At this point, you most likely understand exactly what people mean when they talk about branding: Your brand is what makes you unique as a professional, tells people where your abilities lie, and lets them know what to expect from working with you.
Your brand is your professional reputation. But why, exactly, does any lawyer who is not, say, starting an online business, need a personal brand?
You Already Have a Personal Brand
The brand may be a weak and/or inaccurate one, but it’s there. It’s important that you are in control of your own reputation, rather than leaving it up to chance or allowing the wrong impression to get out there. You want your personal brand to align with who you really are as a legal professional.
Yes, You Need to Market Yourself
You need to make yourself as marketable and relatable as possible, as well as be clear about exactly who you are. In today’s world, an online presence is a necessity and can have quite an impact on your reputation and career. To market yourself properly, you need to reflect on who you are, where your strengths lie, and what impressions you are leaving clients and those who work with you. Think about not only what makes you unique but what you stand for. Avoid any temptation to imitate others—authenticity is the key.
Why Can’t My Work Speak for Itself?
Now, of course, the basis for your personal brand must be your great education, hard work, strong connections, and goals met. But how will people know to expect these things from you—and how will you even achieve some of these things, like strong connections—if you don’t ensure you get your reputation out there? So yes, your work will speak for itself, but people need to know who you are and learn to associate you with the skills you want to promote.
Your firm has its own brand, but you are an individual separate from the firm. You can’t rely on your firm to do all the work of selling you as a lawyer and must do the bulk of that work yourself. Not to mention, the day will likely come when you leave your firm and need to lean on your own reputation even more. So don’t be hesitant to build yourself up.
Make a list of what your skills are and what you want to be known for. This is the beginning of building your personal brand.