Stacy N. Lilly News

Aug 29

Attorneys General Challenge the Insurance Coverage Mandate for U.S. Citizens:

The Health Care Reform Law raises some interesting constitutional issues that will likely be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court. I recently published on this topic in Columbus Lawyer magazine

Jul 14

It is not every day that I find myself inspired and motivated by the encouraging words of others.  But today was one of those great days.  I attended the WBDC/WBEC’s Executive Leadership Luncheon and had the opportunity to hear several truly inspirational business owners share some lessons learned on their paths to leadership.  In these challenging times, many people, and perhaps especially small business owners, could use a little encouragement.  Here are a few of the words that helped to brighten my day:

  • You will receive twelve no’s, before you hear a yes.  How many no’s have you heard recently?  Well, you are that much closer to your next yes!  Keep selling.  Keep planting those seeds.
  • There is no substitute for a strong work ethic.  The long hours will pay off.
  • Be passionate about yourself and your business.  It is infectious.
  • Listen.  To be interesting, you must first be interested.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Persevere and have patience.
Jun 29

Altman Weil recently released the results from its law firm survey which examined changes in the legal profession.  The report concluded that firms expressed a “growing enthusiasm” for the use of staffing alternatives, including contract attorneys.  This is good news for experienced freelance attorneys who market their services to firms who need specialized part-time, short term, or emergency help with their practices.

As I previously discussed here, the present legal climate has underscored the need for alternative solutions to the traditional law firm model.  The time-efficiencies and cost-savings associated with utilizing a freelance attorney instead of hiring a permanent associate are significant, and the Altman Weil report signals that firms are responding to economic and client pressures by offering alternative, more cost effective legal services.

The complete survey can be found at http://www.altmanweil.com/LFiT2010/.

Jun 20

As mentioned in my previous post, I was recently a guest speaker at the Columbus Women’s Business Development Center’s FastTrac New Venture Class. The twelve week program was developed for anyone interested in starting a business. It was created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and is designed to help participants evaluate and perfect their business concept and complete a comprehensive business plan.

My presentation included a discussion on social media.  Here are some of the highlights.

There is absolutely no substitution for face-to-face networking.  As a small business owner, the vast majority of my work has been through referrals from people I know or people I met through networking.

However, I also recommend having a social media presence.  Why?   First, it’s totally FREE!  When you are a small business owner and on a limited marketing budget, free is always good.  Social media is an amazing way to share information with people you would likely never have had contact with.  LinkedIn is the best platform for this as there are countless groups you can join to learn about topics that interest you or your business.  LinkedIn is also great for reconnecting, and staying connected, with your professional contacts as you, or they, move on to better opportunities.

Twitter is good for reading the latest news in your industry.  For example, I follow the American Bar Association’s solo and small firm division and receive updates almost every day on small firm news and trends.

When using social media for business, I recommend keeping your personal and business lives separate.  For example, set up a separate page on Facebook for your business and direct clients or customers to that page.  This way your new client is not subjected to photos of you at the beach.

Blogging is another way to share information about your expertise and business with others.  Blogs can help small businesses establish themselves as experts in certain areas, and also provide a perfect opportunity to drive people back to your website.

Whether you use one or all of the social media resources available, stay professional, meet new people, exchange information, and have fun!

May 19

I was recently a guest speaker at the Columbus Women’s Business Development Center’s FastTrac New Venture Class. The twelve week program was developed for anyone interested in starting a business. It was created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and is designed to help participants evaluate and perfect their business concept and complete a comprehensive business plan.

My presentation included a discussion of Best Networking Practices. I emphasized four key points:

First, face-to-face networking — there is no substitution!

In my experience as a small business owner, face-to-face networking is the single most important business development and marketing tool. Networking events labeled as such are perfect opportunities simply because, by definition, everyone is there to network. I make a point to go to such events alone because if I go with a friend or colleague, I know she and I will just want to catch up and we’ll miss the opportunity to meet other people.

I rarely turn down an invitation to network and meet other people. And opportunities are everywhere. Examples include happy hours, launch events, fundraisers, and industry meetings or conferences.

Second, be prepared to self promote

You never know when or where you will cross paths with a potential client or customer, and small business owners must always be prepared to explain what services or products they offer. Some people refer to this basic explanation as an “elevator speech” or “two minute drill”.

The speech is tweaked a bit depending on the audience. I also recommend developing a shorter, two sentence version for certain situations when a lengthier explanation may not be appropriate.   

Third, business cards – never leave home without them!

Small business owners must always have their business cards handy. This really seems like a no-brainer, but I cannot believe the number of people who “forgot” their cards, even at networking events.  Everyone receives no less than 100 cards in a box at a time. Put them in each of your bags, glove box, coats, or wherever it makes the most sense for you to have them readily available.

It is equally important to ask for business cards. But don’t just throw them in a junk drawer.  Immediately after receiving a card, make a note on the back of it. I personally meet a lot of attorneys, but I certainly discussed something different with each of them. That note helps me remember who’s who. I also add them to my contact list as soon as possible and send a quick email. That way hopefully I’m also saved to their contacts.

Finally, get involved

In addition to the personal satisfaction and reward of giving back to your community, volunteering your time or becoming a leader in a non-profit organization is a fantastic way to build professional relationships. For me, volunteer work is also an excellent conversation starter at networking and other social events, and has become an invaluable avenue for meeting new people.  Active involvement in your church or children’s extracurricular activities is another great way to expand your business contacts.

My presentation to the FastTrac New Venture Class also addressed Tips on Social Media. Stay tuned for my next post.