All About YOU – Developing your Personal Brand

Build your Personal BrandI can almost guarantee that if you work for a firm of any size, then the logo, colours and branding utilised by it cost a fortune.  I don’t mean a little bit – I mean a lot.  Think of what you’d pay for someone to develop you a special shade of beige, and then multiple it by a number higher than what you think you should, and you’re probably still not even close.

Firms invest in their brand heavily.  That’s why they use their logo everywhere; they sponsor events; they speak at seminars with their brand behind them, offices are painted this colour, business cards, websites, emails and the list goes on.

And that’s all great.  But what about you?  Is your job only to reinforce the brand of the firm you work for, or is it to develop your brand now?

My view is that you should start to develop your personal presence now.  A strong personal brand will help your firm if you do it right, and provided you are cognizant of the firm’s likely concerns about your personal efforts, there shouldn’t be much in the way of barriers to get started.

What’s a Personal Brand anyway?  A Little logo with my picture on it?

Um – no.

If you’d like to do a little logo for yourself, then go right ahead.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m talking about is the perception of YOU.  Law is a fairly small industry, particuarly when it comes to you local presence.  People will get to know your fairly quickly, and they will start forming opinions about you straight away (often before they even meet you).

So wouldn’t it benefit you to start giving some thought to what you want that presence to be, and how you want others to perceive you?

Isn’t that Bad for my Firm?

Not necessarily.  You can have a personal brand which runs along side your firm’s presence, whether it be online or off.

Of course, you need to be sensitive that the things you get involved in when you start developing your brand.  It doesn’t matter if you’re employed at the moment or not, because you can start developing your brand with your future employer/s in mind anyway.

First – be wary of controversial things.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t have opinions or stand up for yourself – I am saying that choosing to have opinions and express them correctly will serve you far better than being the permanent owner of a massive online rant which you can’t get deleted.

Second – be aware that there’s a high likelihood that people in your future or current firm will read/see/hear about whatever it is you’re doing.

Third – your personal brand needs to be authentic to you, or nobody will respond to it.  If that’s going to cause a rift with your firm (by which I mean that your personal brand and style is really not aligned with your firm’s culture), then you might want to consider a different strategy for the moment.

How to Build Personal Brand for Lawyers

This actually isn’t that complex – personal brand is just about how people perceive you.  These days, much of the focus on personal brand is going to be online, but it doesn’t have to be that exclusively.

Here are some ways to get started:

  • Use public speaking opportunities.  Getting in front of an audience prepared to listen to you is a huge honour.  Don’t disrespect it by delivering a piece of rubbish.  Beyond that, however, your speaking opportunities are a chance to show some personality, tell people a little about yourself (without being obnoxious) and to build up a perception of your personality and idiosyncrasies;
  • Your online presence.  Your interactions online with people and communities all start to build up a perception of you.  Are you helpful, smart, aggressive, opinion-less or polite?  Every comment, response, and “like” is a chance to show people what you’re made of and what you’re about.  Viewing it from that context will help.
  • More generally – step up to opportunities.  But (and it’s a significant but) – if you’re going to take an opportunity, make sure that you nail it.  I’m not saying you need to shy away, but make sure if you take a chance that you arm yourself with the information, skills and tools you will need to do whatever it is to the highest standard you are capable of.
  • Have another outlet.  For me, that outlet is this site.  This is where I share some more details about the things I read and think about, and try my best to interact with people in a way that is authentic to my personality.

Got any other ideas on how you can start building your personal brand?  Let me know!

Happy Lawyering!

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