Should Professionals Be Marketing Yourself or Your Business?

If you are in a professional service industry, like law or accounting, it can sometimes be hard to separate yourself from your business. Your clients hire you, refer you, and trust you, not your company. So why do you spend so much time marketing your business instead of yourself? Continue reading

What Is Your Personal Brand?

Whether or not you’ve ever done online marketing, you still have a personal brand. Even brand new lawyers and law students have one, for that matter. But you can take control over that brand and use it to your benefit.

What Is a Brand?

Your personal brand is a sum of how you promote your skills and expertise as what the client needs to solve their problem. If you do nothing, you are essentially letting your reputation, good or otherwise, speak for itself. Even with no intentional online marketing, you’ll still have a presence on lawyer-review sites like Avvo.

Mastering Your Brand

But accidental branding is not enough to drive clients to your office. According to Jay Harrington of Harrington Communications,

Branding requires a concerted, strategic and active effort to describe, position and promote how one’s skills and expertise are relevant and uniquely able to solve a client’s problems.

You need to develop a clear brand that tells potential clients what you’re good at in a way that sticks in their head. That means telling a compelling story of competence, experience, and expertise.

Branding Yourself

An attorney is an attorney 24/7/365. Our referrals come from everyday encounters with neighbors and friends, as well as from online searches and referral partners. That means you need to own your brand. When someone asks what you do, you need to do more than list practice areas. You need to tell your listener a story that will help them remember you and what you do.

Branding Your Blog

Your blog is an online extension of your brand. It’s where you can demonstrate your expertise and deepen your story. But it’s important to keep that brand consistent. If you are a tough-as-nails litigator, you should focus on your successes in court. But if you are a facilitator and mediator, the same posts could undercut your carefully cultivated brand. It’s not just about subject matter – the way you talk about the topic will convey your brand too.

Branding isn’t about fighting your reputation. It’s about building on that reputation to target particular clients’ needs. By giving readers a clear story of who you are and what makes you stand out from the field, you will help them remember you and refer you. If you need help branding your blog, contact ghost-blogger Lisa Schmidt for a consultation.

Is Your Personal Blog Hurting You Professionally?

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf made headlines this week with his blog – but not in a good way. The federal judge told the Supreme Court to “stfu,” complete with link. The blog was personal, rather than business-related, but that didn’t keep the comment from affecting the Judge’s reputation.

The judge was blogging on the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, which he felt did harm to the integrity of the Court. He said:

“Five male Justices of the Supreme Court, who are all members of the Catholic faith and who each were appointed by a President who hailed from the Republican party, decided that a huge corporation, with thousands of employees and gargantuan revenues, was a ‘person’ entitled to assert a religious objection to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate because that corporation was ‘closely held’ by family members. To the average person, the result looks stupid and smells worse. . . .

“Next term is the time for the Supreme Court to go quiescent– this term and several past terms has proven that the court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the court has the power to avoid. As the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu.”

As lawyers (and judges), we are held to a code of conduct. That code doesn’t switch off with our office lights. We can’t take it off when we hang up our suit coats (or robes). It is with us every day, all day. And that counts double for our online actions.

Judge Kopf’s blog may have been personal, but it was clearly connected to his legal life and reputation. He blogged about political issues and attorneys who appeared before him. His stated desire was that:

“Federal trial judges be seen as individuals with all the strengths and weaknesses (baggage) that everyone else carries around.”

It should come as no surprise that his statements on that blog might attract attention and hurt his reputation, and possibly career as a federal judge.

The same is true if you or I maintain a personal blog outside the office or engage in social media. Our words can be traced back to our business, and they can hurt you. Just recently 2 Florida public defenders found themselves out of a job after they posted derogatory comments on Facebook about Palestinians using terms their office deemed hate speech.

Keep these cases in mind as you weave your way through social media this week. Your words affect your reputation, and (unless you are in Europe), the Internet never forgets. If you need help building a professional online image, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt for a consultation.