Tips for Building a Strong Personal Brand
According to the American Bar Association’s Profile of the Legal Profession, there are currently about 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. Not only are there many lawyers out there, but there are many really good lawyers out there. All the more reason to gain a competitive advantage by building a personal brand to set yourself apart and stand out in a positive way. Everyone has a brand, and lawyers should focus on shaping and promoting their brands. A brand is all about who you are and how others perceive you. There are numerous ways to build a brand depending on one’s strengths and interests. Here are ways to get started.
There is no doubt that getting one’s name in earned media as an expert will enhance a lawyer’s brand. Publishing articles, getting quoted, and being interviewed as an expert in various media outlets are all excellent ways to be seen as a thought leader. Speaking for organizations or hosting events are additional ways to gain visibility and attract clients.
Develop a niche
Developing a niche and becoming known in a specific area is an ideal way to build a brand. Targeting all marketing efforts in that one area can help a lawyer to become known as the go-to expert. This is a particularly effective way to gain client referrals.
Be a connector and help others
Master networkers are connectors of people and are always helping others. Networkers quickly become well known for their ability to link professionals and open doors. It is rewarding to help others, and people appreciate it. Networking is an outstanding way to build a strong brand and attract clients.
Act with integrity and be positive
Given that one’s reputation and actions impact how others think – good or bad – always act with integrity, be genuine, do what you say you are going to do, show up on time, and get back to people. Be a class act, develop a positive attitude and show appreciation when someone does a good deed. This will build trust and confidence with others. All of these actions will have a beneficial impact on how others perceive you.
Provide excellent client service
In addition to doing excellent legal work – that’s expected – go above and beyond, and become known for providing outstanding client service. Be responsive, get to know clients personally, and work to understand their businesses. Forecast future issues and needs, provide business advice, and connect clients to other professionals who can help them. A reputation for both excellent legal work and outstanding client service will lead to more referrals.
Get involved and give back
Becoming active in an organization, whether it is a non-profit, professional or industry association, is a great way to build a strong brand and develop a whole new network of contacts.
Look for leadership and board opportunities within the organization, volunteer, mentor others or find a mentor, and join event host committees. Research the organization to make sure it’s a fit as far as logistics, time commitment and what it expects of its partners and volunteers. Be sure to align with and be passionate about its mission. When you give back, you get back – but there should be no expectations.
Brand building is a continuous process and lawyers should make a conscious effort to focus on it. Be active and intentional, and the effort will pay off with career enhancement, new client work, and other opportunities. Don’t forget to leverage the power of social media to spread the word – another excellent and easy way to stay visible.
Ellen M. Keiley is president of EMK Consulting Group, which offers public relations, business development coaching and training for law firms and other professional services firms. She can be contacted at [email protected].