As lawyers, we do not receive any formal training on how to develop and maintain a personal brand. With a few exceptions, nothing we learned in law school, during articling, or even beyond properly prepares us for this vital aspect of our careers. Yet, as the legal landscape changes, and there are increased talks of legal market disruption, a killer personal brand is key to both standing out and bullet-proofing your career.
Personal branding forms part of your personal marketing strategy and is separate from the overall marketing strategy for a firm (unless you are a sole practitioner). Building your personal brand can seem overwhelming. Indeed, it is an ongoing task that must be carried out throughout your career. However, there are easy ways to get started and make this task much less onerous.
1) Think About Your Personal Value Proposition
The starting point of your personal brand should be your personal value proposition.
This will likely be the element of your personal brand that will take the longest to craft, but it is well worth taking the time to do so, as this will be the foundation for everything else. Understanding your value proposition is helpful in many ways:
- It gives you a clear vision and understanding of what makes you unique as a practitioner; and
- It allows you to determine what it is about yourself that you want to communicate to prospective and current clients.
Once you determine what it is that you want to communicate about yourself, it will be easier to determine the most effective way of transmitting this message and building your brand to help you differentiate yourself from your competition.
2) Update Your Firm Bio (including your photo!)
In this day and age, the first thing someone is going to do when they want to learn more about you is Google you. Your law firm bio is likely going to be the first item that appears in a search, and it is your best opportunity to make a strong first impression.
Your bio is an integral element of your personal brand, a great way to convey your value proposition, and should be the starting point for everything else about you that appears in writing. Before you get started on revamping or updating your bio, there are several “bio best practices” to consider.
3) Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Other than your law firm bio, your LinkedIn profile will also be a high-ranking search result when people look for you online. As such, it is important to make sure it is up to date and optimally promoting your personal brand.
If your profile has only very basic information about you, is missing a professional and up-to-date photograph, or hasn’t been updated in a long time, it will reflect negatively on your personal brand. The same is true if you do not have a LinkedIn profile at all.
Here are some simple things to keep in mind when you review your current profile or create a new one:
- Make sure your LinkedIn photo matches your law firm bio photo;
- Claim your LinkedIn vanity URL;
- Update your LinkedIn heading and summary (thinking about and finding ways to highlight your value proposition will be immensely helpful here);
- Customize your work experience section to reflect what you want to be known for;
- Keep things current (highlight speaking engagements, papers you have written, volunteer positions, boards and committees you join, etc.).
4) Be Active Online
Other than having a strong, updated firm bio and LinkedIn profile, you should also be active across other social media and digital platforms. This is the best way to establish yourself as a thought leader and to reinforce your personal brand.
A great starting point for crafting your online presence is to have a regularly updated blog. A well-maintained blog is an excellent place to highlight your in-depth knowledge and to establish yourself as an authoritative source of commentary.
Once you start blogging, social media (including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) provides a great platform through which to promote your blogs, yourself, and highlight your brand. Use your social media actively: share your blog posts to your channels every time you publish.
Overall, aim to post something at least three times per week – this does not have to be original content (for instance, a paper that you’ve written, or a blog post), it can be content that you curate from other reputable and relevant sources.
5) Harness the Power of PR
Engaging with a PR specialist and actively using PR services can significantly help build and solidify your personal brand.
A PR specialist can help you identify and facilitate speaking engagements and educational opportunities that align with your value proposition and personal brand. They will help you develop a positive working relationship and reputation among media outlets (including radio, T.V. and newspaper) to position you as the “go to” commentator and subject matter expert in your practice area.
At the end of the day, it is not enough to be a great lawyer if no one knows that you are. Taking the time to strategize about your personal brand and putting in the effort to build and maintain it will reward you many times over.
At Umbrella Legal Marketing, we help lawyers define and develop their personal brand. We work with lawyers at all stages of their career development. This is one of many comprehensive services that we offer our clients. If you would like to learn more about how we could assist you with your digital presence, please contact us online or at 416-356-4672.