What is a Personal Brand and Why Do You Need One?
I once saw a great tweet that said, roughly, “If you think you don’t have a personal brand, the one you have is pretty bad.”
Personal branding is about marketing yourself as if you were a product.
Think about consumer product marketing. It’s more than just talking about what the product is. It’s about what it does, how it does it, why it does it better, and how you feel when you use it.
For job seekers, this is leading to a shift away from simply submitting a resume to providing employers with access to various personal brand assets. This will include a resume or a CV, but also links to a carefully managed LinkedIn profile, a blog, evidence of articles that disseminate original ideas, third-party reviews of your work, evidence of an online following, and validation of you as an influencer.
In law, it’s not much different, but I encourage clients to let their personalities and even their quirks become part of their personal brand. Why? It helps you rise above the crowd.
Showcase what makes you unique.
When I was a daily newspaper reporter, there was a top corporate lawyer I loved to call because he was just so funny. His biting humor was part of his personal brand, rendering him unforgettable to everyone who worked with him.
I remember the managing partner of an AmLaw 100 firm who later became general counsel of a Fortune 50 company. He would return a call from anywhere: a tarmac in Kuala Lampur, a kayak in the Galapagos, or his mother’s farm in the Deep South. Each time he called, we talked about where he was, and for a moment I was an arm-chair traveler with him. Not only was he reliable, he always had a great talking point or segue to start the conversation.
Ray Ocampo, former general counsel of Oracle, competed in the luge for the Philippines in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. It was the first time the Philippines had rejoined the Olympic games since 1972. The islands fielded a one-man team: Ray Ocampo. He placed 35th, which is still better than most people in the world. His brand is influenced by his time as an Olympic athlete; Ray Ocampo is consistent, focused, and has a great sense of pride about placing 35th.
While the luge is a unique hobby, I'd really just rather not.
How to develop the personal side of your brand?
Use compelling sound bites to make yourself memorable. I know lawyers who are known for their passion for fly-fishing, for golfing every course in Scotland, for collecting first editions of children’s books, and marathon racing dune buggies. I know others for their dedication to a particular non-profit, including an insurance coverage attorney who I knew without fail spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas morning at Larkin Street Youth Services. People will only remember a couple of things about you, so make sure they’re pointed and authentic.
Take a risk, let your personality show, and see what it does to your personal brand and book of business.
Susan Kostal is a legal marketing and media coach specializing in the Bay Area legal industry. Find more great content on Twitter @skostal.