Hey Charlotte, I understand why attorneys in private practice need a strong personal brand, but I’m an in-house lawyer. Why does it matter to me?”
Creating a strong personal brand is crucial to career success. Period.
Whatever the economic climate. Even if you are happy, motivated, safe and secure in your role – personal branding is relevant.
Personal branding will help you excel in your career. People with strong personal brands see more promotions, increases in salary, and better opportunities. Today, I will dive deep into why cultivating a strong personal brand is an incredibly smart investment for all in-house attorneys.
What is “personal branding?”
Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to promote yourself, in order to create and grow influence as an authority and leader.
In very simple terms, it is personal advocacy. It’s being able to communicate your value, both within your organization, and externally at industry level and beyond.
Personal branding is how you want to be perceived professionally – by your colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders. Personal branding is how you represent your company. And it’s how you help your employer to enhance their brand.
What is your personal brand?
Personal branding isn’t about having fancy business cards or that signature Steve Jobs style turtleneck. Yes that’s great. BUT, in a word, your personal brand is YOU.
It’s who you are. It’s what you stand for. It’s your lawyer superpower. It’s being renowned for your meticulous drafting skills. It’s being known for your attention to detail.
So what are the benefits of having a strong personal brand?
- Internal Opportunities: Cultivating a strong personal brand through self-advocacy can make you top of mind when it comes to raises and promotions.
- Job Market: Being able to clearly communicate to others how you show up, how you serve, what motivates and inspires you can all go to helping you to attract new opportunities.
- Career Development + Professional Advancement: Your personal brand can help you attract speaking opportunities, board opportunities, and so much more. These opportunities further build upon your reputation as being an authority and expert in your field. Studies show your personal branding power directly affects your remuneration package and ability to move upwards within your organizations.
- Networking: Networking and cultivating your tribe of supporters, within different business units, and externally with others in your industry or the legal sector result in friendships, support networks, people you can call on for referrals, tips, best practices with that new legal tech software your team has been rolling out. The opportunities and benefits are endless.
How Can you Create a Strong Personal Brand?
As a lawyer coach who focuses both on mindset and strategy– mindset is a major hurdle to career success. I am now going to share with you some of the common mindset blocks which arise when we focus on the topic of self-advocacy and personal branding.
In the last few weeks I have heard:
“I don’t like talking about myself, self-promotion seems out of alignment, and not in integrity for me”
“I’m not really an expert, I am relatively junior in my organization so promoting myself doesn’t feel right”
“I am so overworked, my employers already know how hard I work in this business, so what’s the point”
“The thought of promoting myself online scares me, what if I say the wrong thing”
And let’s be honest. All of these statements resonate. For a long time as a junior lawyer in the UK, I found it hard to self-advocate in an effective manner. Self-advocacy, networking and personal branding, like strong muscles, are skills that require honing and practicing but these are skills that can be built.
- It’s perfectly understandable to experience these blocks.
- Self-advocacy isn’t something which is taught at law school.
- For lawyers, at times self-belief and confidence can be hard to access.
- Many of us are plagued by imposter syndrome- the fear of not being good enough, qualified enough and find it hard to share our voices.
- There’s the deep rooted belief “it’s better to be humble”, “not to brag,” that we should “serve others before ourselves,” – all these aspects perpetuate the cycle of burnout. We therefore don’t share our voice. We forget in advocating for our clients and stakeholders that we should also be advocating for ourselves.
So how do we unpick these blocks and limitations? We create awareness.
Ask yourself how true are the statements? Are they “true” or are these simply “limiting beliefs” which are holding you back and keeping you playing small?
- Write down some adjectives which describe how you would like people to think of you.
- Write down what makes you excellent at your job.
- Write down your lawyer superpowers.
- Identify any limiting beliefs you have, and ask yourself “how true is that?” Reflect and write down what you would say to a friend.
We can self advocate without being braggadocios. In fact, no matter your experience level, you already have a personal brand. You’re hardworking. A fast learner. You have earned all your success so far!
Quick personal branding wins
- Start networking with people within your organisation, reach out, have conversations, create internal advocates and supporters.
- Write down your “win list”. Write down your accomplishments, your superpowers, why you’re great. And own it. Get comfortable in owning your success then some of the highlights with others.
- Get started networking on LinkedIn, it’s an incredibly powerful tool and has never been more relevant during these times.
In-House Counsel with Strong Personal Brands (Connect with them!)
Jessica Nguyen, General Counsel of Lexion, known for Solo GC of the Year, top voice on LinkedIn, and champion for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Anna Lozynski, Executive General Counsel of L’Oreal known for consistently showing up on LinkedIn with great content around mindset and innovation.
Colin Levy, Legal Counsel at Lookout, known for job search content, legal innovation and much more.
Mel Scott, Senior Legal Counsel, Megaport, known for her awesome “Counsel” podcast where she interviews in-house counsel from around the globe.
Colin McCarthy, Founder of Legal Operators, Community Builder, thought leader and master of all things legal ops.
Nada Alnajafi, Founder of Contract Nerds, known for captivating and substantive content around contract drafting, negotiation and management on LinkedIn, delivered with lashings of personality.
Me! Charlotte Smith, Former Lawyer turned Executive Coach for Attorneys and In-House Counsel, and host of the Limitless Limitless Lawyer Podcast