Branding? You Are Your Brand
By Terrie S. Wheeler, MBC
Branding is a term that can strike fear into professionals because it sounds advertising-oriented. Branding is about identifying what makes you unique and deciding what you want to be known for, then consistently communicating these messages to the world. Like picking a major in college, branding means choosing the niche within which you want to be known and being on the short list of lawyers practicing in this area. If you practice family law, you might want to develop your brand around working with business owners, physicians, military families, women, collaborative law or foreign adoptions. If you are a business lawyer, you might want to develop your brand around a particular industry such as manufacturing, family-owned businesses, woman owned businesses or professional services firms.
Once you have defined your niche, bring your brand to life through your communications, logo and materials, website, social media posts, events, presentations, elevator message, blogging and article writing.
Bright Idea! Ask your contacts and clients to tell you what they think you are best known for. Review the responses and work them into everything you do.
Become a Thought Leader: It’s Time to Engage on Social Media
Word on the street is you need to be doing more with social media, that social media is here to stay, and that you’ll be left in the dust if you do not jump on board. Actually, it’s true. But there are a few concepts and ideas that will help you build a bridge to social media engagement that will not overwhelm you. The ultimate goal of social media is to take your knowledge and expertise and get in front of people who care. The concept is called thought leadership. You can become a thought leader if you:
- Create an all-star LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is for professionals. You are a professional. Therefore, you must have a LinkedIn profile. Make sure you add a professional picture, write in first person, and let your enthusiasm show through. Then, connect with people in your network, but only those you know. Your goal should be to have more than 500 contacts. You can do it.
- Join groups on LinkedIn. Do a search for groups to join. Find those that attract prospective clients and referral sources. Join your law school alumni group. You can join up to 50 groups.
- Engage with your groups. Add substantive comments to group discussions, start your own discussion and comment on others’ discussions.
- Create company profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook. Make sure your firm has a presence on both sites and that your company profiles are accessible through your email signature block and on your website.
- Create content and post it. Being a thought leader is all about providing helpful and relevant information to your contacts. Develop a calendar of posts. You can find excellent material to post by setting up Google Alerts (google.com/ alerts) on keywords and topics you are interested in. Use a social media aggregator service such as HootSuite.com and schedule a whole month or two of posts in advance.
- The word blog is both a subject and a verb. In this instance we are talking about the action verb – the act of writing timely and relevant 200-400 word blog posts. Promote your blog posts to the LinkedIn groups you have joined, post a link to your blog on your LinkedIn status update, and integrate your blog into your website.
- Offer free webinars. Several resources, such as GoToWebinar.com, allow you to easily offer free webinars to your contacts. In doing so, you will develop a following of people interested in your expertise.
Bright Idea! Schedule a recurring appointment on your calendar each day for 10 minutes and spend that time exclusively on enhancing your online reputation through social media.
Next month we will discuss implementation ideas for trade association involvement, community involvement, running your practice like a business and developing your base of referral sources.