Why Your Personal Branding Matters

When we consider the topic of “branding,” we often think of well-known brands for retail goods or fast food (think Domino’s Pizza: “Hot, fresh pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.”) In fact, the concept of branding applies much more broadly and includes how each person presents their professional identity. Indeed, factors including what you wear, how you interact with others and, most importantly, what kind of work you produce, together comprise your personal brand.

It follows that practicing attorneys, irrespective of seniority and career goals, owe it to themselves to be mindful of their personal brand — and to make strategic choices about the brand they are creating.

Personal branding is the ongoing process of describing yourself to others and managing your professional reputation — who you are and what you bring to the table. Your brand is based on the experiences you’ve had and the value you’ve delivered to others.

Creating your personal brand might sound daunting, but the following steps can help you to create your brand. Keep in mind that personal branding is not a “one and done” process, but rather a fluid process that lasts throughout your entire career. As a result, from time to time you will revisit your brand and make adjustments in areas where you find you may be falling a little short of your own expectations.

As you reflect on your personal brand, you might consider the following questions:

  • What have I shown I am particularly good at doing?
  • Where do my passions lie?
  • How do people benefit by working with me?
  • What field am I in, and what field do I want to be in?
  • What market do I serve?
  • What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else?
  • What are five adjectives that describe me now? And in the future?

Gather outside perspective by asking peers, friends and supervisors for feedback:

  • What do they feel you are particularly good at doing?
  • What words do others use to describe you? And your work product?
  • What do they feel sets you apart from your peers?

Once you’ve done some reflecting and have a sense of what comprises your personal brand, start promoting yourself in ways that feel authentic. Networking — both in person and online — is essential to marketing your brand. Start to build partnerships within your firm and externally with clients, co-counsel, and even opposing counsel. Strategically manage your online presence, for instance, on websites like LinkedIn, to ensure what is readily accessible online is what you would want people to associate with your name.

There will be bumps along the way — an assignment gone bad, a deadline missed or just a bad day. All is not lost when this happens. The best way to handle this hit to your brand is to (i) own up to and apologize for any mistake, (ii) figure out what went wrong and why, (iii) participate in remedying the mistake and (iv) learn from any mistake so that it isn’t repeated.