When people say “personal branding” to lawyers, it can be common to feel yourself putting your fingers in your ears, shutting your eyes and going “la-la-la” back again. There’s no denying that it can feel like marketing bunkum (at best) and utterly terrifying (at worst). But the reality is – particularly now the world is so much more virtual and online – people are making decisions based on what they find when they Google. Rightly or wrongly we are firmly in an era of someone’s personal brand making, or breaking, their professional reputation.
So, let us first debunk the topic and then show why it’s so important for lawyers to get with the personal branding programme.
What is personal branding for lawyers?
Personal branding is, in essence, content marketing. That means using content – be that written, videoed, visual or anything else you can think of – to showcase your identity, reputation, skills and uniqueness. Your personal brand is about selling yourself to your target audience. Who are you? What are your values? What sets you apart from the competition? How do you reflect what your target audiences need and want? Why should clients choose you as their lawyer? These questions are all a part of creating your personal brand. And getting them right is all part of what generates new and repeat instructions.
Why does personal branding matter?
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says that “your personal brand is your reputation. And your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career.”
A survey in 2018 by CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers research job applicants online and base their decision on whether to progress a candidate on what they find.
Most importantly, however, when we turn the spotlight on legal services, we can see some interesting trends coming forward that demonstrate how online personal branding for lawyers is more important than ever.
The 2022 Legal Services Consumer Tracker (how consumers are choosing legal services) showed that 43% of consumers are shopping around for their legal expertise, as opposed to just 13% in 2021. 82% of these said that reputation was the most important factor in deciding. Searching on the internet was the fourth most popular way of selecting a legal services provider (after having used them before, recommendation from a friend/family member or referral by another organisation).
The reality is we are living in a digital age. Having a polished up-to-date online presence is no longer just a nice-to-have… It’s an essential tool in furthering your career and in securing client work.
As a basic minimum, your LinkedIn profile is your face to the business world. It’s the first stop any clients will look at when they want to find out information about you. Enhance your digital appearance by sharing relevant news items, commenting on industry trends and establishing yourself as a thought leader by writing blog posts.
How do I create a legal brand?
So how do you go about creating a personal brand in the legal sector?
Millennial workplace expert Adam Smiley Poswolsky advises finding your focus: “Carve a niche, and then carve a niche within your niche. The best personal brands are very specific.”
Here are our top suggestions for creating your personal brand as a lawyer:
Start at the beginning.
Think about what legal services you are going to offer and highlight your expertise in that niche area. Your target audience will trust you more if you have an established brand as a true authority in your field, rather than pretending you’re brilliant at lots of things. What are you the “go-to” lawyer for?
Integrate your personal brand and your business strategy.
The two should go hand-in-hand. Think about where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Now think about how your personal brand content can support this. Outlay the details, your goals and the tools you’re going to use to get there. A content calendar will do wonders to map out your journey to success and remove any uncertainty, allowing you to focus on providing the best service to your clients.
Know your audience.
You need to visualise the people you’re talking to if you want to be really successful at this. Think ‘what do they need to hear’ not ‘what do I want to say’. Be picky. It is important to be authentic and genuine. Knowing that you won’t be a good fit for everyone is better than attempting to cater to all clients, think about your focus.
When you are an industry expert, the content you produce on your website and social media channels will speak for itself. Consistency is key, both online and offline.
Your personal brand and your life should be one and the same – a reflection of you. Show the different facets of your personality and the human behind the lawyer. A personal brand allows you to control the narrative of your online presence.
Consider the where as well as the what.
Potential clients should be able to see your key message across all your channels. This means your blogs, emails, profile, LinkedIn and any other social media. The traditional ad space is saturated but you still need some way of driving people to longer-form content (blogs, checklists, guides and so on). Utilise free social media channels (yes, we’re back to pushing LinkedIn) by writing thought leadership posts, creating content and engaging with potential clients this way.
Listen and engage as much as you broadcast.
Personal brand building isn’t all about broadcasting. Showing that you’ve listened and engaged with what other people have said can be just as important. So, balance it out. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth and should use them proportionately.
It’s true that a reputation precedes you, make sure it’s a good one. Word of mouth is a powerful PR tool, you want your personal brand to be the story people tell about you. Developing a solid brand helps you stand out from the crowd and leads to opportunities that would otherwise have been missed. And missed opportunities are missed income.
How can Carbon Law Partners help self-employed lawyers create a personal brand?
Carbon Law Partners provides you with everything you need to flourish, including training on creating a personal brand. You will receive administrative, financial, operational, logistical and marketing support when you join allowing you to concentrate on building your business.
Find out more about joining Carbon by getting in touch today.