Success Leaves Clues: Mediator Interview Series Part 1

Last week I announced a my new interview series, Success Leaves Clues. The series shares wisdom from mediators and other ADR professionals who are successful, respected, and know a thing or two about leveraging technology and the Internet to accomplish their work. I’ll post new additions to the series as I interview mediators in coming months.

microphoneIt seemed fitting to start the series with two mediators whose work I admire, whose use of the Internet is leading edge, whose generosity of spirit is noteworthy, and who are just great fun:

Diane Levin is a successful mediator, trainer, and attorney in the Greater Boston (U.S.) area. She’s also the mind behind the outstanding Online Guide to Mediation, a highly respected blog offering reflection and news on the ADR field. I met Diane through our involvement in New England Association for Conflict Resolution and am blessed to count her among my friends. And never can we have a conversation without also talking about our dogs!

Geoff Sharp is a successful commercial mediator based out of Wellington, New Zealand. He writes about his work at the witty, delightful blog mediator blah…blah…. I think of Geoff as the rock star of mediators because he’s always jetting off somewhere exotic and rounds up captivating briefs about his experiences. One day I’ll actually meet him in person and will have to have pen and paper ready for his autograph!

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?

Geoff supplied his response via video…I love that! For more on Geoff’s use of video, be sure to visit his Mediation vBlog Project.

Diane:

Think about your practice–the work that you do as a mediator. To be successful, that work needs support. That support comes from two key activities: 1) marketing and 2) practice management. Marketing feeds your practice. The ability to manage your practice well sustains it.

But in the 21st century, there’s something else you need. Something that can help you marketing your business more effectively and affordably. And something that will help you manage your practice more efficiently. And I’ll throw in one more adverb as well–more easily.

It’s technology. Yup, technology.

“What, me?” you say. “Use technology? Are you crazy? No way–it’s too hard! I’ll blow up my computer! I’ll accidentally launch DEFCON 1!”

You’re not alone in thinking that.

Not too long ago I worked with a group of fellow volunteers on a project that required a series of meetings. I’d been the one to schedule meetings thanks to an easy-to-use online tool, MeetingWizard.com. I was going to be out of town one week, so I asked if someone from the group would volunteer to take over for me–reassuring everyone how easy and intuitive it was to use. Every one of them hastily declined, claiming it was “too hard” and that they didn’t have time to learn how to do it. Instead, one of them volunteered to schedule the last meeting the old-fashioned way–emailing or phoning everyone, asking for their availability, and then performing the time-consuming task of picking the best date based on all the responses.

Ironically, it would have taken that person only a fraction of the time to accomplish the job had they used MeetingWizard.com. Minutes instead of hours.

This experience made me realize that technology has a big image problem. Most people are terrified of it. They see a roaring lion instead of the fuzzy kitten it really is (with all the lion’s formidable strength).

The thing is, you’re using technology already without even realizing it. Do you have a phone? You’re using technology. Does that phone come with voice mail? Guess what? That’s technology. Do you have a computer? An email address? That’s technology, too.

Something else I’ll bet you didn’t know. The technology that’s out there–to help you market and manage your practice–is no harder to use than voice mail or email.

A good place to get started is with a handbook that Tammy and I created, ADR in the 21st Century: Easy Tech Tools to Manage and Market Your Practice, for a workshop at the 2007 Annual Conference of the Association for Conflict Resolution’s New England Chapter.

Don’t let your fear hold you back. Let your curiosity draw you forward.

Tammy: Diane’s invitation to let curiosity draw you forward seems pretty darn apropos for mediators. Diane and I have helped literally hundreds of mediators use technology like the web to build their practices…and they learned how just like we did.

Tomorrow I’ll share what Geoff and Diane told me was the most successful way they’ve leveraged technology to build their ADR practices.

                        author

Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at https://tammylenski.com/archives/… MORE >

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