Beware of ‘funny business’

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“It was three days before Christmas and I almost got scammed. Luckily I foiled the dastardly plan. They wanted to charge me exorbitant membership fees, but the bait and switch tactic was easy to see. I’ve got to admit it was a pretty neat trick. The people that pull it are certainly slick. I’m happy to say it was just a close call. And you’d better believe I won’t forget it at all.”

Yes, I’m making light of the situation. But in all honesty I am lucky I can afford to do so. If my instincts hadn’t kicked in when they did, I could have been bilked for hundreds of dollars.

That’s somewhat ironic. And scary.

As a police reporter, I spent a lot of time writing about the predators who take advantage of unsuspecting people. I’ve also been the victim of identity theft – someone stole my Social Security number after I was divorced and used my married name (which I had already changed) to claim my tax refund. Needless to say, clearing up that mess was a lot of fun.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner Alexandra Bogdanovic

As a new business owner, I was peripherally aware that I could be a target for unscrupulous individuals or organizations. Or, as in this case, for what could very well be a perfectly legitimate organization using what are, in my opinion, questionable tactics.

Here’s what happened. I received an invitation to join this group. I checked out its website and was intrigued by what I saw. I was also reassured by the fact that this particular organization is currently advertising on a well-known social media site. Long story short, I filled out the initial form and was informed that a membership coordinator would be in touch.

The aforementioned coordinator contacted me on December 22. After asking a series of questions, she informed me my membership was approved. After some more small talk and flattery, she said I could choose from a couple of different membership plans, costing approximately $900 and $700 respectively. When I expressed my surprise and displeasure, she offered some “affordable” alternatives. I again declined, this time more forcefully.

“This is a classic example of a bait and switch,” I said. “I don’t want any part of it.”


If you’re a new business owner, you may also be targeted. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Before you commit to anything, research it thoroughly.
  • Do not be fooled by glossy marketing material or slick websites.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Be wary of any organization that does not provide information about dues or membership plans up front.
  • Be wary of any organization that asks for credit card or other personal information over the phone.




Starting from scratch

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I did it.

On Tuesday afternoon, I set up a new Twitter account to be used solely for my business. It makes sense. It was the right thing to do.

This will eliminate the confusion that resulted when I tweeted about business matters from my personal account. As I mentioned on Monday, I created that account when I was building my brand as an author and promoting my book. I also use that account to post photographs, chat with friends, share meaningful quotations and so forth. So you can see why it caused some consternation when I started tweeting about something entirely different out of the blue.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner Alexandra Bogdanovic

Speaking of confusion, I must admit I’m having a hard time setting up my new Google+ page, navigating all the nuances of Google My Business, etc. I don’t know why that’s the case. I had no trouble with the set up for my personal page. At any rate, I appreciate your patience and hope you’ll bear with me until I get everything sorted out.

I’m still debating whether or not to build a Facebook page. I’ve heard it’s a good idea, but I’m not convinced it’s the right thing to do. As I said on Monday, I’ve got my hands full as it is.

I’ll let you know what I decide to do. In the meantime, please feel free to follow me @InBriefLegalWS on Twitter if you’re already there. You can also view my profile by clicking on the link at the bottom of my website.

Leading by example

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“… I guess it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.”

Now it’s officially official. Or something like that.

I launched on December 7. So now In Brief Legal Writing Services is finally open for business. So it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

This venture began based on the idea that most attorneys are way to busy with the daily demands of their jobs to keep up with the demands of the digital world. It’s perfectly understandable. Whether you are running your own practice, working as an associate in a small firm or a partner in a large one, your clients are your first priority. Meeting their needs is paramount.

Of course you’ve probably heard that updating your website and blogging on a regular basis is the most effective way to keep your current clients informed and engaged. You’ve probably heard that it’s a great way to attract new ones, too. Even so, putting this advice into practice is probably the furthest thing from your mind.

That’s where I can help. When you drop the ball, I can pick it up and run with it. You probably don’t have time to do one new post per week much less three. But I do. You might not have the time to put the news about your latest accomplishments on your website. But I can do that, too.

I can also lead by example. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. Starting next week, you’ll be able to find three new posts per week right here. Initially you’ll gain insight into my experiences as a burgeoning entrepreneur. As time goes on, I’ll provide effective writing techniques; share some of my favorite reading material; and share my opinions on timely legal issues, current events and more.

In the meantime, I’m always here to help. But I need yours, too. Please vote in the following poll to help me learn how I can best meet your needs.




Social networking

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“…at the end of the day, nothing beats a firm handshake, direct eye contact… and a smile.”

There’s a lot to learn when you’re starting your own business.

Trust me. I speak from experience.

Just deciding to take the plunge is scary. Then you’re confronted with all of the legal and technical aspects of getting your new venture off the ground. Throw in the 21st century emphasis on branding –especially branding through digital marketing — and it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed.

Does your new business have a Facebook page? How about LinkedIn? Speaking of LinkedIn, how do you build a winning profile? Once you’ve done that, how do you optimize it? That’s just the beginning. Do you have a website? If you build a website, should it include a blog? Is blogging really an effective marketing tool?

Should you tackle all of this yourself, or hire someone to do it for you?

Are you intimidated yet?

Personally, figuring all of this out wasn’t as hard for me as it would have been if I didn’t have prior experience creating an online presence and building a brand. I did that after my memoir, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey, was published in 2012. As an indie author, you learn to do everything yourself.

Yes, book promotion resulted in a healthy appreciation for social media. On the other hand, launching In Brief Legal Services resulted in renewed appreciation for good old-fashioned social networking. There’s a lot to be said for getting out and meeting new people with common interests and experiences. There’s even more to be said for meeting new people with different interests and experiences.

To that end, I’ve joined the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association, and I had a blast at its annual Employer Appreciation luncheon in Hartford. Because I’m a firm believer in active participation in any group I join, also I’m writing an article about the event for an upcoming edition of the CCPA’s newsletter, Paraphrase.  I’ll let you know when it comes out. In the meantime, I am sure I’ll get involved in more groups as In Brief Legal Writing Services grows.

Of course there are no guarantees. Sometimes old-school networking pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t. But at the end of the day, nothing beats a firm handshake, direct eye contact… and a smile.


Trial and error

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It’s official. In Brief Legal Writing Services is finally open for business.

Or at least it will be by the time you read this.

So I guess you could say that I’m ready to get to work — except for the fact that getting to this point has been a pretty big job in and of itself.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner Alexandra Bogdanovic

It all began with a tremendous leap of faith. Yes, making the decision to start my own business was the biggest, and arguably the scariest step I’ve taken but it was just the first. Since then I’ve been taking a lot of “baby steps.” Among other things, I enrolled in a couple of web design classes so I could learn how to create my own “virtual workplace.”

Each class was six weeks long. Building this site took the better part of three weeks. Along the way, I had more than my share of frustration. I stumbled, I fell. I got up. I tried again. I cried. I resisted the urge to throw my computer out of the window. I learned a lot and believe it or not, I had fun.

Yes, I could have paid someone to create a site. I suppose that would have been quicker. Perhaps it would have been easier. I am sure I could have spared myself a lot of exasperation.

But in the end there’s no guarantee that I would have gotten a site I like as much as this one. And I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the satisfaction of designing it myself.