can’t engage in the type of deep thought and focus required to write memos, briefs, and conduct legal research if our computer is pinging every couple of minutes with an email alert. This is one simple way to reduce distractions.


#2: Add ‘No Email’ Time

Burton suggests adding short durations throughout the day where you have “no email” time. For example, no email while you’re in the elevator. (You can amuse yourself by looking at everyone else in the elevator that’s obsessively checking their email.) Other suggestions include setting a timer and not checking your inbox during this time.

If you find yourself checking email compulsively throughout the day, consider checking your inbox only once per hour. If you can’t do that, consider checking it once every 15 minutes.

#3: Slave or Commander of Inbox?

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When A Partner Leaves, Will Clients Follow?


Several folks have asked me, either by email or in comments, to write about this subject: When a partner moves laterally from one law firm to another, will clients stick with the old firm or follow the partner?

I’m afraid the answer is both obvious and indefinite: It depends.

As a client, suppose I have one partner and one associate at a big firm who have handled several cases for me over time. The partner and associate decide to move together to a new firm. Do I follow?

Of course.

In this situation, the identity of the firm is irrelevant. We probably started working with the partner years ago, and we were happy with her work. She works with only one associate, and we’re happy with the associate’s work. We know the two individuals well, and we know that they personally are doing the work for us.

This is thus a no-brainer: When the lawyers doing our work move on to greener pastures, we follow them. (I have actual experience with this situation. We’ve had a partner and an associate move on, and we followed them. I’m not speaking hypothetically here.)

Change the situation: A firm participates in a beauty contest. Both the lead partner and the team that participate in the beauty contest impress us. We work with the firm for a few months, and the lead partner disappears for a while: She’s in trial for another client, on an extended vacation, in rehab, whatever. But the firm continues to represent us swimmingly even in the partner’s absence.

The partner then reappears and promptly announces that she’s changing firms. Do we follow?

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Perkins Coie Managing Partner Juggles Past With Future


Few Am Law 100 firm leaders have had starring roles in high-impact political litigation while managing their firms. John Devaney, who became Perkins Coie’s new managing partner on Jan. 1, falls into that category. In March, Washington, D.C.-based Devaney argued a case at the Florida Supreme Court that will determine whether the state must scrap a redistricting map drawn up by Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature, a map that Devaney’s clients—Democratic voters—say amounted to partisan gerrymandering.

It’s just one of several such redistricting challenges he’s worked on since 2011 on behalf of Democratic voters in Republican-controlled states. Devaney, 57, spoke with The Am Law Daily about all the litigation and his recent appointment to the top post at the 1,002-lawyer Perkins Coie, where Democratic politics have long run in the DNA of the firm’s D.C. office. Last week, Perkins Coie, which already represents the Democrats’ Senate and House campaign committees, confirmed that it will serve as lead outside counsel to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Below is an edited transcript of the interview:

The Am Law Daily: You came to Perkins Coie in 1988 after four years as a trial lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, then spent the next 22 years doing a full range of commercial and communications litigation. Most recently, you’ve spent much of your time on Voting Rights Act redistricting challenges, mostly on behalf of by minority voters. Do you feel like you’ve come full circle?

John Devaney: I do. I was involved in some memorable Justice Department civil rights lawsuits back then against a dozen suburban towns outside Chicago and about 14 outside Detroit. Each had a requirement that you had to live there to serve in a municipal job, and we alleged that since there were almost no black residents, the requirement had an adverse affect on their employment by the municipalities. It was a novel theory at the time. We got a federal district court judge to endorse our position that the requirement was unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. That led to me negotiating well over a dozen consent decrees.

ALD: How did you get involved in the voter redistricting cases?

JD: In 2011, Marc [Elias, head of Perkins Coie’s 23-lawyer political law group and Democratic legal troubleshooter] was hired to assist the Democratic Party in disputes related to redistricting. I was in his office one day, just talking about the disputes on the horizon, and he asked me to take on a courtroom role as someone with a civil rights and a litigation background, and I very willingly signed on. The Texas redistricting fight began soon afterward. Texas had earned four more seats after the 2010 Census. The seats were almost exclusively due to an increase in the Latino population. But in the new maps drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature, three of the four new seats were located in white districts, a big red flag. Back then, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act applied, which required Texas and eight other states to get preclearance for any changes to their election laws. They went to a three-judge panel of the D.C. District to get the maps precleared.

Working in conjunction with the Voting Rights section of the Department of Justice and various public interest groups, my team took depositions of people who had drawn up the map who said that race wasn’t a factor in creating the voting districts. Then I and some other lawyers conducted a two-week trial before the panel in January 2012. Ultimately the panel found that the Texas legislature had engaged in racial discrimination in drawing the new map. But in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated key parts of Section 5, and our victory was ultimately vacated. The underlying finding of racial discrimination wasn’t refuted, however, and there are ongoing related proceedings under Section 2 and the Equal Protection Clause—but we’re not involved in those.

ALD: There have been several other court challenges since the Supreme Court decision in 2013 focusing on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause, and you’ve been involved in many of them. Can you tell me about those?

JD: At the same time we were litigating in Texas, we initiated challenges to Florida’s redistricting map in February 2012. Because I had just come off the Texas case, it made sense for me to jump in and help out. That took a very significant amount of my time from that spring till this past fall, culminating with a three-week bench trial before the Florida state court last May into June. The verdict July 10 was that that the Florida legislative map was unconstitutional in that it improperly favored the Republican Party and that the Florida legislature had engaged in a conspiracy with paid Republican operatives to draw maps favorable to their candidates. Last month, I argued at the state’s Supreme Court asking the court to throw out a redistricting map that was subsequently amended, but only in a very limited way. We’ve asked the court to throw out the entire state redistricting map. A decision on our appeal could come as soon as May.

Concurrently, we were also prosecuting a second case in Florida and cases in Virginia and North Carolina. I played a significant role early on in those. [The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered a review of a ruling upholding the redistricting in North Carolina; on March 30, the court also sent a ruling scrapping the Virginia legislature’s redistricting back for review, both in light of the court’s recent decision in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, which found that the Alabama state legislature had relied too heavily on race in its redistricting by packing black voters in a few districts.]

ALD: Didn’t all the litigation coincide with the firm’s leadership succession process?

JD: It did (laughs). In May, a week or two before trial in Florida, I had to miss a pretrial conference because I’d been asked by the firm’s managing partner selection committee to come up for an interview. I couldn’t tell the judge why I had to be absent, which was awkward, because it’s kind of a big deal to miss a pretrial conference. But anyway, I flew to Chicago for the interview and came back to Tallahassee right afterward. Then, during the trial, the firm had me undergo psychometric tests, which I did during one weekend break. After the results were in, they had a psychologist tell me about my characteristics as a leader.

ALD: What did you learn about yourself in that process?

JD: Two things that stood out: I am very goal-oriented. I’m focused and driven in that way. Second, I have a low level of skepticism, quite a bit below the mean for lawyers. That means I had a higher level of trust in people generally.

ALD: How has your involvement in the cases changed since you were chosen last July as [former Perkins Coie managing partner Bob] Giles’ successor? And what has been your chief focus during your first 100 days?

JD: Naturally, I have had to become less engaged in the voting litigation, and my colleague Kevin Hamilton, an expert in recounts [who represented Sen. Al Franken in his recount, among others] has stepped up his involvement. We also just hired Bruce Spiva, a former Jenner & Block partner and an expert in voting rights litigation.

Last fall, to prepare for the managing partner role, I visited most of our 19 offices so I would have the knowledge necessary to lead the firm when I took over Jan. 1. During those meetings, we had a dialogue about what shape future growth at the firm should take. We have grown a lot in the last five or six years—by about 350 to 400 lawyers. I wanted to get feedback on whether the partnership wanted to pull back and emphasize certain core practice areas or continue that growth. We concluded that, one, growth has been very good for the firm; two, that we should continue to grow, and three, there are certain areas we should concentrate on. We’re currently in discussion on trends and legal practices that will be supporting growth. We haven’t announced which practices we’re growing yet.

Since January, I have been focusing mostly on the outward-facing roles, meeting clients and understanding their needs, trying to get a sense of what’s on their minds. I’ve also gone to each of our practice group retreats to talk over strategic plans and get feedback from each group.

Jackson Lewis to Lei Down the Law in Hawaii


Jackson Lewis has decided to lei down the law with the opening of a new firm in Honolulu.

The firm, Jackson Lewis P.C., a Law Corporation, will operate as an affiliate of Jackson Lewis and will be manned by shareholders Andrew Pepper and Wayne Yoshigai, both members of the Hawaii State Bar Association. Pepper joined Jackson Lewis from Carlsmith Ball, which has offices in Hawaii, Los Angeles and Guam, while Yoshigai made the move from Hawaiian firm Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris.

According to New York-based Jackson Lewis, which specializes in labor and employment, its lawyers will provide consultative support to the Hawaiian affiliate, although they will be overseen by members of the state bar. (The Hawaiian counterpart will also focus on workplace law.)

Rather than opening a new office, Jackson Lewis established an affiliate as a result of a Hawaiian Supreme Court law that “required the incorporation of a subsidiary to come into Hawaii,” Pepper says. The firm’s soft opening was two months ago, with the official launch going live on Monday, he adds.

Jackson Lewis—which already has around 40 clients doing business in Hawaii, largely in the hospitality industry—had been considering branching into the market for the last three or four years, according to the firm’s chairman, Vincent Cino.

In the past, Jackson Lewis relied on other firms for local counsel in Hawaii;  now, client needs will be served directly by the affiliate, says Cino. Substantial travel time that even Jackson Lewis’ West Coast outposts had to endure will also be eliminated, he adds.

Both Pepper and Yoshigai note the benefits the Hawaiian affiliate will enjoy, citing the support and expertise of roughly 800 lawyers from Jackson Lewis, along with added resources available to existing clients.

“Hawaii has not traditionally been served by a national law firm … it is a benefit to the state of Hawaii to have this level of expertise [from Jackson Lewis] made available,” Pepper says.

In February, Jackson Lewis announced another expansion—albeit much closer to home—with its 56th office to be located in Red Bank, New Jersey. The move was facilitated by the hire of five lawyers from New Jersey firm Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla.

“Jackson Lewis has expanded a lot in recent years—it enters markets to serve clients as closely as possible,” Pepper says.

Cino says that while the affiliate is currently composed of just Pepper and Yoshigai, the firm’s other openings with one or two lawyers have expanded to more.

How to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile to Find Potential Customers

In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Myerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. In this edited excerpt, contributing author and LinkedIn expert Viveka Von Rosen offers tips on creating a LinkedIn profile, then targeting your searches, to find your target market.


Are you, like many professionals, still not convinced of the power of LinkedIn? Here are some stats that might change your mind:

  • LinkedIn is the number-one social network for driving traffic to corporate websites.
  • LinkedIn members are 50 percent more likely to engage with a company they engage with on LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn drives more traffic to B2B blogs and sites than Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ combined.
  • Ninety-three percent of marketers rate LinkedIn as effective for generating leads.
  • Sixty-five percent of companies acquired B2B leads through LinkedIn.

Your first step to attracting prospects on LinkedIn is to create a powerful profile. Start with your Professional Headline — it’s the area right underneath your name, the 120 characters that describe who you are and what you do. Most people just have their “Title” at “Company” (because that’s LinkedIn’s default), but this is a great place for a tagline and a few keywords.

Because your picture, name and Professional Headline are usually what people see in most communications on LinkedIn, whether you’re responding to a group update, sending a message, inviting someone to connect or using the introduction feature, invest the time to make it engaging.

A lot of people skip the description field of their Experience section, but I’d strongly urge you not to. You have 1,000 characters in this area to plant your keywords. As you describe what you do and what your company does, these keywords are going to naturally settle right in. And with LinkedIn’s search algorithm, the description section of your Experience is more important than ever!

In the Background section of your profile, make sure to use the most of the 2,000-character Summary field to expound on who you are and what you do. Keep the Summary section customer-facing, by being clear on how what you do benefits your prospects.

The Interests section, found at the very bottom of your profile under Additional Information, is the only section on LinkedIn into which I recommend you blatantly dump your keywords. You have 1,000 characters to add both personal interests (hiking, biking, walking, judo) as well as the list of the keywords you use for SEO. Just paste in your list, and make sure you separate each keyword or keyword phrase with a comma so the words are searchable.

If you get the right keywords in these four sections, you have a much better chance of your profile showing up when someone does a search on them. Since LinkedIn actually drives more traffic than Google+ and Bing, you need to make sure that you, not your competition, are being found by your prospects.

Now let’s talk about the best ways to search and find prospects on LinkedIn.

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The Rules of Business Texting

In January, the Academy of Management released a study revealing that people who receive texts after work are generally angry about those communications. Yet texting and other forms of electronic communications are on the rise. So, when is it appropriate to text a colleague, and how can you reduce unwanted electronic communications outside of work hours?

Around three years ago, I decided that I was done taking unwanted calls; now, I don’t listen to voicemails at all. In fact, my voicemail says to “text me.” And because I recently offended someone with this stance, I decided to do a little bit of research and teach everyone what I’d learned.

TextingTexting a colleague generally depends on how casual your relationship is, what you’re texting the person about and what this person’s seniority level is. Texting is fairly personal. Indeed, our phones have become an extension of our personalities to some degree, and texting a form of direct messaging. The problem with texting, however, is that it can lose context. Consider the following rules of etiquette.

1. Texting your boss

Texting your boss has become increasingly necessary, especially when an issue is urgent or needs to be resolved quickly. When you do text, you should be communicating simple messages such as meeting times and places. Or text when the message requires an immediate response or requests a coffee meeting. Never text bad news about a contract, an important decisions (“Quitting. Sorry!”) or a message that includes abbreviations. Everything should be kept professional. Of course, you should always respond to any inquiries the boss texts to you.

If the manager is younger (under 35) and/or running a small business, texting language may be more colloquial. If you’re not sure, refer to your corporate communications policy.

2. Texting your team

In general, you should be cautious when texting team members. These messages may depend on age, gender, personal relationship and even hours. Everything you write might be relayed to other team members and to leadership. Screenshots can be taken of everything you write and passed on, then taken out of context. When in doubt, be professional.

Take into consideration your recipients’ relationship status and emotional state, and remember that texts lose context. These messages can also be misconstrued by your significant others and cause problems at home, even if they’re an inside joke.

Try not to text team members after working hours unless you have a personal relationship with them outside of work. If you feel like you want to text them about work after 5 pm, use email.

Texting your prospect 

This is a hotly debated topic in the sales community. Texting your prospect is dependent on the type of rapport you have, whether this individual has given permission and where in the sales process you are. Never cold-call through text messaging. Many people believe that text messaging is still a personal communication that requires urgent attention, and that texting people you’re soliciting business from when you don’t know them is considered gauche.

If, however, you have a good rapport with your prospect, texting during business hours can be appropriate if it’s about finding a meeting place, notifying this person that you are running late to a meeting, following up to a question or providing something of value. Being pushy about closing a deal using a text is not recommended.

Texting networking colleagues

For the most part, networking colleagues whom you’re exchanging business information with can be fair game. Starting with email is traditional, typically. But people who are networking may be excited about helping each another with business development. So this relationship often escalates to texting fairly quickly. Once again, your texting relationship depends on gender and age. Younger members of the same sex are more likely to find it appropriate.

How to encourage less texting

Is texting making you or your colleagues angry? Want to encourage fewer texts to your phone after hours? Here are some tips to decrease texts and keep your mobile phone free of business during your personal time:

  • Stop including your mobile phone on your business cards and Linkedin profile.
  • Convey your own communication policy in your email signature. Exclude your mobile phone and add a line specifically requesting, Please send all correspondence via email. 
  • Ask those contacting you to communicate only during business hours, and if they need to send you work, to send it only through email. Entrepreneurs and freelancers may forget that others aren’t working at their odd hours.
  • For major offenders, start using the Do Not Disturb feature on your cell phone during the weekends and evenings.

What rules do you have for texting people you do business with? Do they work and how do you apply them to your life? Please post your observations in the Comments section below.

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