Personal Branding for Lawyers
What's in a Personal Brand?
Everything. A “brand” is the sum total of what people think when they encounter anything at all that reminds them of you.
You have a personal brand. That's right, even you. A personal brand, quite simply, is your unique promise of value. It is what people expect to occur when working or interacting with you. Everyone has a personal brand, regardless of whether they intentionally build and shape – or simply leave it to chance.
A “thought” occurs every time someone sees or hears your name. This “thought” can be positive, negative or indifferent. It is based on the power of your reputation, or lack thereof. The “thought” that occurs when someone encounters anything that reminds them of you is the core essence of your personal brand.
Effective branding occurs when you leverage your reputation to (i) attract client engagements, new business opportunities and plum assignments; (ii) reinforce positive impressions; (iii) invalidate negative information or (iv) create positive impressions in new environments.
As everyone has a brand, a key question is whether your brand is strong enough to make a meaningful contribution to your career.
Building a strong, influential brand that can positively impact the trajectory of your legal career requires a focus and commitment to action in 5 key areas.
1. Excellent Lawyering. Successful, profitable lawyers are experts in their practice areas. You must (a) know what you know (b) anticipate what your clients need to know and (c) know how to quickly find the right answer for what you don't already know. In a nutshell, becoming a well respected, profitable lawyer requires you to know a lot.
2. Resourcefulness. Successful, profitable lawyers are resourceful people who provide value at every opportunity. Rainmakers are experts at becoming trusted legal advisors who are resourceful enough to help clients get deals done and accomplish bottom-line business objectives.
3. Expert Status. Thanks to the power of social media and the Internet, lawyers can create value and position themselves as industry leaders by consistently sharing valuable information using resources like social networks, webinars, podcasts, electronic communications, etc. These tools are available to lawyers in large firms, mid-size firms, small firms and solo practices. Developing a habit of consistently sharing valuable information will lead to plum assignments, referrals and new business opportunities.
4. Powerful Relationships. Relationships are the key to success. Referrals, repeat business and new opportunities most often result from trusted relationships. Effective branding makes it possible to develop relationships outside of personal interaction. People will begin to develop a positive impression of you and your promise of value (aka, your brand) when you consistently share valuable information through tools like articles, blog posts, social networks, electronic communications, webinars and podcasts. This positive impression can serve as the beginning of a personal relationship or simply a connection with your content. Such connections (aka, relationships) can lead to many of the professional benefits that result from personal relationships (e.g., referrals, endorsements, etc.).
5. Integrated Mantra. A mantra consists of words and energy that express your core values. Successful lawyers are governed by values that form the basis of a mantra that is integrated into all they do. Influential brands embody the core values (aka, the mantras) of their owners and reflect this value and energy in every interaction, regardless of whether such interaction is written, spoken, online or offline.
It's never to early for lawyers to focus on building a powerful and influential personal brand. In fact, adhering to a clearly defined process for building an influential brand is an excellent way to systematize the process of becoming a skilled lawyer with “rainmaking” potential.
Let your answers to the following questions guide your journey to building and delivering upon the promise of your personal brand.
- What do you want more senior attorneys to think when they see your name on a list of attorneys who are available for assignments? What exactly must you do to make this happen? Now that you know, get into upward action.
2) What do you want more junior attorneys to think when someone mentions your name? What exactly must you do to make this happen? Now that you know, get into upward action.
3) What do you want prospective clients to think when they encounter your name or the name of your firm? What needs to happen to make this a reality? Now that you know, get into upward action.
4) What types of things/information do current clients need to feel good about their decision to engage you? Now that you know, make them happen.
5) What types of things/information would make a prospective client, current client, colleague or the general public “doubt” negative information about you, your firm and/or your work? Now that you know, consistently get this information into the marketplace in a way that adds value.
6) What groups of people do you want to know about you and your legal expertise? What do you want them to think when they are reminded of your practice area(s) or industry? Where do these people spend time (online and offline)? What kind of information do they value? Exactly what needs to happen in order for you to become well known and respected as an industry expert and trust advisor in your practice areas? Now that you know, get into upward action.
The process of (i) intentionally creating a promise of value with respect to your work as a lawyer and (ii) delivering upon the promise will help you become known as a knowledgeable, resourceful and respected lawyer who adds value and delivers results. This forms a personal brand that will serve you well on whatever path your legal career and law degree takes you.
If you are an attorney who is ready to leverage the power of the Internet and social media to build an influential and profitable personal brand, we can help. Call our office at (800) 753-6576 and inquire about our Personal Branding for Lawyers programs for more information.