There’s no great dictionary definition of what a personal brand is. One of the most often cited colloquial definitions is from Jeff Bezos. The point Bezos is making is that a personal brand is a story.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
In other words, your personal brand is impacted and shaped by everything you do – and don’t do – to put your best foot forward. If clients are going to buy from you, they need to understand who you are, what you stand for and the value you bring to the table.
Sure, some clients buy sight unseen, but in most lawyers’ experiences those are not the best type of clients. The most meaningful, satisfying, and profitable engagements typically come from situations where clients come to you for a very specific reason. They know who you are, have done their due diligence, and oftentimes have received a referral from someone they trust.
There’s strong alignment between what they need and what you offer.
The only way for them to know that there’s strong alignment – as opposed to just hiring someone and hoping for the best – is if you project a strong personal brand into the marketplace. A lawyer with a strong personal brand puts prospective clients at ease because they are able to more directly discern what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. This helps overcome the buyer’s remorse that many clients experience which can lead to a rocky start to a new engagement.
But building a strong personal brand is no easy task. It’s comforting to think that we understand our personal brand. But when we take a deeper look, it’s easy to see the fallacy in that logic. Your personal brand isn’t what you say it is. As Jeff Bezos said, it’s what other people say about you when you’re not the room.
In other words, it’s the story other people tell about you. And it’s far better that the story told is one you crafted, rather than one that someone else conjured up in their head.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other lawyers out there do what you do. As much as you’d like to believe it, it’s highly unlikely that you possess a unique skill-set.
But you do possess a set of values, life and work experiences that make you unique. In this sense, you do offer something of value that no one else can offer: A skill-set filtered through your own lens on the world. You have a story to tell. And if your personal brand is a story, your audiences will know who you are, what you stand for, your professional strengths, and what they can expect when they hire you.
Yes, a lawyer’s personal brand is a story. And if it’s a gripping tale, it can lead to the type of word-of-mouth that sells your services, even when you’re not there to sell them yourself.
Want to get started building a powerful personal brand? Download my free Personal Brand Building Workbook that will help you assess your strengths and begin projecting them to the marketplace.