Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Growing your business: Using LinkedIn to help get it done!


LinkedIn can be a great tool for your business!

For the most part all of us have heard of Facebook and Twitter, but for business there is an equally useful "network" by the name LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a tool that allows you to leverage the business contacts that you already have by giving you the ability to meet and potentially connect with the business contacts that they have.

As I have been told many times it is not only the person you meet at any given time that is important for your business (although that person of course is), but the legions of people who they know as well.

LinkedIn is an unbelievable tool for getting questions answered on just about any topic that you can think of, in addition to being a resource for any number of other business functions as well.

LinkedIn Statistics
  • 61% use LinkedIn as their primary professional networking site. (Facebook - 22%, Twitter - 4%, None - 13%)
  • 35% access LinkedIn on a daily basis.
  • 67% access LinkedIn at least weekly.
  • 81% of LinkedIn users belong to at least one group.
  • 52% participate in group discussions.
  • Top level executives use LinkedIn for industry networking more than any other purpose.
  • 90% of LinkedIn users believe LinkedIn is useful.
  • "It helps me to connect to individuals in my industry as possible clients."
  • "It is more professional than Facebook."
  • It allows me to hire people that I wouldn't regularly meet."
Source

What is LinkedIn? (Article from BusinessKnowHow.com)

LinkedIn is a rapidly growing professional network with over 120 million members, 60 million in the US alone. At its bare minimum, it's a place online where you can reconnect with former colleagues. But if you utilize it to its full potential, it's a powerful marketing tool and social networking resource, as well as a knowledge pool that you can tap into at any time, without consulting fees. It gives you the opportunity to build business relationships all over the world without leaving your office. People like to do business with people they know, and LinkedIn brings that personal connection to your business.

So how does it work?

You start with a profile, listing your education, skills, and professional experience. If a company or university in your profile is already in LinkedIn's database, you'll get a list of people you may know and you can send requests through LinkedIn for those people to join your network. You can also search for individual names or email addresses, or you can allow LinkedIn to search your email contacts for members. If you click "Add Connections" in the upper right corner of the page, then click the "People You May Know" tab, you will see a list of people who are connected to your contacts. You can then ask your contacts to introduce you. The idea is to "meet" new people through the people you already know to expand your existing network - "Six Degrees of Separation (or Kevin Bacon!)" for business. You can then use this trusted network to find new career opportunities, new clients, vendors, business partners or employees.

How do I get started?

The New User Guide in the LinkedIn Learning Center promises to have you up and running on LinkedIn with three steps in just ten minutes, but Dave Taylor (who writes The Business Blog @ Intuitive.com and Ask Dave Taylor!) recommends spending a good deal more time on your profile. Think of it as your online business card - the first impression you will make on potential clients or employers. Your LinkedIn profile will likely be the first search result when someone looks for you on Google, so make sure your profile is professional, complete, and up-to-date. Link your Twitter and blog updates to your profile, include a professional photo, and build your online reputation with recommendations from colleagues. Link back to your LinkedIn profile from your blog and Twitter profiles.

What will it do for my business?

As long as you have a company email address, you can set up a Company Page that customers can follow for updates on your business, or to review your products and services, and to provide you with endorsements and testimonials. Freelancers can search for work by position, location or company. Use Resume Builder from LinkedIn Labs to pull current information from your profile and generate a professional resume in seconds.

The real value for a small business is the easy access to information from a community of people willing to share. When you join LinkedIn Groups in your field, you share your questions and expertise with your peers. If you're facing a particular problem in your business, odds are someone else has already experienced that problem and solved it. With LinkedIn Answers, you can pose a question to specific connections in your network and get answers from your connections, their connections, and experts who use LinkedIn. Stay on top of the news in your industry with LinkedIn Today. You'll see not only the relevant headlines being shared on LinkedIn and Twitter, but who is sharing them and what companies they represent. With LinkedIn Search, you can query the entire network by name, title, company, location, or keywords.

Add me to your network

After reading the statistics and some background on the benefits and uses of LinkedIn, if you are convinced visit my profile and add me to your connections here using the email address mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com.

This will in turn allow you to leverage my hundreds of contacts for your business.








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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An urban myth of title insurance


A title insurance anecdote, sworn by some to be true (and by others to simply be an anecdote)! It's amusing either way!

This tale of title insurance takes place down in Louisiana and is both an interesting and amusing tale.

Subject: Louisiana Lawyer

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan
 would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of
property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back
to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down. After sending the
 information to the FHA, he received the following reply:

(Actual letter)

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we 
note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we 
compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the 
application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the
 proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be 
accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows (actual letter):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note 
that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by 
the present application.

I was unaware that any educated person in this
 country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know 
that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of 
origin identified in our application.

For the edification of uninformed FHA 
bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain.

The land came 
into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by
 a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege
of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good 
queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as 
the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she 
sold her jewels to finance Columbus' expedition.

Now the Pope, as I'm sure
 you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is
 commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to
 presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana.

God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to 
before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope 
you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn 
loan?"

The loan was approved.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

What happens if your title insurance underwriter stops writing policies?

The transactional real estate market has recently been forced to face just such a situation when New Jersey Title was “asked” to cease writing policies insuring title for residential and commercial property purchases and refinances.

This is yet one more chapter (or casualty) in the financial crisis and real estate collapse that began a few years ago that has revealed cracks in the foundation of firms that might otherwise have remained hidden.

What this situation with New Jersey Title does point out is one of the basic tenets of business. This rule states that it is best not to have to high a percentage of business exposure coming from any one source.

This is true whether you are the provider of the product; in this case the underwriter, or the end-user of the product that in this case would be the agents and attorneys.

For New Jersey Title one or two bad actors appear to have had the capacity to bring the firm to its knees and to effectively put them out of business.

For the agents writing solely through New Jersey Title, they are now forced to scramble to find a new underwriter who will consider bringing them on in an environment where the standards for underwriters to accept new business has become much more strict.

So what is an agent or an attorney with business to place to do in a case such as this? The process for application to an underwriter takes time, and clients looking to close a transaction cannot wait. At the same time there are no guarantees that the application to the underwriter will be successful.

This is the time where quick and thoughtful action is required (a contradiction in terms) and relationships need to be forged with agents who are willing to work with you.

It is not easy and no firm wants to jump from the frying pan into the fire, so as much due diligence as can be done in a short period of time needs to get done and then those agents a company feels are viable alternatives for them need to be reached out to.

As with everything involved with the real estate crisis much of this is new territory, but with clear and focused thinking company’s can make it through and live to fight another day!

For anyone who may be facing this situation, please feel free to give Hallmark a call.


Michael Haltman, Partner

Hallmark Abstract Service

131 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 205

Jericho, New York 11753

516.741.4723

mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

New Jersey Title: What happens if your title insurance underwriter stops writing policies? | Hallmark Abstract Service LLC - JDSupra




New Jersey Title: What happens if you’re title insurance underwriter stops writing policies? | Hallmark Abstract Service LLC - JDSupra

New Jersey Title, an underwriter of title insurance policies in the northeast, has become a casualty of a financial and real estate crisis that has taken many victims.

Some of these casualties might never have occurred if the crisis has not taken place, but because it did there are firms and individuals who now face the need to find alternatives at a time when those alternatives may be difficult to come by.

Read the story at JD Supra here.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The US rating downgrade versus the US housing market

The island of Manhattan, from which the term i...Image via Wikipedia














Is there any relationship between the S&P downgrade of US debt and the potential for a recovery in the US housing market?


After the S&P downgrade of the United States from AAA to AA+, the rating agency downgraded the ratings for Fannie Mae, the Federal Home Loan banks and Freddie Mac as well. The rationale was that these entities have "a direct reliance on the U.S. government."

There is an excellent article I would recommend reading to stay up to speed on the situation with the housing market as it exists now, with The Hallmark Abstract Sentinel keeping you current on any developments in the future.

"U.S. downgrade: How will it impact housing fundamentals"




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Friday, August 5, 2011

Do you blog for your practice? You probably should!


Blogging for your practice!

We've all heard about blogging and chances are that each day we might read one or two.

But how many law practices actually do it themselves? And, is it a necessary part of growing a business?

For many of us who run a small business or for solo practitioners, the thought of adding one more responsibility can seem daunting. However, the benefits of establishing a web presence beyond just your website is definitely worth the effort.

Growing your reach, name recognition and establishing yourself as an "expert" in your field!

These are just some of the ways that a blog can help you and your practice grow.

If running out of ideas for topics to write about is one of the things holding you back from starting, the list below helps take care of that problem!

Hallmark Abstract Service would be happy to help!

While our business is title insurance, if your firm is interested in learning the basics for setting up a company blog we would be more than happy to stop by and show you how.

It won't take much time for you to be on your way!

Just give us a call, ask for Mike Haltman and I would be happy to help!

Potential sources for story ideas!

1. Google Alerts, newspapers and magazines. Use current events as a springboard for your blog entries.

2. Ask yourself, “What’s the next big trend?” or “What’s next?” Everyone wants to know what's over the horizon.

3. Read your competitors’ blogs and comments. Seeing what other lawyers are writing about will prompt you to think of a blog topic.

4. Ask yourself, “What is my client’s biggest fear or concern?” Writing about what keeps them up at night will always be a well-read entry.

5. Conduct an interview. Spend a few minutes on the phone with the head of a trade association, an author in your field or event a client. People enjoy when you put them in the spotlight and you will share in their credibility.

6. Write a sequel or follow up to a past post. Look over your greatest hits, using your blog traffic reports. If a topic was worth writing about, it will probably be worth returning to.

7. Ask a question. Is there an issue in your area of practice that you’re tackling? Discuss your mixed feelings. You can use Zoomerang to insert a reader poll into your blog for free.

8. Make a prediction. You don't have to be right and no one will hold you to account. But it's interesting to read what people think will happen.

9. Review the past. How has your area of practice changed over the past year? Five years?

10. Create a regular feature. Focus on a recurring basis on a topic of continuing interest -- like a high profile trial.

11. Read your comments. If a reader took the time to give their opinion, it could be a topic worth exploring.

12. Read your social media group’s questions. What are people chatting about on LinkedIn? Answer on your blog, then go back and provide a link.

13. Recruit a guest. Or two. When all else fails, call for backup. Sometimes you just need to take the pressure off so your post-generator has a little time to recuperate.

Source

Michael Haltman, Partner

Hallmark Abstract Service

131 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 205

Jericho, New York 11753

516.741.4724 (O)

516.741.6838 (F)

mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

Visit Hallmark Abstract Service here.

Visit The Hallmark Abstract Sentinel here.

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