IT'S ALL FREE! Are You Annoying?

Like all new legal nurse consultants, you have a unique blend of knowledge and experiences. But you may also have some personal traits or a life situation that clients or potential clients find so annoying that they won't give you new cases or hire you at all.

So what are some of those annoying things?

* Failure to meet deadlines. Your clients have their own deadlines that they have to meet. If you're late, so are your clients. The solution? Ask potential clients about the scope of the project in advance, including the number of records to review, date needed, and if they need a written report,  because a written report requires much more time than a verbal one. Then decide in advance if you can meet the attorney's deadline.

* Business call problems. Kids, pets, music and television background noises can undermine your professionalism. Think of it this way: When you call a conservative professional business, is it standard to hear dogs barking, kids fighting, or a television set blaring in the background? The solution? For a planned business call, arrange for a baby sitter or relative to watch the kids and pets while you find a quiet area for the business call. If an attorney calls you unexpectedly, you can ask to phone back at a time that you know will be quieter for you. "Things are just crazy here now. Would it be possible to talk at 2:00 p.m. today?"

* Non-responsiveness to requests. Not responding to client requests on time can cost you. I once worked with a physician who agreed to serve as an expert but he never sent me the updated CV and fee schedule that I asked for. After several attempts to get the material over a period of weeks, I had to drop him as an expert. If he couldn't get back to me about such a simple request, how was he going to review all the medical records I needed to send him? The solution to non-responsiveness? When your client asks you for information or leaves you a message, respond within a day or two.

* Billing problems. Inaccurate bills, failing to account for all your hours, charging for something not agreed upon by the client, or sending bills irregularly can undermine your credibility. The solution? Keep track of your hours, word each billing entry accurately and avoid billing blunders.

* Business card problems. When networking, having out-of-date business cards (or no business cards at all) is a signal that you're not serious about your business. There's nothing more unprofessional than having to cross out information and hand write new information on a business card. The solution? The price of business cards is very reasonable. Order new ones so that the information on them is up-to-date and always carry them with you.

* Inappropriate answering machine / voice mail greetings. You might think it's funny that your greeting is, "Yo! Leave a message and I'll get back at you whenever." You potential client might not think it's so clever. The solution? Change your greeting so that it sounds more conventional.

* Lack of availability for conferences. Being only available to discuss a case at 9 p.m. in the evening or 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays probably isn't going to win you many clients. The solution?  If you're crunched for time, aim for telephone conferences instead of in-person conferences. Try to find an hour or two once a week during normal business hours for telephone conferences.

* Typos and grammatical errors. Sloppy work product equates to sloppy analysis of the case in the clients' eyes. The solution? Turn on your spelling and grammar checkers in your word processing program. Or use a free online equivalent such as After the Deadline or Paper Rater. Be sure to change identifying details of the plaintiff and defendants if you use an online spelling and grammar checker.

Attorneys act in a professional manner. If you think and act professionally too, you won't display any of the annoying traits above.

...Katy Jones