As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has famously said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Have you ever stopped to think about what people might say about you when you are not in the room and, moreover, how you would like to be known? Think about it now and write the first five to ten things that come to mind. Then ask others who know you well — colleagues, friends, family — to write what comes to their minds when they think of you.
Do they line up? Any surprises? Chances are good that you will see some overlap in those descriptors. They define who you are. They are your personal brand.
I often get asked how lawyers can stand out in a crowded market. Many would agree there is so much value in learning business development, sales strategies and tactics that are not traditionally taught in law school. Perhaps even more important is having a clearly defined personal brand.
Knowing who you are, what you stand for, your professional strengths and what clients can expect when they hire you — as well as being able to communicate this clearly and effectively — will be key to your success both in terms of becoming better known internally (within your law firm) and externally (with your clients). I think I am stating the obvious here, but gone are the days when you can keep your head down and expect work to come in based on the quality work you have done before. It’s all about becoming better known for something in the marketplace.
Knowing who you are, what you stand for, your professional strengths and what clients can expect when they hire you — as well as being able to communicate this clearly and effectively — will be key to your success both in terms of becoming better known internally (within your law firm) and externally (with your clients).
In this context, we’re talking about your professional brand, which for some, may lend more formality — how you come across during a client engagement may be somewhat different than how you act at your neighborhood cookout. And that’s just fine. Professionalism is important, but don’t forget that this is a relationship business. Clients hire lawyers for a variety of reasons such as a specialized skillset, reliable matter management, as well as the backing of a strong firm brand. Of course, those are things which take dedicated and persistent work to be successful. However, it is the less tangible which can make the difference.
What Do Your Clients Think About You?
For example: Does the client like you? Is there chemistry? Do you have things in common? Do you show an interest in their business beyond the current matter? You get the idea. Your book of business will ultimately grow when you build a trustworthy relationship with a client simply because that often leads to more business with the same client and ultimately new business with other companies.
So where do you start? Over my next several blog posts, we are going to take this one step at a time. There are many components to personal branding, and so many tools to choose from inside the toolkit! I am going to break these topics into bite-size, easily digestible, simplified nuggets. This is not rocket science, but personal branding is important to think about, and it’s equally important to make a plan for how you are going to become better known for something, such as through internal marketing, social media, bylined articles, speeches, etc.
Once you understand all of these elements, you will be equipped to execute on your plan for the benefit of you, your professional standing and your career.
For now, I go back to the first question on this post and encourage you to examine it thoroughly: What do people say about you and how would you like to be known?