Warren Buffet once said: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
The concept of the personal brand has exploded in recent years – there are countless webinars, articles and books dedicated to the subject. The Law Society explains: “You may think you don't need to worry about your personal brand, as you already have a brand as part of the solicitors' profession: experts in our field, honest and honourable, client-focussed and so on, just as the public and businesses expect. Your firm may also have a brand identity which you're part of. However, your personal brand is different. It's unique to you. It's how others perceive you, and that perception will affect everything from the quality of your relationships with colleagues, to the clients you win and keep.”
It should be clear by now that the way you express yourself in a professional industry such as the law is important and can affect your future. Your personal brand should be something you consider throughout your career, even from a paralegal or trainee status. However, if you're a solicitor and you haven't considered this, it's not over yet, and you can certainly still create a personal brand. In order to do so, you need to identify what you want to portray and what you want to gain from having a brand.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is not as obvious as you might think. It's all about identifying your skills and strengths and then effectively conveying them, so people in your network understand what you do and the ethics that represent you. However, this needs to be coupled with your personality as this is what will really engage your audience.
How do you develop one?
This involves self-awareness and reflection - you may want to start by defining what your goals are. If, for instance, you have a dream to "become the UK's leading X Lawyer", you must find out who is already successful in that area, not only because they're your competition but also because they can be a good source of knowledge. Connect and engage with them while acknowledging that they are your competition. Using other lawyers invested in your sector is a good way of building a network and identifying your target market. Forbes confirm: “The narrower and more focused your brand is, the easier it is for people to remember who you are. And when it comes time to hire a speaker or a new employee, your narrowed-down brand will be what they remember.”
Think about what you’re already well-known for in your profession and embellish on that. Consider your professional experiences to date and what drives your ambition, as the answers to these reflective questions will help you establish a grounding from which you can build your personal brand. Writing and promoting interesting and engaging content about your specific area of interest is an excellent starting point.
Your brand should be authentic and represent the best version of the real you!
LinkedIn is a perfect place to start – make sure that your profile is up-to-date and reflects your current skills and achievements. Then, once you've established a good base level of branding and decided what it is you represent, you can start creating and posting content that is relevant to your personal brand.
This could include exciting developments or thought leadership in your area of law. Try and think outside of the box – people buy from people. By posting content that makes you stand out as someone who knows what they're talking about, you will attract the right people to join your network. However, be careful that you don't just put out uninspiring, vanilla content that doesn't engage people… remember, if you try to please everyone, you could end up not attracting anyone – stick to your target market, stick to your brand and don't give up.
Ask colleagues to give feedback – don't go at it alone. Other solicitors will be able to provide you with an objective opinion on how your personal branding comes across and whether, in a client's shoes, they would use you. Your friends and family could also be a good source of feedback.
What do you get out of having a personal brand?
Personal branding is about creating opportunity for yourself to progress your career, develop your business and network with other like-minded individuals. If you want to work for some of the best law firms out there, then you need a personal brand that properly shows what you can offer, your specialisms and your personality. This, in turn, will attract clients and other lawyers to engage with you, increasing your network, visibility and likelihood of being a success!
That is the power of the personal brand.
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