Thursday, May 11, 2006

Building Personal Brand

The most common question I am asked is, "How can I build a personal brand for myself?" If an attorney is interested in building a positive brand I have the answers that worked for me (there are those that believe any brand is better than none... BRILLIANT! <--- Thats sarcasm).
  1. Show up: In order to be know I had to be seen. I did not need to be the center of attention or have some significant purpose. I just make sure that I show up at the places where people are (that I want to be known by). It did take a commitment of time. Some weeks I went to functions three to four nights a week, and attended a few gatherings and luncheons. Over time I have been able to slow that pace and select my events more carefully, but in the beginning I did need to grit my teeth and just show up.
  2. Be seen with the "right" people: Every crowd has "A" through "D" players. Its just like high school out there in the real world. I took the time to study which people where considered insiders and learned to stay away from most of the rest. I know that sounds rude but life is just like that in everything we do. I have never been actually rude to anyone but my focus was always on being associated with the "right" people.
  3. Have an opinion: People like associating with others that appear to have direction and purpose. Having an (reasoned) opinion is the best way of demonstrating my drive to achieve. I am not afraid to offer my take on things I know something about. Sometimes people listen and other times I am taught something new.
  4. Be passionate about something: (see above) People seemed to respond when they knew that I was gung-ho about my profession and the things I did in my personal life. I know when I meet someone with passion I hope that a bit of what they feel will rub off on me.
  5. Say nice things about yourself: This is a tough one. I was raised by an old-school Staten Island bred father who believed that it's not proper to extol ones self in public. I'm sure that works if you have already arrived or come from a big pile of old money, but I learned that if I don't tell people about me once in a while they may never know. It's not "bragging" to mention things you've accomplished. Its bragging when you go on and on and expect others to be in awe. Simply to say, "When I.... it turned out that..." is really OK.
  6. Find ways to lead or organize: Every industry and community has organizations constantly in need of people to volunteer. Get on a committee or lead an event associated with the group of people you are targeting. Any position of perceived authority has been a good thing for me even though it's not much of anything at all.
  7. Speak or write publicly: I have done both and both have been incredibly productive for my brand. Again it took going the extra mile in addition to doing what I am paid to do but the dividend is exponential. The people I wish I knew better are calling me or recognize my name because they read it or sat in an audience.
  8. Find words that represent you: Say them over and over again whenever you're in a conversation. For me the words are, "I am a catalyst of growth and change." Or something close to that. One attorney I knew always found a way to interject, "I make millionaires" in every new business conversation. In both cases our words are true and compelling. When other people introduce me they often use the "catalyst" word. Its a wonderful brand message for me.
  9. Ask and deliver: Plenty of people will ask, "what can I do to help you?" Not as many as you might imagine will deliver on that implied promise. More importantly, don't wait to be asked. It has never been to tough for me to figure out what might be helpful for another person and I like taking action to make something happen for them. I have never kept score but it feels pretty even most of the time.
  10. Don't quit: One more event feeling like a wallflower... one more uncomfortable breakfast... one more favor that took real effort that went nowhere. Don't quit! My experience is that building the relationships that result in a broadly known personal brand takes time and a little heartache. The result though, for me, has been incredibly rewarding. I'm not in the headlines; people don't stop in their tracks to hear what I have to say. But in the little corner of the world where I make a living I feel respected and I am thankful to be known. Don't quit.

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