Service providers are in the business of trust. Their clients often have a lot on the line and the decision-making process for hiring a service provider, such as a lawyer, can often make or break the success of the case, business and/or the in-house counsel’s credibility. Reducing risk is the key.
As a lawyer/accountant/consultant personal branding is paramount to distinguish your service from someone else’s: How can you demonstrate trust via your online presence and nurture your personal brand?
- Be who you say you are. Don’t act differently online and in person. Maintain a consistent persona and demeanor.
- Be exceptional. No one can be absolutely great at everything they do. Decide early on in your career what path you are going to take and be the best you can be at it. You can add more specialties but the key is to be incredible at what you do.
- Share your knowledge. Share articles, presentations, videos, etc. with your connections – both your original work and third party content. If you enjoy an article chances are many of your contacts will also find the content useful. You can brand yourself as an expert and being the person who is ‘in the know’ simply by what you share.
- Help others achieve their goals. Connect like-minded individuals – acquaintances, colleagues, members of groups – and determine how you can help them. You may find an opportunity to connect an individual with someone in your network. You can share or like their content.
- Keep an updated profile. If you’ve decided to change your practice by heading in a new direction, make it known. By helping others and sharing your knowledge, your network, for the most part, will have a vested interest in seeing you succeed.
- Farm your circle of influence (COI). Your COI is very important to help you establish yourself. Your network can validate who you are and help prospects make a decision in your favour. “If you know Mary Smith and she vouches for you, you must be the right person to help me.”The following may be examples of characteristics that show that someone is a good part of you COI. Help your influencers and they will help you 10-fold.Figure out who your supporters are by answering these questions:
- Who likes your content updates?
- Who shares them?
- Who reaches out to see how your business is going?
- Who refers you work?
- Who sends you articles that may interest you?
- Be a great follower. Sometimes there is more to be gained by being the #2 person supporting the leader. This is often true when it comes to LinkedIn groups.Starting and running a successful LinkedIn group requires a lot of time, effort and dedication. Most people fail due to a lack of time, having a network that is too small to sustain the effort, or focusing on the wrong topic.Instead, join groups and help the group leader make that group as successful as possible through your unique perspective. Share information. Answer questions (not giving advice, of course). You will become a top influencer in the group and will be seen as an expert.
- Be authentically you. At the end of the day, be yourself. This is different from point 1, being in person who you say you are online. There is no point in trying to be someone you are not. Be comfortable in your own skin, put your best foot forward and share your particular talents.If you are outgoing: engaging in LinkedIn groups and having a Twitter account is probably in your cards. When you’re attending an event or conference, post an update to mention that you will be attending and invite others to come talk to you. You’ll most likely collect a lot of business cards during meetings, so put them to use by adding the individuals to LinkedIn.If you are shy: you can still find activities that you really love – like reviewing legal articles, writing blog posts – and become a leader/influencer by playing to your strengths.
Your brand needs to be transparent and authentic, which requires a high level of emotional intelligence. Determine who you are and what your niche is and then work through the tactics you’ll need to use to build this personal brand.
Bonus…8 Questions to Develop on Your Personal Brand
- What is your personal brand? (How do you want to be seen?)
- What do you want to achieve?
- Who do you want following you? (Target Audience)
- Target areas? (Geography)
- Who are the influencers in this area? (Individuals/Decision Makers/Journalists)
- Who is your biggest competition?
- What social media and marketing tools do your clients, prospects, industry influencers and competitors use?
- What is your content plan?