It used to be that branding was something only those in a marketing department needed to be concerned with, but the times have changed.
Today, it’s imperative that every lawyer has his or her own personal brand, both when it comes to finding employment and attracting clients.
But how do you establish a personal brand without committing a faux pas? We’ve got you covered with some DOs and DON’Ts of branding especially for lawyers.
- DO Define Your Personal Brand: How do you want to be perceived by your clients and peers? What sets you apart from others in your practice area? Figure out what your “thing” is, whether it’s past experience in a certain industry, prowess in a specific skill, or something else entirely. Everyone has a unique style or skill that they can make themselves known for.
- DON’T Assume Your Firm’s Brand Is Your Brand: Even if you work for a firm with a specific reputation, that doesn’t mean your personal brand is well regarded outside the confines of your workplace. That requires effort on your part.
- DO Have an Online Presence: According to a Google consumer survey, 96% of people seek legal advice via a search engine. Plus, one of the first things a recruiter will do when considering you for a position is look you up online.
- DON’T Eschew the Internet: Think you’ll succeed the good old-fashioned way and find all your clients “IRL?” The odds aren’t in your favor. If you don’t define your own brand online, others will—via review sites like Yelp and Avvo, and you might not like the results. It’s important that you control your own narrative as much as you can.
- DO Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader: Why should anyone want you to represent them? Prove you’re an expert in your area by keeping a blog and/or getting published in legal journals or magazines.
- DON’T Fill Your Blog with Sales and Promotional Posts: While you might find value in including client testimonials on your website, your blog is a place to prove your expertise—not to brag or advertise. A little of that kind of thing goes a long way.
- DO Keep Your Social Media Appropriate: Does your Facebook still have photos of you at frat parties? Does your Twitter have musings from back in your high school days? Clean up all your accounts. You never know who might stumble upon them.
- DON’T Make All Your Social Media Public: Sure, your LinkedIn profile will be viewable by anybody. But what about Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook? Even if you think you keep all your accounts clean, it’s worth keeping private anything that you consider to be personal
- DO Consider Ethical Requirements: Lots of people embellish their experience or skillset, but lawyers can’t (thanks, ABA Rule No. 7.1!) Whether it’s writing your bio for your website or updating your LinkedIn profile, keep everything factual and accurate.
- DON’T Ignore Outdated Content: Did a friend endorse you for something on LinkedIn you have no experience in? Did you have some slightly exaggerated skills on your resume? Periodically review all your materials (online and off) to make sure everything included is true.
- DO Get Help If You Need It: Branding will come very easily for some of us but will prove to be a major challenge for others. Regardless, it is extremely important. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available if you need help. Start with a Google search.
- DON’T Feel Overwhelmed and Give Up: Defining your brand, monitoring and engaging on social media, and building and updating a website can take a lot of time, and time isn’t exactly an abundant resource for lawyers. While it can feel overwhelming when you’re just getting started, remember that branding is worth it—and you don’t have to do it all yourself.