How to Use a Social Media Expert in Trial

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By: Kevin L. Nichols

Spoliation, defamation, stalking, and insurance fraud are just a few examples of issues that may require factual evidence necessary to persuade a jury at trial.  The methods of obtaining this evidence have dramatically improved over the years and many vendors are now becoming savvy at forensically collecting data from social media sites (SMS), such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  The number of testifying experts has increased significantly with regard to the defensibility, chain of custody, and the methodology of the collection itself, however, where are the experts regarding the actual use and behavior of those using social media and how utilizing this may impact the outcome of the trial?  Moreover, how do lawyers address the employee theft of intellectual property and/or trade secret information such as client lists and client relationship management (CRM) contacts?  Perhaps attorneys need to recognize the value of a social media expert.

Although direct evidence of impropriety is difficult to maneuver around, there may be instances where a person’s deviant behavior is not cut and dry or black or white.  For example, say an issue arises where a defendant is stalking a co-worker and he “checks-in” at the same restaurant that she is dinning at after work and makes unwanted advances towards her.  Later, the defendant disables the Four Square application to his Facebook Page and turns over the login, password, etc. to the judge pursuant to a court order.  Facebook most likely will not allow access to that “check-in” from its site, but a social media expert would advise his client to obtain the defendant’s Four Square login credentials and collect from its site as well.

There are numerous ways users of SMS make mistakes by thinking that their privacy settings completely restrict access to others from viewing their profile, yet they forget that when they comment, share, and post on other people’s profiles, their activity is visible to the public.  For example, an employee could update her Facebook status by stating that she is glad that it is Friday and a co-worker whose profile is protected, could post some defamatory comments about their company and someone from human resources sees the posts and fires the co-worker.  Even if the co-worker tried to delete the post on his profile, the original employee could still provide a copy of the post from hers.

Furthermore, the intersection between employers’ CRM tools such as Saleforce.com, Zoho.com, etc. and employees’ personal LinkedIn accounts is becoming much more congested.  The conventional use of LinkedIn is making it more and more difficult to decipher who an employee’s connections truly belong to and would they have made these connections if they were not employed by their employer.  It is important to know how sales people normally meet contacts, how they add them to their respective CRM tools, and how easily the contacts can be exported to various mediums nearly undetected.  Retaining an expert can be advantageous either for non-disclosed purposes or for testifying at trial to assist the attorney with providing the appropriate context of the pivotal issues of the case for the jury.

Overall, the legal system is being bombarded with cases involving social media on a frequent basis.  Not only are the courts dumbfounded about how to deal with social media, but many of the lawyers and judges trying and hearing these cases do not even have SMS profiles or any clue of how SMS work.  Attorneys should invest in understanding the nuts and bolts of social media so that they can articulate to a jury what the true triable issues of fact are in their cases.  Believe it or not, this may be an area where the jury could actual turn the tables on the lawyers since they live and breath social media daily.

Kevin L. Nichols is the Principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco, which specializes in Litigation, Diversity and Business Development/Social Media consulting.

For more information, please visit http://www.klnconsultinggroup.com.

How to Develop your Personal Brand Online Seminar

Please join Social Media Strategist, Kevin L. Nichols, as he takes you on a live online overview of how to create and develop your online “brand”.  You will learn how to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other online tools to market yourself and develop proper etiquette of conducting yourself online, which ultimately leads to warm leads and sales.  Please visit http://bit.ly/wv9xH0 to read more about Kevin’s online “brand” and some tips on how to build a strong networkhttp://bit.ly/xvRXAP.  Space is limited and there is an Early Bird Registration available for the first 7 seats!

Please visit http://bit.ly/GK5wej to Register!

8 Ways to Meet Your Professional Goals Using Social Media

Kevin Nichols  All Articles

Law Technology News

March 15, 2012

No question about it, social media isn’t just an obsession for teenagers and geeks. It’s become a multibillion dollar customer service industry, as companies shift resources to create social media sites to interact with their customers. For lawyers and other legal professionals, deciding which sites you should join or avoid can be overwhelming.

Here are eight ways to use social media to help you reach your professional goals:

1. Develop your personal brand. What are you trying to communicate with your profile? Carefully consider the keywords you want to project: such as integrity, innovative, detail-oriented, accessible, hard working. Keep your our target market/audience in mind. Create a consistent message with professional photographs as your profile avatars. For example, if you work at a mainstream megafirm, you probably want to project an image as a conservatively dressed, reserved individual; if you work at Google, your colleagues would start laughing if you dressed that way.

2. Treat Twitter like a mini-press release. Social media novices may not fully understand all of the ins and outs of LinkedIn and Facebook, but generally “get it” when it comes to their purpose and target market. However, many people do not understand Twitter‘s functions or purposes. Most people do not know that every tweet is archived at the Library of Congress and is a permanent record of our generation.

When you “tweet,” you share up to 140 charters of text that can include links to websites, blogs, pictures, or video, with the entire world … literally. This can be an enormous marketing tool because the reach of a “tweet” is limitless, yet, there can be serious consequences when not done appropriately. For example, CNN News analyst Roland Martin recently was suspended for tweeting comments about David Beckham in an H&M commercial during the Super Bowl. Be mindful not to dilute your brand.

3. Knowledge is power. At least once a month, search your name in all major search engines, to know how the world sees you. Visit Google, Yahoo, and Bing and type your name in quotation marks to see what is out there.

Some people have such major concerns with security and privacy online that they choose not to participate on social media sites. Yet, they are often dumbfounded when they Google themselves to see the preponderance of inaccurate data about themselves online.

It’s better to control (as much as possible) your own information — offer a post office box for your address. Use a Google Voice telephone number — you can block foreign numbers and control various settings, rather than having various sites try to piecemeal or fabricate your personal information for you without your consent. Protect your brand. Sometimes you may have to send cease-and-desist letters to websites that are unlawfully using your written materials or intellectual property.

4. Check your reach. Naymz.com and Klout.com both help you add your profiles from major sites to rate your social media reach and amplification. Translation: When you update your status or send a tweet, they will track how many people “like” it, comment on it, share it, or “retweet” it to their networks. The wider your message is amplified, the greater your score. Compare your score to other members to see where you rank. These sites offer tips on how to expand your reach, with the goal being that your message resonates well with your target audience.

5. SEO rewards fresh new content. Search engine optimization helps your target audience find your website, profiles, and blogs. Although companies can buy words for advertising so that their sites appear on the first page of search engine results, adding keywords multiple times on your sites can increase the likelihood that your site will appear as a top result as well. Moreover, various search engine algorithms reward newer content to appear higher in results than static or old sites. This helps your target audience get exposed to your professional brand while they are looking for your products and services.

6. Automate and/or make updating your status easy. One of the most powerful social media tools is the “status update.” This is the broadcast message reintroducing your brand to your target audience on a frequent basis. There are various websites that allow you to update all of your social media sites, simultaneously, such as Hellotxt.com, TweetDeck, PingFm, and HootSuite. Some provide tracking and useful analytics, however, there are web address shortening sites such as bitly, that shrink very long URLs to eight to 10 characters and provide robust analytics of who is talking about and reading your information. This helps individuals who are concerned about their return on investment track results. For example, lawyers can share relevant articles, or case decisions.

7. Show off your expertise. Carefully choose sites where you can demonstrate your knowledge. For example, both Quora and LinkedIn Answers are vehicles where attorneys can answer basic questions, yet lawyers must exercise caution and carefully follow their jurisdictions’ ethical rules to avoid the appearance of an attorney/client relationship when they comment.

JD Supra has massive distribution channels consisting of thousands of Facebook and Twitter “followers” of various legal practices — such as mergers and acquisitions, or labor and employment litigation. When you post an article or pleading, it is disseminated to the masses with a link to the document on your profile. Subscribers receive these updates and can share them with others — a good way to get your name in front of possible clients.

8. Communicate consistently with your target audience. Many lawyers and firms use “client alerts” or email newsletters to educate current and potential clients. Constant Contact and Mail Chimp are examples of tools that help you send communications to large distribution lists. (However, you must be mindful of the federal and state laws regarding how to add people to your distribution lists.) Incorporate video (from YouTube , Vimeo, Knoodle, or other venues).

Social media is constantly evolving; dedicate time to keep current so that you can fully exploit its opportunities and stay aware of its risks.

Kevin L. Nichols is the principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco. Email: kevin@klnconsultinggroup.com.

How to develop a strong network

Originally Published on August 8, 2010 via The Globe Newspapers
Copyright © 2010 The Globe Newspaper Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved.

How to Build A Strong Network
By Kevin L. Nichols

Networking is a skill — better yet, an art form. Those that intuitively have a propensity to get along with others and develop strong bonds are more likely to be successful networkers. There are various intangible components that contribute to a networker’s success. It is important to identify some of these attributes and to strengthen what may not come naturally in order to develop the powerful network that you desire.

The first intangible is self-confidence. Marcus Garvey described it best when he said, “If you have no confidence in yourself, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won before you have started.” Since relationships are arguably now more of a commodity than the rise or fall of mutual funds or stock prices, confident people are more likely to network with people who they do not know. A confident person is not squeamish and is typically comfortable with striking up conversations, or introducing himself or herself to others in a crowd. This is essential for meeting new people and developing a viable network.

The second intangible is integrity. Integrity is an invaluable component because having it encourages your friends and colleagues to recommend/refer/introduce you to others whom you would like to get to know. (Sometimes you are not aware of why you need to know them, but your network does.) Essentially, having integrity is the best marketing tool because it creates opportunities for people to want to meet you and/or do business with you so that they, too, can benefit from being one of your acquaintances. How you carry yourself and how you handle your business is a direct correlation of how motivated and inspired other professionals will be to network with you.

The final component that will be discussed in this piece is nurturance. Frankly, many networkers underestimate the power of nurturance. Often, friends and colleagues are easily annoyed when someone only calls, emails, texts or sends a message via a social networking site when they “need” something. Your friends and colleagues do not want to feel taken advantage of or used. Thus, it is vital to create opportunities to reach out to your network on a periodic basis to make sure that you are connected in “peace time” just in case you need their backing to go to “war.” No matter how subtle, nurturing your network will allow you to lean on your network multiple times throughout a given time period because your network feels needed, not abused. Finessing this is similar to being in a committed relationship. If done correctly, you will develop a symbiotically respectful relationship with your network with the appropriate amount of giving and taking.

Like any relationship, developing a powerful network is not easy. It takes a lot of work and responsibility. But with confidence, integrity and nurturance, the building blocks are in place for a strong foundation. If you want to make something happen in your life, you need the courage to ask for what you want. Once you have asked, the decision that your network makes (whether or not to assist you) depends on what they know about you, your accomplishments and what type of person you are. How you have managed those relationships will determine whether or not you get the assistance that you desire.

The strength of your network rests in your hands. What will you do with it?

Kevin L. Nichols is the Principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco, which specializes in Litigation,
Diversity and Business Development/Social Media consulting.

For more information, please visit http://www.klnconsultinggroup.com.

Using LinkedIn as the “Pre-Game Warm-up” for Your Business Meetings

By: Kevin L. Nichols

 

(SAN FRANCISCO, February 21, 2012)  Retrospectively, I often ask myself, “How did we conduct business without email?” “How did we communicate that there were traffic delays or that we were running late without cell phones?” And more recently, I ask, “How did business people prepare for meetings with top executives or perspective clients before there was LinkedIn?”  Never before has there been a time when business people could conduct background research on the individuals whom they intend to meet with without asking them for their curriculum vitaes or biographies ahead of time, that is, not until LinkedIn.

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression.  Depending on your desired goals, “game time” occurs when you meet face-to-face to achieve the purpose of the engagement.  One key factor that is inherently present during a high octane meeting like this is the desire to appear knowledgeable, articulate, charismatic, honest, and trustworthy.  To meet this end, it is imperative that you “study the film” on the people who you intend to meet with.

Here are some tips of how you can use LinkedIn to “warm-up” before a big meeting with a potential client:

1.)    Education – Where the individual went to school can be the spring board for tremendous conversation and talking points.  Think about some questions or comments you might share in an unscripted way.  If they list the years that they attended the particular school(s) on their profile, do you know someone that went there during that time?  What city was it in and have you ever been there?  Sharing this information can be a great way to be an “ice breaker” before entering a more substantive topic.

2.)    Connections – Investigate who you know in common.  Knowing who they know can be a great indicator of what kinds of circles that they travel in and maybe an interesting segue into more in depth conversation of their interests.  For example, say that both of you share a colleague in common who is an avid golfer and you mention his/her name and their love of the sport.  The person who you are meeting with could respond that they played golf with him/her a couple of weekends ago, which leads you to setting up a date for the three of you to play.

3.)    Work Experience – In addition to looking for commonalities like #1 and #2, analyze their previous work experience to see if you can decipher an underlying theme or passion that the individual has in life.  Careful thought and consideration can pay off such that the person will pause that it meant enough to you to even think about such.  This is a “game changer” that most people would not feel comfortable taking a stab at.

4.)    Observations – Note various attributes of their profile, such as how many connections they have (could imply that are an open networker or private and guarded), whether they have any applications linked to their account, such as Tripit or Twitter (shows that they are savvy, risk takers, etc.), or whether they have a picture (communicates that they might be very conservative, shy, down-to-Earth, outgoing, etc.).

Ultimately, there is no full-proof method of achieving your desired outcome for a business meeting.  However, using LinkedIn to create useful and sound “talking points” will give you a great place to start your conversation to lead it in the right direction.  Remember that this an informal style of communication and only you can judge whether or not the timing is right.  It takes someone with enough confidence and “swagger” to finesse such discussions, yet the outcome can determine whether you are fit to play in the Arena League or the National Football League.

Kevin L. Nichols is the Principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco, which specializes in Litigation, Diversity and Business Development/Social Media consulting.

For more information, please visit http://www.klnconsultinggroup.com.