Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hey, Paralegals, What’s in Your RSS Reader?

Or Social Media 101: Follow Blogs for Professional Development

On October 17, 2009, I presented “Networking and Career Building with Social Media” at the Los Angeles Paralegal Association’s 33rd Annual October Conference. As part of my usual recommendations for using social media for professional development, I strongly urged paralegals to follow reputable professional blogs (and not just because I’m a blogger).

Why follow professional blogs?


  • Print magazines often have months old news; blogs have minutes old news from some of the best legal minds in the country.

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest legal, technology and specialty area news.

  • Join the conversations in the comment sections of blog posts to network, ask questions and share your own expertise.

  • Set up a free RSS reader to keep up with your favorite blogs.

I hear too many paralegals say they don’t utilize various types of social media because they don’t have time. I agree that checking in with a half dozen or so of your favorite blogs can be time-consuming if you’ve just saved them as favorites in your browser, and separately visit each site when you want updates.

Utilizing a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed reader, such as Google Reader, is an incredible time saver for a busy professional. An RSS reader provides posts and articles from your favorite blogs and news sites as they are updated, in an easy web feed format. You select, add or “subscribe” to the web pages that you want to follow, and your RSS reader does the rest for you.

There are many RSS readers to choose from, but here’s a list of “Top 10 Free Windows RSS Feed Readers/News Aggregators” from About.com for a quick overview.

Find a free RSS reader that you like and start small, with a half dozen or so legal, technology and practice blogs (including at least one in your specialty area). If you’re understandably overwhelmed by the thousands of legal professional blogs currently available, ask for recommendations or check out the blog directories at ABA Journal or USLaw.com.

What’s in my RSS reader? Here's a sampling of the blogs I follow:


Now, what’s in your RSS reader?


Addendum: I wrote this post this weekend, but in a not unusual fit of insecurity, asked my husband, "The King of Technology", if it was a silly topic, "'cause you know, everybody knows what a RSS Reader is, right?"

I mean, I kind of got the impression from some of the blank looks I received during that part of my social media presentation that maybe everyone in the room had not discovered the wonders of their own RSS feed, but then I usually get a lot of blank looks when I'm singing the praises of social media.

My husband said, "It's great, they'll love it," but you know, he's married to me and somewhere in the vows it might've said he has to tell me I'm a genius once a day.

But when I saw this post from Social Media Law Student, "Google: The Mightier Gets Mighty," in my RSS reader today - with the following quote - I knew that I was singing the right tune:


Despite the plethora of law-related software, blogs, and newsfeeds that exist online, too many students and professionals have no clue what an RSS feed is or about its immense potential.

And this is how much I treasure my Google Reader: I love it so much and it keeps me so entertained, and up-to-date, that I gave up my 25-year subscription to People magazine. There were periods in my life when I ate Ramen noodles to keep that particular over-priced and sort of embarrassing print vice coming.

Really. 'Sides, it was old news by the time I received it, anyway.

9 comments:

  1. I've seen RSS something or other and had absolutely no idea, not one iota, what it meant!! Yes, I'm one of those who have have several blogs bookmarked that I visit separately. But once I figure out this RSS reader stuff, it will be such a timesaver. Thanks so much!

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  2. At first I didn't know what are RSS too. It helped me a lot when I've learned how to use it though. Now it's more convenient to me to include your blog into my RSS reader for some daily stuff.

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  3. I'm not sure what this says about me, especially since my generation is supposedly so tech savvy, but I have never used an RSS feeder. In fact, I had only a vague idea what is was before reading this post. After reading this, I'm ready to set one up! Thanks, Lynne!

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  4. Deborah, I hope you love using an RSS feed to keep up with the latest news.

    Melissa, when a young whippersnapper such as yourself says "Thanks for the heads up!" then I know the post is worthwhile :)

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  5. You have created a monster Lynne! After reading this article, I've set up an RSS feed, started a blog (that is still too young to share), and upgraded my Twitter usage to now include TweetDeck and Tweetie on my iPod. I am linking, LinkedIn, and link sharing like a mad woman! It's madness, I tell you! :)

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  6. Jo, I'm excited to hear I've created a monster, especially on Halloween! :D

    But I'm glad that you're discovering the power of social media to network and learn, and looking forward to reading your blog.

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  7. http://www.yeahreader.com - is also good rss feeds reader

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  8. I just recently learned about RSS feeds from a fellow paralegal I met at the NFPA convention in Philly. Thank you for providing links to blogs you recommend. Next question for me is: how do I get this posted to my paralegal club's website (www.mdcslcs.com) so that it updates on the latest and greatest? I heard it had something to do with a widget. What are they and how do they work?? THANK YOU.

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  9. Jessica, I recorded a social media presentation for NFPA's online 2010 Tech Institute, and encouraged paralegals to use an RSS feed reader -- and also did a column about it for the April/June 2010 issue of Paralegal Today. I really believe a feed reader is the way to go for news and blog content.

    As for widgets, the only resource I'm aware of is http://www.widgetbox.com/ That's where I got the widget for The Paralegal Voice podcast at Legal Talk Network that you see in the left sidebar of this blog. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of widget you'd like to add to your association's site - but you or the site's webmaster can likely easily upload a widget to the site that streams paralegal news, and maybe even paralegal blog posts. I had a couple of other widgets, but they seemed to slow the uploading of the blog, so I deleted them.

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