15 Tools to Put You in the Winner’s Circle


15 Tools to Put You in the Winner’s Circle

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By Nancy Varallo, President, NCRA

arms up

Competition is the life force of a free market – and often the bane of our existence. Competition isn’t the problem, but sometimes our response to competition is frustration and annoyance. That’s not productive. NCRA’s five-year strategic plan, Vision 2018, calls for us to create resources for you, our members, to help you marshal your forces to succeed in the marketplace.

Below is a checklist of tools NCRA makes available to help you maintain your competitive edge. These 15 pointers will help focus your efforts. It’s not exhaustive, and some of these bullet points may be old hat to you. Still, each of the resources outlined below should be part of any well thought-out plan to compete successfully in your marketplace.

STAY INFORMED. Even if you don’t read each issue of the JCR cover to cover, please bookmark this page of our online magazine site: TheJCR.com/category/business. It’s a quick and easy way to stay current on the latest news from the business side of our profession.

REALTIME MATTERS. It is the standard of practice for professional reporters and the linchpin of any successful strategy for the future. If realtime has not yet arrived in your marketplace, it will. There is a wide array of realtime-readiness tools waiting for you at NCRA.org/TRAIN. Take advantage of them. For instance, NCRA’s Taking Realtime Awareness and Innovation Nationwide is available to help each member become realtime-profi cient.

SUBSCRIBE TO NCRA’S ETHICS FIRST PROGRAM. Understand your ethical responsibilities, commit to an ethics-first ethos, and advertise your commitment. (Materials and logos available on NCRA’s website.)

NCRA’S 2014 CONVENTION & EXPO is in San Francisco, the storied Golden Gate city. Be there! There is no better place than our Annual Convention & Expo to learn about the latest trends, meet reporters and agency owners from around the world, and network with people who matter. The vendor expo is fascinating! Our vendors dream up new software programs and products each year for the sole purpose of keeping each of us competitive.

NCRA’S COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST connect you with others in your specialty area. As a member of an NCRA CoI, you’re in Networking Nirvana!
THE NCRA SOURCEBOOK (and its online version) is a resource that connects you with all other NCRA members. It is widely disseminated to lawyers, paralegals, legal videographers, and consumers of CART and captioning services.

SCULPT YOUR OWN MARKETING AND ADVERTISING PLAN. Stand out from the crowd. NCRA provides avenues for you to get your name out among reporters and firm owners. There’s the JCR, our highly regarded trade publication, and online opportunities to advertise yourself. Ask about our ready-to-use press releases to announce your activities in your local news.

NCRA’S FIRM OWNERS EXECUTIVE CONFERENCE is a world-class forum to meet, greet, and learn. Panelists are a who’s who of industry leaders. They understand the issues that confront us, and the successful strategies they employ can be yours too. It’s at Firm Owners that you’ll receive survey data about marketplace trends. Such data gives you the inside track to predict future demand in your particular marketplace, so you can tailor your efforts effectively.

GET YOUR CREDENTIALS. NCRA certifications confer a clear, and measurable, advantage in the marketplace. On average, RPR holders earn 20 percent more annually than reporters who lack the RPR. (CRRs earn 17 percent more than RPRs.) What are you waiting for? Sign up now for NCRA’s next test day!

NCRA’S ONLINE WEBINAR are an interactive educational opportunity available to you from anywhere in the world. New offerings are added monthly. Check out the broad range of topics, all designed to help you stay competitive in the marketplace today.

BE TECH-SAVVY. A daunting task? No doubt. But NCRA can help. Our annual TechCon gathering (coming this month in Atlanta) can kick-start your tech awareness.
Meet vendors and see technical know-how on display. For newbies and nerds alike, Tech-Con has something for everyone. You won’t be disappointed. (Come to Atlanta at the last minute, if necessary, and register on-site.)

JOIN THE CONVERSATION. Don’t underestimate the value of connecting with your peers on social media. Every day they are discussing and debating the big issues: How to become a better reporter, how to compete in today’s marketplace, and how to create the value-added services that distinguish the successful reporters from the also-rans.

REACH OUT TO YOUR NCRA STAFF. Our headquarters staff is a great group of association professionals who understand court reporters and their needs. They are there to help you take your career to the next level. Call them, email them, and ask your questions.
They are your resources!

LEGISLATION AND ADVOCACY. NCRA’s legislative professionals make the case for steno court reporters to Congress. They make sure our lawmakers know that court reporters are the best solution in the verbatim transcription marketplace. With NCRA, you have a voice in Washington, D.C.!

GET INVOLVED. Be active in your state and national associations; volunteer. There’s no better way to keep yourself in the know!

When you serve on a committee or task force, your peers seek your counsel and appreciate your time and talents. It is an affirming experience, as any volunteer will tell you, which boosts your self-confidence. That’s great! When you project an image of confidence to your clients, you win.

Nancy C. Varallo, RDR, CRR, is NCRA’s current president. She can be reached at president@ncra.org.

© Copyright NCRA 2014. All rights reserved. This article originally appreared in NCRA’s monthly magazine, The Journal of Court Reporting.