Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Doing Well by Doing Good: A Boston Mediator Responds

This morning I came across an interesting post in the SCMA blog. Vicki Pynchon made available an article written by Christine Von Wrangel who talks about some of the dirty laundry of our profession. Namely, that there are more mediators trained than those working for pay. Please take a moment to read the article.

I've posted a comment at the SCMA blog that's awaiting approval but I thought I'd share some thoughts here, too.

I agree with Christine that many learning institutions and training organizations could do a better job preparing students to be business people as well as skillful mediators. It's not unheard of.

Schools are changing. When I was in law school I created a business plan for a practice as part of my third year coursework. Mediators-in-training could do something similar. Why not expand the standard 40 hour training to include information on marketing and business planning?

For those who believe that the opportunities for mediators are meager, again I disagree. My experience has been just the opposite. True, it was challenging. However, I've made a comfortable living over the past 15 years. And, guess what? I don't think I'm unique or special. Others can do it, too.

ADRPracticebuilder.com was built on that idea. My membership rests on the notion that with support, marketing tools and guidance other mediators can do well and do good. As always I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


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Friday, July 27, 2007

Time Management for Busy People

I know you're busy. But are you productive?

That's the question I've been asking myself lately. I'm really consumed
with meeting my goals for this year, and just saying yes to everything
of quality that comes along.

But I've noticed I'm not truly productive. (That's the reason why
there was a big lag in posts). I'm making alot of inquiries, doing
research, writing-- so there's lots of creating and creative energy
flying around the office.

What's missing, I think, is results and completion.
Too many plates in the air have left me with a scattered focus
and too few results to show for it.
And, frankly, I don't think I'm the only business person this happens to.

So, I'm gonna take some good advice I heard and start scheduling 'quiet periods'.

A quiet period is a couple of hours per week that you devote exclusively to completing one entire project. No phone. No email. No distractions.

Using this technique I hope to take some of the stuff off my long, long
to-do list like altering my home page, writing more articles, and working on the Ombuds Academy. My thought is that if I can complete the short term goals that are part of my long range goals it will all be gravy at year's end.

Part of this idea came from reading the materials from E-Myth. Michael Gerber wisely advises us business owners to work ON our business strategically, NOT in the business doing the busy work that piles up and calls us. To read more, visit www.emyth.com

It changed my perspective, and I hope you get the same out of it.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Could 60 Million People be Wrong?

It's possible, but I don't think so. According to the Pew Institute 60 million Americans use the internet to make major life decisions. The Internet is becoming, or perhaps already is, a primary source of information and resources for Americans.

Question is: Will anyone find your mediation website and if they do will they choose you?

For whatever reason, mediators have been slow to embrace technology as a means to market better and improve the efficiency of their practices. Too bad because it makes a world of difference and it's really not that hard to have a web presence that educates and attracts consumers.

If You're Stuck

If you've been avoiding starting, finishing or updating your website because you:

a) don't know html
b) don't know what to write about
c) are just too confused

There's help out there for you. Let me point you in the right direction.

You don't need to learn html, although it's helpful to know a handful of basic formatting codes. You can hire someone to create a 5 page website for under $1000. Guru.com is a site full of web design professionals. That's what I did to launch the beta site for ADRPracticebuilder.com. You get a good products but it can be a bit confusing working with folks from around the world. (Maybe I'll host a call on using outsources this fall)

You can also find local gems like Lisa Wells of Coast2CoastBusiness.com. Lisa is a techy VA (virtual assistant) who offers a terrific Starter Web Package that creates a 5 page website that's ready to go. She does all the heavy lifting like getting the URL, providing hosting, setting up email and some graphics. All for $600. At that price point, there's really no excuse for not having an interactive website.

Lisa will be my guest on Thursday, July 26th at 1:30 when I grill her about the best and worst of websites. She'll share all her pet peeves, and I've even convinced her to talk about her strategy about putting pricing on your website. If you're just starting out this call is perfect for you because it hits the basics.

You already have plenty to write about, believe it or not. As a mediator who works on problem-solving on a regular basis you have valuable information to share--and I'm not talking about the benefits of mediation. Sit down that think about the 3 questions you are asked most often by prospective clients. Write them down. Answer them. Eh! viola, you now have a short (300-500 word) article entitled, Three Things People Need to Know about Mediating Blank.

You can also hire writers to take your ideas and thoughts and turn them into articles. Drop by CreativeMoonlighters.com and browse their panel of creative geniuses. You can buy articles in bulk (25-50) for about $5-7.

Personally, I think it's better to write your own with help. That's why I was so excited to find Linda Dessau, a professional writer from Ontario, Canada. Linda's doing a series of teleseminars for me on how to write articles this August. She's so easy to work with that she's helping me craft a Mediation Mensch book.

No worries if you're still feeling a bit tentative or confused. You'll get the hang of it and there's plenty of support available. Tammy Lenski offers some fine ideas over at Mediator Tech. And, we have a whole community over at ADRPracticebuilder.com and you're more than welcome to join us.

Two Great Examples

I'm inspired by examples so I wanted to leave you with a few websites that I consider effective and high quality.

Chi-Resolutions.com Carole Houk's healthcare dispute resolution firm

MediationtoStayMarried.com Laurie Israel's marital mediation firm

Oh, I almost forgot! Lisa and I invite you to enter our contest. Everyone who registers for Website Do's and Dont's on or before JULY 24th will be eligible to win 60 minutes of tech and content coaching for your website from Lisa and I and a mention in Mediation Mensch. Nancy Milton our last winner said traffic to her site soared after a mention.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Farmyard Approach to Getting Business Clients

When I first launched my mediation practice (back when AOL was new), I was approached online by a Fortune-ranked company to design a conflict management curriculum for their in-house university. I said no.

I reasoned that there were so many deserving individuals that I could spend my time helping and that the company would find someone else. I was wrong. Once they persuaded me to talk with them I learned that big businesses are ripe with conflict and often have little or no capacity to address them in a meaningful way. Viola! Strategic Conflict Management Associates, my first consulting company, was born.

SCMA grew quickly. And, before I knew it I was providing a variety of services- design, mediation, training, facilitation, speaking- to high powered companies like Coca Cola, Digital, Polaroid, Milipore, US Trust, just to name a few. Not only did I fulfill my mission to 'change the way America works', but I made money, too. My bottom line got thicker and I was able to do more pro bono work. All around it was a win/win.

How Attract Business Clients

That question seems daunting, doesn't it? But really, like anything else, it's as simple as repeating a series of effective action steps. It takes determination, confidence and time. However, the results: less worry, less selling, more meaning, more money, are well worth it. Let me share one or two of my top ten tips to win business clients here. You can also hear Tessa Stowe of Salesconversations.com share her top ten on Monday, July 16th.

Step 1- Crow about You

I'd say the most important step is crowing about you. Realize that as a mediator (even without a legal degree) you have value to offer a business, big or small, and drawe confidence from that.

Start reading your local business journal or the business section of your newspaper. Quickly, you'll see how many situations you could positively impact with your mediation skills (particularly if you unbundle them). Of course you can always enhance your skills and knowledge to attract a certain business niche, but the first step is believing you can help.

Step 2- Quack like a Duck

Translation: Act like you belong in a corporate/busines setting. That means you have to learn how businesses acquire new vendors (that's you) and do business. Have a business card and a website. Learn about their industry. All these things will help you be an insider who can become a trusted advisor.

Step 3- Fish where the Fish Are

Find an appropriate business niche for you then research the heck out of them. (I worked with financial institutions and manufacturing concerns) The companies that are progressive and collaborative will become clear to you, as will those companies that deal poorly with conflict. Either can be a good client pond for you.

Pick 3-5 companies in your niche and approach them. Because of your earlier research you'll be able to pinpoint specific areas in which you can help. And, don't be shy. It may take many calls and meetings before you land the big one.

10 Ways to Win Business Clients with Tessa Stowe

I barely scratched the surface here. Tessa Stowe will share her proven sales and marketing strategies during her mini-clinic on Monday, July 16th from 5- 6 p.m. Not only is Tessa savvy, but she's dedicated too. 5 p.m. our time is 7 a.m. her time in Australia.

If you've wanted to break into the business market but just didn't know how, sign up for this teleseminar.

Want a sneak preview first? get one of Tessa's articles by sending a blank email to tessastowe@aweber.com

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Monday, July 02, 2007

Mediators, Work Smarter Not Harder

Recently, I talked at length about how mediators can market using online techniques. Maverick that I am, I believe that knowledge products can be very effective in helping a larger population of people resolve conflict while fattening your bottom line. Building thriving practices is the mission of ADRPracticebuilder.com

What are Knowledge products?

Knowledge products, sometimes called information products, are tools that let you share your knowledge and expertise with others in a virtual way. If you've ever read an ebook, taken an ecourse, or attended a teleseminar, you've experienced a knowledge product.

Why You Should Consider Information Products

Geez, I could go on and on, but I'll share the three reasons why every mediator can greatly benefit from having at least one info product. For the sake of this post, let's say the product is an ebook.

  1. Your ebook reduces your time spent personally marketing
    If you don't have the time or courage to talk about your services, your ebook can do it for you. Place a link to it in your signature line or on your website and interested parties will download it and learn more about you and your services- all without a word from you.

  2. Your ebook allows potential parties 'sample' you
    It's a proven fact that people do business with people they like. That seems especially true for mediators. Having an ebook enables a prospective party to 'get to know you' by reading the information you have to share and the way you do it.

  3. Your ebook is a better networking tool
    How many times have you taken someone's card but then didn't follow up because, well, you had nothing to say except nice to meet you? Sending your ebook with a brief note would be much more effective and demonstrate that you're able to help.

How Do You Get Started?

It's easier than you think. Really. There are numerous ecourses, guides and other online resources to follow. In fact, the Breakthrough Summit will feature how to create a product funnel and where to find reliable resources to support you.

If you're a New Jersey or New York mediator, I'll be in your neck of the woods! I'm hosting the Breakthrough Summit: Multiple Streams of Mediation Income on Saturday, July 21, 2007 in Newark, NJ, very close to the PATH train and other public transport.

Learn about this interactive program and register here.
Put the word Faith in the referrer box during checkout and save $10 if you sign up before July 4th!