By Natasha Alladina • February 29, 2020•Writers in Residence, Careers
When I was on dating apps, my profile said I worked at “Yet Another Law Firm.” I thought it was cheeky at the time. But now that I’m a legal recruiter, I’ve realized that what I thought was a funny joke is unfortunately how so many lawyers very seriously brand themselves. How many of you have seen or have a LinkedIn profile that reads something like this? "Associate/Attorney at XYZ [firm/company/agency/nonprofit]." I.e., “yet another lawyer” at “yet another place.”
As lawyers, we spend long days and nights advocating for and advising others. We get entrenched in minute details to provide the best representation and advice we can. But when it comes to advocating for ourselves and researching how best to do so, many of us fall short.
The type of advocacy I’m referring to is more aptly described as self-promotion or personal branding. (Although learning how to stand up for ourselves and communicate our needs is also extremely important!)
So how do we get better at and more comfortable with self-promotion? By spending some quality time creating or reinvigorating our personal brands. It’s not the sexiest of activities but doing so will help us better convey our value and stay top of mind.
A few ideas to get your creative personal branding and self-advocacy juices following:
Going back to the example above, which of the following LinkedIn headlines grabs your attention?
- Associate at XYZ Firm
- Corporate Associate XYZ Firm
- Technology Transactions Associate at XYZ Firm | I help emerging and multinational companies navigate complex technology and IP issues
The third commands the most interest because it provides the most detail. It tells us where the individual works, what their practice focus is, what types of clients they assist, and how they assist those clients. Give your audience a reason to want to learn more about you from the get-go by clearly communicating what your practice entails and how you help your clients. (Hot tip – recruiters use LinkedIn ALL the time, so the more specific your headline, the more likely you are to appear in a search and learn about a potentially career-advancing opportunity.)
Most people hop on LinkedIn and scroll through others’ posts, liking a few here and there. In other words, most people consume content on LinkedIn. Few create it. Apparently, only 1% of LinkedIn’s 260 million monthly users share posts. (See https://kinsta.com/blog/linkedin-statistics/).
That means there’s a huge untapped opportunity to communicate your value on LinkedIn. Whether it’s adding an insightful comment to someone else’s post or posting about a presentation you attended or gave, there are myriad ways to build a personal brand on LinkedIn. The key is personalization. That’s the difference between simply sharing an article you found interesting and sharing the article with a quick explanation of why it was interesting to you. The latter is more compelling and helps build your personal brand.
Imagine you’re a Real Estate associate at a networking event and someone asks you what you do. Which of the following answers is your go-to?
- “I’m a Real Estate Associate at XYZ Firm.”
- “I’m a Real Estate Associate at XYZ Firm, and my practice spans the full commercial real estate cycle – from acquisition, development, retail leasing, and zoning to sales and structured financing. In a nutshell, I help my clients understand ever-changing market conditions, structure, and regulations so they can protect and maximize their real estate portfolios.”
For most, it’s Option 1. Perhaps because Option 2 can feel too “braggy” or “pretentious.” After all, most of us aren’t accustomed to detailing the value we bring and impact we have. But Option 2 tells your audience a story; it tells them what you do, where you do it, and why it matters.
People remember stories. The more detailed, the more memorable. So the next time you introduce yourself, don’t just say you’re a lawyer and work wherever you work. Get specific. Tell a story by telling your audience your unique what, where, and why. Doing so conveys your value in a way that simply saying your title and place of employment can’t.
What other ways can we work on communicating our value and building a personal brand? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend Debby Stone’s book The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career.