The ABA Techshow, one of the largest legal tech gatherings of the year, runs the rest of this week in Chicago.

Legal technology companies, new and old, will be there in spades.

All seeking attention. All wanting the love.

The companies and their people will be all over social media. Look at who we are. Look at what we do. Look at a new feature we just launched. Look at who we partnered with.

The problem is you get the love on social media only when you give the love on social media. At a ratio of about ten to one, too – you’ll receive ten times as much love as you give.

Rather than looking at social media as a neon sign with your name in lights, look at social media as a means to have a conversation with someone and to build a name over time. You do this by giving a little love to the people you’d like to talk with – online or offline.

It’s not hard. Make a list of the people and companies at Techshow with whom you’d like to engage.

If you’re seeking publicity for your company or a new product, the influencers ought to be at the top of your list.

The influencers? Leading tech bloggers, reporters (if you can find any), trusted industry leaders who have a nice presence on social media – could be company leaders, lawyers, bar executives or anyone who’s developed a nice following over time.

Also on the list are the names of companies and individuals who’d you like to meet, if not at this show, then down the road.

Maybe it’s a company or two with whom you’d like to work with. Or a company founder or executive from whom you’d let to get a little guidance.

Now you need to stick out your hand and shake theirs – online.

Monitor the #abatechshow hashtag on Twitter. When the people or organizations on your list tweet something they are proud of, a new product launch, that their team is in Chicago or whatever, retweet it, giving them a little kudos. Maybe it’s them reporting something you could share.

Just like walking into a room full of folks at a conference, you can only engage those people there. So be flexible as to those you’re engaging on Twitter via the ABA TechShow hashtag. By engaging those not on your list, you’ll meet others.

As you walk around the exhibit floor, make note of the companies and organizations you’d like to meet. Stop at their booths, talk to the people and get to know them a bit.

Also, put together a Twitter list of the people and organizations whom you’d like to engage. The list will pick up everything from these folks, including that which didn’t reference conference hashtags.

Take picture or two of the people and their booth. Share the photo on Twitter, giving a shout out to the company as to what you thought particularly cool. Maybe it was the people, the history of the company or a new launch. Doesn’t matter.

Make sure in all your Tweets, you’ve included the Twitter handle of the individuals and organizations. That way they’ll see you.

Social media, for building a reputation and relationships, is all about shining a light on others. Doing so you’ll end up in conversations, online and offline.

Niki Black, an attorney and legal technology evangelist at MyCase, does a wonderful job of giving love to others on social media as means of building MyCase’s brand.

She’s blogged about her observations at conferences, giving shoutouts to people and companies as part of her reporting.

This last year she’s been doing video interviews of legal tech entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers right at MyCase’s booth. The videos are nicely edited and then run over a few months time – all strategically shared across social media. Who wouldn’t like that type of love?

Beer for Bloggers events, hosted by LexBlog at tech conferences over the last thirteen years, were started as a way to give a little love to Bloggers and other industry professionals who always spoke kindly of LexBlog online and offline.

For the last ten years, LexBlog has conducted video Interviews at legal conferences all over the country. We wanted to portray the people interviewed as heroes for companies they founded or initiatives they launched, be it even their blog. Conference coordinators loved it was well.

Be different. Engage others. You think you’ll get the ear of Bob Ambrogi, the “Dean of Legal Tech Reporting,” by shouting at him and the world on Twitter.

  • “Easy timekeeping wherever you go – stop by Booth #318 while at ABA Techshow…”
  • “We will be at booth 821 #ABATECHSHOW tomorrow in the Startup Alley section #legaltech”
  • “Boost #SEO, #PPC and turn visitors into customers. Contact us for a FREE consultation at 619.567.9322. #ABATECHSHOW”
  • “…is going to #ABATECHSHOW this week and we’re revealing new product! Stop by Booth 808 and see what the buzz is about!

ABA Techshow, a conference filled with down-to-earth tech companies, industry leaders and lawyers, is a great place to learn to use social media the right way.

By giving a little love.

If you’re looking for inspiration, camaraderie and practical information, you could do a lot worse than attending next week’s ABA TechShow in Chicago.

While other legal technology conferences have companies paying to put people on panels and exhibitors selling wares that are beyond the comprehension of 90% of lawyers, the ABA TechShow is for the real lawyers in this country. The vast majority of lawyers who practice as solos and in smaller law firms.

Attorney and legal technology columnist, Bob Ambrogi, took a look at word clouds culling media coverage of the ABA TechShow and ALM’s LegalTech, the later unquestionably the largest and leading technology show and conference.

The difference between the two word clouds is striking. Whereas e-discovery dominated Legaltech, look at the words that dominate Techshow: lawyers, law firm, clients, practice, legal and learn.

Solos and smaller firms are looking for practical information which can bring efficiencies to their practice, make representation of clients better and up the quality of their lives. The ABA TechShow brings this in a number of ways.

The educational sessions taught by practicing lawyers, law practice management consultants and tech company leaders focus on practical knowledge you could walk away and use tomorrow. Not to worry about being a tech neophyte, there are plenty of sessions which get down to the very basics.

I’ve been a “mild critic” of TechShow’s speakers, arguing they ought to have more technology company speakers versus the emphasis on consultants, authors and lawyers. No one is studying the future of technology more than the folks working on it every day. And any company leader worth their salt is not going to be hawking their wares from the podium.

Glancing over the roster for this year I see more speakers from technology companies – companies that are improving the practice of law and companies bringing greater access to legal services.

The vast majority of such speakers are from small companies, women and men that solos and small firm lawyers can relate to. This means open and frank discussion between tech execs and attendees — during the sessions and at social events.

The exhibit hall is filled with entrepreneurs, inventors and mostly small technology companies. Company founders and leaders are on the floor speaking with lawyers. This not only makes for better products and solutions, but fosters relationships where lawyers feel ownership of a company’s growth and success.

Rather than looking at technology leaders as “vendors,” TechShow’s perspective is let’s get lawyers and technology leaders talking. It’s a win-win for lawyers, companies and the people we all serve as legal professionals.

TechShow would be nothing without its parties and social events. Rather than a party hosted by ABC company where people come and go, there’s the feel at TechShow that the companies hosting receptions and parties are doing it to give something back to TechShow and attendees. “We’re hosting this so you may continue to engage at this conference we’ve all come to love.”

The ABA Journal and LexBlog are honored to be hosting our 9th annual “Beer for Bloggers (and everyone else)” on Friday evening. What started as a small get-together has become a TechShow ritual that draws a big crowd. Thank God we missed St. Patrick’s Day by one day this year.

Camaraderie and inspiration may be the best reasons to attend TechShow. First time attendee or coming for your fifteenth year, you’ll feel right at home. After all, you’re all in the same boat. And as small firm lawyers you’re used to speaking and engaging with others — it’s your lifeblood.

TechShow offers dinner sign-ups to dine with tech leaders and cohorts. You’ll be speaking with peers in between sessions and around the concierge counter. And you’ll be out having beers with old friends and people you just met that may become friends for life.

I came to the TechShow on the spur of the moment twenty years ago in 1997. I was a small town trial lawyer and did not know a sole.

I was blown away. Admitedly, I even thought the Sheraton’s having about ten escalators was really something — my town only had half an escalator in the JC Penny.

I remember walking up to the registration desk and meeting law practice management author and consultant, Ed Poll, whose columns I read and cassette tapes I subscribed to. Wow.

Immigration attorney, Greg Siskind, who I consider as the godfather of Internet marketing for lawyers and who penned the first book on Internet marketing for lawyers in ’96, then took me under his arm. He introduced me to Law Practice Management Section leaders and tech leaders such as Dennis Kennedy and Jerry Lawson, who I had only known from their websites. Understand that websites were few and far between then.

I am not sure I would have left the practice to start two legal technology companies had I not attended TechShow in 1997. TechShow opened ny eyes to what was possible with technology — and what was possible for even the average non-tech guy like me with a dream.

Check out TechShow. There’s still plenty of time to register and attend.

It’s in Chicago too. That’s in the Midwest — the middle — where all the good stuff comes from.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Mark Grapengator

The ABA Journal and LexBlog are hosting their 8th annual Beer (and wine) for Bloggers at the ABA TechShow this Friday evening.

You’re all invited, blogger or not, lawyer or not, attending TechShow or not. It’s been a great event for those in the legal profession and for those working in organizations serving the legal profession to get together.

The details?

  • 5:30-7 p.m., Friday, April 17.
  • Hilton Chicago’s Lakeside Green Lounge (Northeast corner on 1st floor), 720 S. Michigan Ave.
  • ABA Journal and LexBlog pick up the tab.

A big thank you to Molly McDonough (@molly_mcdonough), Managing Editor of the ABA Journal, for the the work she does in pulling this event together.

If you are looking for me I will at ABA TechShow all day Friday and can be reached by email, kevin@lexblog.com or cell, 206 321 3627.

Technology companies are starving for coverage on social media. It was on full display again at this week’s ABA TechShow.

As I walked around the show, companies wanted me to cover them. I’m the CEO of company, though admittedly one who has a lot of reach through this blog, Twitter, and our LXBN Network.

I’m not a reporter per se though who can spend three days covering companies – nor would my personal audience want me to.

Bob Ambrogi (@bobambrogi), one of the more trusted bloggers covering legal tech, media, and publishing, was sought out even more. “Can you do a story on us? How do we get on your blog?”

Bob’s a lawyer, consultant, and more. He blogs on the side. Plus he cannot be a shill for everyone without losing his journalistic integrity.

The problem arises out of a couple factors. One, traditional media coverage, though still there, is shrinking. Tech companies need coverage on social media.

Tech companies, often backed by millions in investment dollars, historically received media coverage by hiring PR and communications’ professionals who in turn would reach out to reporters for interviews.

The huge players such as LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters – WestLaw did much the same with their own people. They also paid for sponsorhips and bought advertsing with the large publishers.

But today the number of those reporters, and their employers (publishers) is shrinking. Best I could tell the ABA TechShow, one of the largest legal technology shows in the country, was not even covered by ALM publications or other mainstream legal reporters — other than the ABA Journal.

Add to this that many publishers in the legal verical put content behind a paywall. This prevents the coverage from being socially published.

Eliminate social publishing today and you’ve probably eliminated half of your audince. More importantly, you’ve eliminated coverage by big influencers of a company’s customers (bloggers and Twitter users sharing your story). These folks often laugh about paywalls.

Second, to get social coverage, you need to use social in a savvy way. Tech companies in the legal sector won’t slow down enough to blog and use other social media in an effective fashion.

Just ask one of their executives, who could become a trusted thoughtleader on social, to blog and use social personally. They look at you like you have two heads on.

“We have our marketing person and social media intern to handle that.” Or “We already have a blog in our website,” – like that will generate social coverage.

As a result, the company’s message is ignored by others on social who are looking for real and authentic engagement on developments in the industry.

What’s the answer? It’s unlikely to come from traditional media companies. Their strapped for resources – both human and capital. In addition, their people often lack a good understanding of social, something needed to get real social coverage today.

It’s more likely to come from new media companies. Breaking Media’s Above the Law and LexBlog’s LXBN Network are even possibilities.

LXBN TV coverage is appreciated by more than just the lawyers on the network. Tech companies love LXBN TV coverage at conferences and via Skype.

LXBN’s currated coverage of sessions at legal conferences is heaviliy viewed and shared socially.

Above The Law generates one milllion unique visitors a month. Place network coverage of events on that channel and see what happens.

Media players like Above the Law and LXBN also have good social media equity (relationships of trust with people who share socially). Without having individuals personally building this social media equity you’re dead in the water when it comes to social publishing.

Good coverage of events and news with reporters and video crews is not cheap though. New revenue models beyond advertising and sponsorships will be needed. Smaller media companies may even have an edge in going with new revenue streams over the larger players.

It will interesting to see how technology companies in the legal vertical receive coverage in this social media world. All we know is that it is not going back to the way it used to be.

20130407-112044.jpg I spent the last few days at the ABA TechShow in Chicago. It’s one of the largest law conferences and exhibit shows each year.

I’ve been going to the conference for 17 years, and it’s getting nothing but better. This year there was more of a vibe than ever.

In a passing exchange with one of TechShow’s boards members, where I thanked him for a job well done, he mentioned how much he liked the level of engagement between company leaders and the lawyers.

He said TechShow has always wanted to drive open discussion and engagement between inventors and lawyers so as to generate excitement for the lawyers and so that inventors (company leaders) could get feedback from lawyers.

When most conferences refer to companies as vendors, it was refreshing to hear TechShow’s perspective. I also suspect this attitude and mission plays a large part in why lawyers and companies serving the legal profession love coming back to TechShow year after year.

There’s so much to be gained from an open and frank discussion between lawyers/others working in law firms and the companies serving them. Not only does it make for better products and solutions, but it fosters real relationships where legal professionals feel ownership of a company’s success.

As with technology generally, large traditional players, are not going to drive innovation. Facebook, Evernote, YouTube, Twitter, and WordPress didn’t come from Microsoft or Oracle. Though giants in the law, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters are not known for their innovation.

Engagement where the rubber meets the road — between practicing lawyers and small innovative tech companies bringing the legal profession the future — is so valuable and what makes TechShow different.

Rather than a party hosted by ABC company where people come and go, there’s the feel at TechShow that the companies hosting receptions and parties were doing it to give something back to TechShow and the attendees. “We’re hosting this so you may continue to engage at this conference we’ve come to love.”

Going forward, TechShow shouldn’t hesitate to get company owners on conference panels speaking on what they’re doing. People pack rooms at tech conferences to hear from the leaders of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and much smaller tech smaller companies.

Why not a panel at TechShow with Jack, Larry, and Matt, from Clio, Rocket Matter, and MyCase, respectively? Let them discuss how they are taking practice management solutions, and more, to the cloud. Have the audience ask questions and challenge them based on a lawyers’ needs.

I’d welcome being on a panel with other small company leaders bringing innovative media and networking solutions to lawyers. Listening, engagement, and criticism is how we learn.

ABA TechShow continues to get better and better. If you are a lawyer, small or large firm, you ought to be taking advantage of it.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tim Sackton.

ChicagoWe’re two days in to the 3 day ABA TechShow in Chicago. It’s one of my favorite conferences of the year – feels like old home week having come for 16 years. A big thanks to all those who make it possible:

  • Tom Mighell and Reid Trautz, the program chairs this year. They’ll deny they had anything to do with running the thing, but go shake their hand and thank them.
  • The presenters and exhibitors. There’s learning all around. The best exhibitors bring and teach technology, they’re not trying to sell you something. Lawyers freely teach technology at all levels, knowing that innovation has not been adopted equally.
  • Lawyer volunteers from all over the country manning booths and the like to help attendees to get the most out of the show.
  • Members of the LPM section of ABA.
  • Hilton hotel personnel.
  • Chicagoans all over downtown who make this city one of the special places in the world to do business while feeling right at home the whole time. Is there a city that matches Chicago’s cab drivers and restaurant servers who serve as raving fans and ambassadors of their town?
  • Sponsors, many of whom pick up dinner and bar bills. ;)
  • Lawyers attending from all over the country. People seem pretty intent on learning how to harness technology to improve their lives and the lives of their clients

Only one request for next year. WiFi. The lack of widely available Internet reach has limited bloggers, people like LXBN which was going to do some live Skype interviews via an iPad, and exhibitors who cannot show some of the kick ass mobile apps and the like they’ve built. 36 things you are doing great, 1 not so great. That’s made for what I see as growing attendance at a time when other shows are struggling. I’ve spent more time off site meeting with law firms and other companies than at the conference, but it’s time to get back there for to Beer for Bloggers sponsored by the ABA Journal, LexBlog, and LXBN.

ABA TechShowI’ll be in Chicago from Saturday through Wednesday attending the American Bar Association’s TechShow.

I’ll be presenting at Ignite Law 2011 on Sunday evening, and be around the conference as well as visiting Chicago LexBlog clients Monday through Wednesday.

I’ll also be speaking at a meeting of the Chicago Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Committee on Wednesday at noon. It’s at the Chicago Bar Association Building in the Loop.

If you’d like to meet in Chicago, just drop me an email, or call my cell, 206 321 3627. I’d welcome getting together, even if briefly.

Taking place on Sunday evening from 8 to 10, Ignite Law will feature twelve provocative and creative talks about legal technology and the future of law practice. The 300 free tickets are gone, but there is a waiting list. As was the case last year, if you don’t have a ticket you’ll still likely get in.

Thanks to JoAnna Forshee of InsideLegal.com and Matt Homann of LexThink for their work in putting IgniteLaw together as well as their, host, ABA Law Practice Management Group, and sponsors Clio & RocketLawyer.

I attended my first ABA TechShow 14 years ago as a small town trial lawyer. I knew little, if anything, about how the Internet could enable and inspire me to better serve clients. I met some great people and came away inspired to learn how to better use the Internet for my own professional development as well as for a business development tool.

If you haven’t attended TechShow before, you ought to check it it.

LinkedIn EventsLinkedIn Events is now being used to highlight upcoming legal conferences. LegalTech NewYork, running from April 1 to 3, and the ABA TechShow in Chicago, running from March 25 to 27, are already displayed at LinkedIn Events.

Go to the ABA TechShow and the LegalTech New York pages at LinkedIn to RSVP that you will be attending. Your attendance will then be displayed at the respective event page and your network will be notified that you’ll be attending the conference on their LinkedIn home page.

LinkedIn Events allows you to see what events your LinkedIn network is attending and allows you to find events recommended to you based on your industry and job function. LinkedIn Events features allow you to:

  • Search for conferences.
  • Post important conferences to your profile.
  • Promote a conference.
  • See who will be attending a conference.
  • Show when you are presenting or an exhibitor.
  • Invite other contacts to attend.
  • Send a Network update out to your network telling them you will be attending a conference.

Legal conferences can be listed by conference coordinators or by you as an attendee. As a conference coordinator you can promote the conference across your LinkedIn network, including to members of your LinkedIn association group.

If you’re attending or presenting at a legal conference, LinkedIn Events is a perfect way to let your LinkedIn network know. You can even invite others to join you at the conference.

For legal solution providers, you’ll want to list that you’re attending or exhibiting at a conference. This will allow other attendees using LinkedIn will know you’re there.

Join the ABA Journal and LexBlog for drinks and mingling at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3. We’ll be at the Lakeside Green Lounge in the Hilton, located in the North end of the main lobby. We’re picking up the tab, so come get a nametag and a drink and meet some bloggers, Twitterers, lawyers and legal professionals. If you’re reading this, and plan on being in Chicago this weekend, we hope you can make an appearance.

You can sign up via the twtvite, by sending Kevin an email or Direct Messaging him on Twitter.

We look forward to meeting all of you.

Many companies will send out press releases to try to court bloggers and get them to write about new products. This usually has the opposite effect, as bloggers will promptly hit "delete" and take a skeptical view of that company in the future.

The MonetaSuite team is using the occasion of the ABA TechShow to take a creative approach other companies should emulate — actually coming to bloggers to introduce their innovative product and seeking out their feedback.

The company invited legal bloggers to a private dinner and breakfast in Chicago to introduce their new legal technology application MonetaMail. Attendees will receive a one-year’s licence to MonetaMail, with the expectation that they will provide feedback and input on their experiences with the product as they use it. Tonight’s dinner is at capacity; the Friday breakfast has only a few spots left. UPDATE: The breakfast is now full.

According to LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe, this is the most effective way to get bloggers interested in your product, as well as help yourself.

"You’re building relationships with early adopters of these products, of which a lot of them are bloggers," Kevin says. "You’re getting feedback from people on your product. They’re helping you improve it, and those enhancements are dictated by users, not developers. You also have bloggers who are influencers who have bought in to what you are doing. As they use the product, people who feel like they’re part of it will share their story with other people."