I’ve never met Victoria Pynchon in person. But I still think of her as Vickie, using the informal name I’d use with any friend. Such is the power of the Internet and blogs. Vickie is my latest interview for the Success Leaves Clues series.
First, a bit about her: After a 25-year career in complex commercial litigation and trial work, Victoria Pynchon, author of the Settle It Now Negotiation Blog and founder of the IP ADR Blog, became a full-time attorney-mediator. Victoria received her LL.M. in Conflict Resolution from the Straus Institute and her law degree from University of California at Davis King Hall School of Law. She is a neutral for the Southern California ADR firm, Judicate West and serves as a mediator on her own specialty ADR panel, Settle It Now Dispute Resolution Services.
I selected Vickie as one of my interviewees for a number of reasons. The most important is that I find her blog energetic and informative, a good mix from a marketing perspective. And the “voice” on her blog is clearly Vickie…you get a sense of exactly who she is from the way she writes. I think Vickie’s got the blog-marketing thing down cold! If you’re not yet reading her blog, you should be. Now for the interview…
Tammy: For mediators looking to build successful private practices, what do you think is most important for them to understand about the intersection of practice (managing, delivering services, marketing, etc.) and technology?
Vickie: Technology is the workhorse of business management and development. My “old tech” marketing is present and personal (lunches, joining working groups, giving seminars, pressing flesh). My “new tech” marketing is blogging and using the blog not simply to record my deepest insights and most glorious thoughts (yes, blogging is narcissistic) but joining the “high level conversation” already going on in the blogosphere in my market and industry (i.e., cruising my Google reader, where all my news and blogging sources are aggregated) everyday to see what my market is reading and then adding to the news/blog conversation among members of my market the perspective of someone trained in dispute resolution and the social psychology of conflict.
I also just bought a business card reader that reads those b. cards I pick up, promising myself to make notes on them, write them into my Outlook, etc. It’s worth its weight in gold. I should’ve bought it three years ago when I started my mediation business.
Tammy: What’s the most successful way you’ve leveraged technology to build your ADR-related work?
Vickie: I’ve begun using LinkedIn as a marketing source. This delivers to my virtual doorstep not only my market, but my market’s market, and my market’s markets’ market (3 degrees of separation). I ask questions of my extended network and answer their questions as well in the question/answer section of LinkedIn. I demonstrate my problem-solving ability this way and do people favors, remembering the power of reciprocity in building a practice (see Cialdini’s rules of influence). I recommend people who have been of great use to me and others recommend me. It’s a terrific resource and it connects you not only with lawyers but also with their clients. If you’re old enough to remember 33-1/3 LP’s, LinkedIn is networking at 78 r.p.m.’s. LinkedIn also makes it easy for me to download people’s v-cards into my Outlook, a task I’m afraid I’m often too lazy to do.
Tammy: What one tech gadget do you find most essential to managing your day-to-day work and why?
Vickie: Well, my computer, of course, but that card reader is pretty high on my list right now and Jott for sending myself email messages by phone. I don’t talk a lot on the telephone anymore. My life is email.
Tammy: What are your favorite three online resources for learning new information you need to keep your ADR-related work healthy and forward moving and why are they your favorites?
Vickie: Blogs, blogs and blogs. Because I’m an adjunct at a local law school, I get free westlaw and lexis, an incredible luxury that I wouldn’t pay for but use all of the time. My Google reader, which gives me all the info sources I rely on in one place – I scan 200-300 headlines/day.
Tammy: Tell me a funny or inspiring story involving your use of tech to build, manage or market your teaching, ADR practice or other related work.
Vickie: Hmmmmmm. Inspiring. Well, mediation is a very solitary profession. I spent my entire legal career (all 25 years of it) working in a law firm with partners and associates and paralegals, secretaries and mail room people, lunch rooms and luncheons and talk around the “water cooler” (read: cappuccino machine) in the morning. What has replaced that for me? Blogging. I have several new very close mediator friends who I met through mediation association events and bar association events. But I think I “talk” to my blogger friends more often than to anyone else. They’re smart, witty, kind, thoughtful, generous, literate, insightful, knowledgeable and writerly. We hardly ever speak, but I carry their voices in my head nearly every day. I am a better, more creative mediator because of them. I resolve ethical dilemmas more quickly and assuredly because of them. And mostly, I have a mediator “family” because of them.
LinkedIn. Card readers. Jott. Blogging. Vickie’s recipe for using technology well in her ADR marketing and management mix is definitely on track and worthy of attention. I knew I liked her!
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