“I want to bring in more clients and raise my profile at the firm.”
“I’d like to move to different role at my firm.”
“I’m looking for opportunities outside the firm.”
“After multiple interviews, I got passed over for an in-house position.”
“I think I need a career change.”
The above are conversations I’ve had with lawyers during networking events over the past couple of weeks. One is a solo, the other is an ivy-league, partner-track attorney, and the others are four and five-year associates. One was fresh out of law school.
Thing is, this is not an unusual conversation. I hear it all the time.
I congratulated them on being at the mixer then asked about their online footprint. Without exception, the answer was, I have a LinkedIn profile. That’s it. Well, that’s not going to cut it today if you want to advance at your firm or move on to other firms, or alternative careers.
Here are activities you can start doing right now to build your brand and raise your, and your firm’s profile.
Write – You don’t have to be the next Hemingway to write. Write about what you’re interested in doing. A way to build up expertise is to read. A lot. Then write about what you read. Do a book review. Summarize a chapter.
Where to write? Ideally, you could create a blog but for some that may seem overwhelming. Start by publishing on LInkedIn Pulse.
What to write? Write about topics in the industry you’re interested in pursuing. For instance, if you’re a lawyer and you want to get into legal marketing and you’re taking some Udemy courses on social media or Lynda courses on search engine optimization, approach every class as an opportunity to write about what you learn so you can educate others via a post on LinkedIn Pulse or Medium.
Same with lawyers trying to move into a new, more lucrative or interesting practice area at the firm. Don’t just go about learning everything about a new industry or people you want to serve, write about what you learn. As the saying goes, the best way to learn is to teach.
Reference thought leaders in your writing. Write about the problems people in your field face and identify some of the ways to solve those problems.
Partners will notice. Clients will discover you, including in-house counsel.
Be social – It’s not enough to write, you must engage. And you do that on social media. Having an updated LinkedIn profile is a basic first step, but you need more. Much more.
Think about cultivating a presence on Twitter around the areas of interest you want to pursue professionally. Do that by curating and sharing topical articles. Use Feedly to aggregate the feeds of the websites and blogs that publish relevant pieces. You can also create Twitter lists of people whose contributions you value. Show your appreciation for the useful, relevant information they tweet–and get on their radar–by liking and retweeting.
Build relationships – Content + Social = You just laid the groundwork for building meaningful relationships. You’ve established yourself as a knowledgeable, trusted resource, on your way to becoming a thought leader. See: Thought Leadership for Lawyers: 10 Tips on How to Build Your Personal Brand. These relationship will help you to get recognized in your new fields of interest as they reference you and the materials you publish.
Gig economy – For better or worse, we live in a gig economy. Work some small gigs on the side as you build up expertise in a new field or industry. You can do this by volunteering at organizations.
For instance, if you’re interested in a new practice area at your firm and you’ve started engaging and writing about related industries or particular problems people face, volunteer at an industry association, legal organization, or outreach initiatives at local courts, using your writing to demonstrate your interest and burgeoning expertise.
In-person events – Now you can be more strategic about the events you attend and you’ll have published pieces, social proof, and some experience to leverage in conversations about your professional goals.
UPDATE: As I shared this post minutes after publishing, I came across Stefanie Marrone’s (@StefanieMarrone) LinkedIn post: 10 Ways to Build a Strong Professional Brand – Starting Today. It’s a great read. Check it out.
Remember, in today’s world it’s all about dual branding: raising the profile of your firm while concurrently working on building your own brand which you and the firm can leverage for new opportunities. Win-win.