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Blog Name: heathertownsend's blog

Should I add in extra characters to my name fields on LinkedIn?
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24 February 2013
I’ve noticed an increase in a practice on LinkedIn of adding in extra information to your LinkedIn name. In this article, I will explore the pros and cons of doing this practice and better ways to achieve the visibility and credibility you require on LinkedIn.

So, what do I mean by this practice? It could be:

* adding in your phone number or contact details to your name, e.g. Heather Townsend 01234 48 0123

* adding in stars around your name, e.g. *Heather Townsend*

* adding in keywords to your name field, e.g. Heather Townsend | Writer and Executive Coach

* adding in your qualifications, e.g. Heather Townsend MCIPD

Why do folks choose to do this:

Greater visibility in searches for their profile

They believe, in the case of keywords, that they will turn up in more searches. Having done a selective trial of this, I saw no evidence for this. In fact, after I had removed the offending ‘executive coach’ from my name, I saw an increase of 20% of the number of searches I turned up in, and a 100% increase in the amount of views of my profile.

If you want people to find you when searching for you, personally, then you must not add in extra characters to your first or second name field. Otherwise, your profile – the one they are trying to find – will end up at the bottom of the search results.

Makes you more memorable when you participate in discussions

It may make you more memorable, but probably for the wrong reasons. It seems gimmicky, potentially desperate, spammy and is that the type of 1st impression you want to give? Actually, you want to be memorable for all the right reasons, for example:

* adding in valuable and insightful comment to discussions

* including in some personality to your profile, rather than a bland corporate type of profile

* starting interesting discussions

Makes it easier for prospects and people to contact you

There is no counter argument to this. If you do add your contact details into your name it does make it very easy for people on LinkedIn to contact you. After all, they don’t need to go to all the hassle of becoming a 1st degree connection. However, and this is a big however, the LinkedIn terms of service expressly forbids the practice of adding in anything in the ‘First and surname’ fields that is not your name.

What happens if I break the LinkedIn terms of service?

Sometimes nothing happens. However, without warning LinkedIn may suspend your account, without warning for breaking it's terms of service. You will then be left without a LinkedIn account for generally a week or so. Therefore, if you do decide to add in extra stuff to your name fields on LinkedIn, be aware that your LinkedIn account could be suspended as a result...

In summary,

There is no magic solution, short cut or easy ways to win business on LinkedIn. Focus on letting your content do the talking in the right places – that’s the best way for success on LinkedIn

About me: I am the author of 'The FT Guide To Business Networking' and the co-author of 'How to make partner and still have a life'. .... read more >
5 easy ways to make yourself instantly more memorable
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17 February 2013
I often run workshops for lawyers on 'working the room' and I am always being asked how to make myself more memorable at networking events. In this post, I share 5 ways of helping you be more memorable when working the room.

Help people remember your name at business networking events

When you introduce yourself, say your first name, pause slightly, and then say your first and second name. For example:

"My name is Heather.... Heather Townsend"

The fact that the other person gets to hear your name twice, significantly increases the chances of them remembering your name. (Yes, I know that this is blindingly obvious, so why do most people not do this at networking events?)

If your name is slightly unusual, or from a foreign culture or background, a way to help people remember your name, is to give them an easy way to say it.:

"My name is Heather.... Heather Townsend... it rhymes with .... or sounds like .... or use my nick name ..."

Introduce yourself by the value you bring and the clients you work for

Introducing yourself by your job title is the best way of stopping a conversation before it has really started.

Therefore, don't say:

"I'm in family law", say "I help divorcing couples find fair and amicable ways of going their separate ways"

"I'm in business restructuring" say "I help creditors get as much as possible of what they are owed"

Add in relationship hooks

The trick to making yourself memorable is to show more of your personality than just your name and rank, and an exchange of pleasantries and small talk. When you are exchanging pleasantries, then aim to drop in some relationship hooks for the other person to catch. For example, when asked:

'How was your journey here?', how about answering: "An easy journey and I'm hoping that the M25 behaves itself on the way home"

'How has your day been?', how about answering: "Lovely day and got some juicy new assignments given to me today" or "great day, but now looking forward to an evening out with my wife"

Have some prepared 'credibility stories'

Credibility stories are where you have several war stories prepared which illustrate the length and breadth of what you do, and who you do it for, and the results you help your clients achieve. Stories are naturally more memorable than a bland list of what you do and who you do it for.

Send them an email after the event to say how much you enjoyed speaking to them

It amazes me how many people fail to follow up after a networking event. Seriously. Just by sending them a short email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them, you will instantly become more memorable.

Before you decide to tell me, in the normal RoF way, that this stuff is blinding obvious, and I'm peddling common sense as per normal, just stop a minute. How many of us actually do this when we are out working a room? If it was SO obvious, then why don't more lawyers (and other professionals) use these 5 techniques when working the room?

About me:Apart from being labelled as RoF's controversial blogger, I am also well-known for my ability to cause RoF members to proof read my blogs and point out my mistakes. I am the co-author of 'How to make partner and still have a life' and author of the current best-selling book on networking, 'The FT Guide To Business Networking'. You can also find more of my articles at .... read more >
How can I get my partners to adopt new methods of marketing?
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10 February 2013
Let's suppose you are a keen senior associate wanting to build your own client portfolio, in order to make it to partner. You still want to be seen as one of the club, but can see that there are newer and more effective ways of marketing the practice. How can you make your partners sit up and take notice, without alienating them?

Partnerships tend not to respond well to revolution. Therefore, don't try a career limiting move and convince your partners that they need to change everything over night.

Your numbers and results, initially, need to do the talking for you. What I mean by this is gain permission to set up a trial or pilot for what you want to do. You may need to seek forgiveness and start something up without permission just to get it going. One of my favourite managing partners from a boutique law firm told me that the rest of her partners really sat up and took notice of what she was doing on social media after she brought in a £100k+ client. This is what I mean by letting your results do the talking for you. Another of my friends who is a future managing partner of her firm started her own blog and Twitter account without the rest of her partner's knowing. She had some explaining to do when they found out - but by then she also had concrete evidence to show the value of what she was doing. Her managing partner is now using Twitter as a result of her actions.

Many of the more traditional legal practices are dragging their feet when it comes to really committing to marketing by sector. This doesn't stop you externally and internally growing a reputation for a niche specialism. Yes, your client portfolio may only contain a small proportion of clients who fit your 'niche', but over time your reputation will develop and this proportion will grow. When you start to be classed as a rainmaker for your practice, your partners will be keen to understand how you are doing this. This is NOW the time to suggest a few changes to the way the practice markets itself.

If you find that your partners still don't appreciate how you are going about doing things - even though you are bringing in new clients with your marketing methods, then are you in the right firm for you for the future? The good thing about this strategy is that you will be far more valuable to another firm if you come with a client following.

About me: Apart from being labelled as RoF's controversial blogger, I am also well-known for my ability to add in apostrophes where they are really not required. I am the co-author of 'How to make partner and still have a life' and author of the current best-selling book on networking, 'The FT Guide To Business Networking'. You can also find more of my articles at .... read more >
How to network without going out in the evening
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03 February 2013
Being told that you are on Partnership track is a great moment for any lawyer. However, when you have a young family and know you need to build up a client portfolio, this isn't the best time to get this good news. After all, every lawyer will tell you that the best way to win business is via your network. But, doesn't networking equate to evening events - at the time when you really want to be at home with your young family?

My answer to this conundrum is definitely not. When I say the word networking, what image pops into your head? I'm guessing you are thinking about an event which you have had to go OUT to, which will contain a room full of strangers. It doesn't need to be this way. I will now explain why...

Networking is the process you use to find, build and maintain a mutually beneficial network. There are many different networking tools out there which remove the necessity for evening networking. For example:

1. Make use of events and groups which meet over breakfast, coffee or lunch.

4 years ago when I started on the networking scene, there was the 'hard core' breakfast networkers, the 'mix & mingle' in the evening events and the lunch time women only networking scene. Fast forward to now and there are all sorts of networking groups and events meeting all through the day. Do your research and see whether there is a group or regular networking event which works for your availability.

2. Use online networking to 'find' people for your network

Most social networking sites and communities are searchable. This means that from the luxury of your desk, and at a time convenient to you, you can converse with the people you want to meet when networking. The best way to harness sites such as LinkedIn is to set up daily and weekly routines to both interact with the right kind of people, but also spending time to find out where they hang out.

3. Be pro-active in deepening your relationships

Chatting with your network on-line is one thing, but if you never move away from small talk, then it is unlikely that you will get much benefit from the chatting. Therefore, work out who you want to ask to have a phone call with and spend time chatting with them, so it feels very natural to progress to a phone call.

4. Don't neglect the internal network

Remember that partners and senior professionals in your firm are most likely going to be the first referrals for you. Make sure you include your internal firm network in your networking strategy. .... read more >
4 reasons why firms need a new partner
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27 January 2013
You may have a highly profitably client portfolio and be highly regarded by everyone in your firm, but if your partnership doesn't have the space or inclination to admit a new partner, partnership for you at your firm isn't going to happen. In this article, I share with you the clues which you need to be looking for to understand what the partners will require from the future firm’s partners.

1. Partners getting near to retirement age

In most partnership agreements there is a clause for what age partners need to retire by. It’s not always set in stone, but not unusual for partnerships to force out their older members. (Most forward thinking practices realise that they need new blood into the partnership ever so often, and making partners retire at a certain age is one way of doing this.) Very often the retiring partner has a client portfolio which will need someone to take it over. That person could be you. Do you have a good connection with that partner? Do you have the right skills to take over his portfolio.

2. Technical areas or sectors becoming very important to the firm

Look at your firm’s business plans – where do they see the growth coming for the firm? Growth in a practice area is always an opportunity for aspiring partners to grow a portfolio and stake a claim at the partnership table. As well as looking at the firm’s business plans, do your homework and spend time talking with partners in the firm. Where do they see the growth coming from in their firm? What are the technical areas which are being more important to the firm? Could you acquire these technical skills

3. Areas of the practice which are ‘light’ on partners

Sometimes a part of the firm becomes very successful – and there is too much work for the existing partners to handle. Consequently, this may be an opportunity for you to make partner in that area (with the right technical skills). The partners in the department will need to be able to have an extra pair of hands to handle the client relationships – which is an opportunity for you. Sometimes a non-partner becomes very successful at winning work and builds up a partner-sized client portfolio. As the partnership can't afford to lose someone of this calibre, they will often make this person up to partner.

4. Departments where associates have exited the firm and left a gap

There is always a pecking order and hierarchy within a firm. However, this can sometimes get disrupted by prospective partners leaving the firm before they get there. Not only does this create opportunities for you to get your hands on more responsibility earlier, but there are less people ahead of you to make partner before you.

In summary, there are no hard and fast rules where the next partner will come from in the firm. Do your homework and look around you – there maybe an opportunity begging for you to take an advantage of. Make sure your personal business case for partnership .... read more >
Five typical mistakes lawyers make when going for partnership
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20 January 2013
In this week's blog post we are still on the theme of admission to partnership; the last, tough hurdle to making it to the partnership table. There are many reasons why your application for partnership is not accepted. Here are the five most common mistakes lawyers make when they apply for admission to the partnership.

1. Not building up a power base in the partnership

When you read this, you will think - of course, this is common sense. However, it's amazing how many senior, clever lawyers with the pressures of tough billing targets to meet, neglect to build their power base. Your partners will, behind closed doors, discuss whether or not you are a suitable person to join the partnership. Which means you need advocates for you and your partnership ambitions within your firm's partners. The more vocal supporters of your cause, the greater the likelihood that you will get the right result from the vote. Unsurprisingly the stronger your power base within the partners of your firm, the less it matters as to what you have written in your personal business case for partnership.

2. Writing their personal business case in isolation

Your personal business case for partnership, needs to be written in consultation with not just the partners in your department but partners across the firm. Depending on how your partnership admissions process works, you may find that all or a fixed amount of partners needs to give you the thumbs up. Consequently, the more partners who feel as if they have had a say in your business case and have been involved in the writing of it, the stronger the chance that you get the green light. Particularly if those partners are the movers, shapers and groovers!

3. Setting a fixed time frame for when they will make partner

No one can with any degree of certainty predict what will happen in the marketplace. For example, in times of economic hardship firms tend to reduce their partnership numbers rather than admit new, potentially untried partners. It's a sad fact that in the last few years many talented lawyers have missed out on partnership because their firms have not admitted anyone new to the partnership table. Additionally, there may be better and stronger candidates for partnership ahead of you. Which are two reasons why equity partners generally get very annoyed when 'young whippersnappers' decide on when they are going to make partner. By all means set a general timeframe, just make sure it's not a 'fixed, must be this year', type of timeframe. Your sanity may require you to have a fixed date for when you will be a partner, but that's just not the way partnership work.

4. Becoming over-fixated on their technical ability

When you become a partner you move from being employed to self-employed (hello P45) and become an owner of the firm. As a result, it is no longer about your technical ability, it's about your ability to grow the firm, build & lead a team, win clients and bring something extra to the partnership.

5. Not spending enough time on putting together their personal business case for partnership

Your personal business case for partnership is not something you can dash off in an evening or weekend. Ideally you want to be working on this at least 18-24 months before you want to be admitted to the partnership. To help you form your business case, you want to complete a series of conversations with partners inside and outside of your department, to canvas their opinions on your personal business plan. .... read more >
8 ways to create powerful friends in high places
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13 January 2013
In last week's blog I talked about what you need to do before you start to write your personal business case for partnership. In this week's blog, I am still on the same theme - your business case for partnership. This week, I am exploring how to build that all important fan base amongst your equity partners. After all, there is a strong possibility that your future is in their hands when they vote for who will be made up to partner.

1. Build up your internal and external market value

This may sound like common sense (and yes, of course it is when you read this) but your financials need to be strong, and clients need to be saying good things about you. i.e. you need to be in demand both by partners in the firm and clients external to the firm.

2. Take part in cross-firm initiatives and projects

There are always opportunities to get involved in cross firm projects outside of your client work. Do choose carefully, and aim to be present on committees, steering groups, projects or even assignments where you will get to increase your internal network and contact with key influential partners. All of these activities are non-chargeable, so choose carefully. Which project or activity will get you the most positive amount of profile with the partners you want to influence?

3. Talk to partners outside of your department

Create the time to go and get to know partners outside of your department. Do take this opportunity to ask them about what the practice needs in its new partners. Get their views on your personal business case. There is no stronger advocate than a partner who feels that they have had a say in your personal business case...

4. Avoid having a fixed date in time when you have to be a partner

One of the faux-pas that many potential partners make is having a fixed idea of when they need to be a partner. Equity partners get incredibly cheesed off hearing that 'so-and-so' has to be a partner by next year. By all means have an 'ideal timescale' in your head, or a provisional loose timescale that you are publicly working towards. Just don't go around telling partners that you will be a partner by this point in time...

5. Go to firm socials

These normally give you great access to many of the firm's partners who you would not normally bump into. Take the opportunity to talk to partners you don't know at these events and also organise a 1:2:1 later.

6. Take an strong interest in them and their part of the practice

Almost treat your partners as if they are your best client - after all, they are probably the biggest stakeholder in your career right now.

7. Choose an influential mentor

I clearly remember working with the head of corporate at my old firm. I was amazed how much influence and power this partner yielded. These are the people who can easily facilitate your path to partnership and 'sell' you to the other partners. (Who are these partners in your firm?) Sometimes just the association between the two of you is enough to get the partners to vote for you.

8. Find referrals for them

There is nothing quite like bringing in high quality referrals for other partners to generate a great fan base for you. Partners love work winners and in particular, work winners who bring in stuff for them personally. .... read more >
The 1st step in starting to write your personal business case for partnership
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06 January 2013
The process of actually getting admitted to a firm's partnership is often not written down or commonly made available to associates. Consequently in today's post we are going to focus on what you need to do BEFORE you actually start writing your business case for partnership.

It doesn't matter what firm you are at, the actual writing of your personal business case for partnership is the last part of the process. Your personal business case for partnership is not something you can write in a weekend. Unsurprisingly, there is much work to be done before you formally commit your thoughts and ideas to paper. Ideally you want to be starting to build your business case at least 18-24 months. (Don't worry if you haven't given yourself this amount of breathing space, you can still make up the time.)

Your firm is likely to have its own process for admitting partners to the partnership. Ask your HR director, HR business partner or partner to find out what the process is. You may be lucky and find that your partnership either has a very informal process without the need for a business case, or a very clear process which is well documented, with a visible timeframe.

"The starting point is to understand the process and what the business case looks like and how the business case fits into the process."
Darryn Hedges, Global Finance Director Marks and Clerk LLP

The next stage is to take a step back and do your homework on the business. If you were an external consultant advising the partners in your firm, it is likely that you would be recommending that they:

* Strengthen the weaknesses in the partnership - be that technical, leadership, financial or commercial
* Replace partners who are likely to retire in the near future
* Help the partnership achieve its long term business goals and strategic objectives

To help you complete this work, take some time to speak to partners across your firm - in particular the movers and shakers within the partnership. This actually has a three-fold benefit to you. Firstly, you get to understand from the horse's mouth what the partnership will be looking for in its new partners. Secondly, you alert them to your career intentions. Finally, you can elicit their views as to where you would best fit into the partnership and the skills (technical or otherwise) you will need to develop to be in with a good chance of making the step up.

In summary...

You have 2 things to do before starting to write your personal business case for partnership:

1. Find out the process that your firm uses to admit new partners to the partnership
2. Do your homework and find out what the firm needs from its new partners
.... read more >
4 ways to always have something 'meaningful' to say on social media
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16 December 2012
One of the biggest barriers I hear lawyers tell me about using social media for business is not having anything meaningful to say. Whether or not you decide to use social media to help grow your own client portfolio is up to you. In this post, I will be giving you 4 ideas on how to always have something (meaningful) to say on social media.

1. Start by identifying what you will or will not say on social media

Your department may decide to embrace using social media as a team - in which case, they may have a discussion about what individuals in the team may or may not say on social media. Most of this conversation is normally common sense. If you don't have the 'luxury' of guidelines being handed down from above, take some time to decide what you will say or not say. I have often had conversations with very private individuals who are horrified about having to say stuff about themselves online. The way around this is to clearly differentiate what you are happy to put in the public domain, and what you are not. (Your firm may have a view on this too, check your social media policy) For example, will you mention any of your hobbies? Or what is going on in the office? When you know what you will say on social media it can make it much easier to unblock the writer’s block.

2. Take the pressure off yourself to be perfect, witty or insightful

I strongly believe that lawyers, similar to many professionals, feel that as social media is such a public environment that they have to have their game face on at all times. There is a pressure to be seen to be the embodiment of a perfect lawyer, i.e. insightful, sharp and sometimes a little witty. Actually, the only person you have to be on social media is yourself. You need to show up as the person that your potential clients, clients and intermediaries want to work with. When you give yourself permission to be yourself, it suddenly becomes much easier to say something.

3.Have a store of useful websites, interesting people on Twitter and tweet streams

There are days when even the most talkative people on Twitter feel as if they don’t have anything to say. Regardless of whether you have writer’s block or not, it’s always useful to have a source of inspiration for social media. This could be:

1. A content plan, which guides you what to write, tweet and link to
2. An RSS reader filled with feeds from blogs and news sites that inspire you to write or comment or tweet links
3. A list on twitter with people who make it easy to chat to them, or comment on their content
4. A bookmarked list of blogs or website with good content for you to share

4. Use buffer app

I will often scan my key twitter lists a couple of times a day and see interesting content being shared. Sometimes I will retweet the good stuff there and then. Other times I will ‘favourite’ it. Then once a week, I will go through my favourites and put the tweets into a ‘buffer‘. This great piece of software then shares my interesting content across the week at times when my twitter followers are normally around. This takes the pressure of me always ‘having to be there’, and always having to have something interesting to say.

This is my last post before taking a break over the festive period. I'd like to wish all my readers a happy and relaxing break. .... read more >
8 ways to make your CV stand out from the crowd
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09 December 2012
As I think about what to write in my weekly blog for roll on friday, I notice that yet another law firm is merging (well done to Bond Pearce and Dickinson Dees), and yet another law firm, Clifford Chance this time, is cutting trainee numbers. Although you may not have been made redundant, or your firm isn't merging (give it time) and decided to move firm on your terms, it is still worth you reading this post – after all, the first firm we join is rarely the right firm for most of us to stay for the rest of our career.

The purpose of your CV is to get you to interview. Nothing more, nothing less. Here are my top 8 ways for you to get your CV to stand out from the crowd.

1. Find out who the hiring manager is

The best way to not get your CV read is to send it to the wrong person. Before you send your CV ring up the agent or firm and find out who the hiring manager is, and ideally let them know your CV is on the way to them. Before you even send the CV, can you start a relationship or dialogue with the hiring manager via LinkedIn or Twitter?

2. Write a covering letter matching your skills & achievements to requirements of the role

The purpose of a covering letter is to get your CV read… The best way to do this is set up a table and in the first column list one-by-one the key skills, experiences required by the role – then in the next column show how you meet these criteria.

A job advert will only tell you so much about a role. Ring up the hiring manager – or agent, and find out more about the role. E.g. what are the key skills and experiences wanted by the hiring firm? Only when you have a role description for the role, can you truly match your capabilities to the demands of the role.

4. Be succinct and to the point

Recruiters do not have time to read a long CV. Anything over 2 pages is too long, and will provide too much unnecessary information that will not get read. Just stick to your career highlights and achievements. Unless you are a newly qualified or looking for your first training contract then ditch the section on hobbies and interests. This is what I call CV fluff and takes away space for more valuable content such as how your skills and achievements match the demands of the role.

5. Tailor CV to role applying for

Find out what the firm’s top 5 ‘hiring’ criteria for the role are. Make sure your CV demonstrates succinctly that you have the skills and capability to meet these hiring criteria. If the firm doesn't overtly tell you this, then look at their website. What are the firm's publicly stated values? What do they say that they look for from their new recruits? These may seem like marketing and website padding to you, however, they often give you valuable clues as to what buzz words to include on your CV.

6. Highlight your quantified and relevant achievements

Firm’s want to hire successful people. So make sure you showcase your achievements on your CV. You will be amazed by how many people don't do this, and just focus on the responsibilities for their previous and current role.

7. Re-post your CV weekly

Many recruiters only look at CVs which have been posted on an internet board in the last 14-21 days. Each week re-post your CV on the internet boards… simple!

8. What messages does your CV say about you?

Ask a trusted friend, family member, coach or mentor to take a look at your CV, and tell you what key messages hits them when they look at your CV. If your CV just comes across as a mass of text, then you need a re-write!

One final piece of advice. If the firm you are applying to asks you to fill in an application form, don't send them your CV. It will get put straight in the bin... .... read more >

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