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January 31, 2015 Practice Points

Personal Branding Is Important for Rainmaking and Networking

Developing a strong personal brand within your organization and on the Internet can help generate business and networking opportunities.

By Nathaniel Huber-Fliflet

Your personal brand is a unique brand that represents your strengths and expertise, and is intended to leave a lasting impression in the minds of your colleagues and clients. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, sums it up well, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Developing a strong personal brand within your firm/company, as well as online, can help differentiate you and create new business and networking opportunities. 

Within your firm, networking, associating with other strong brands, and proactively volunteering for work can go a long way in developing your brand. When networking, consider getting involved with internal groups or committees like technology initiatives, campus recruiting, or diversity initiatives. Be visible at the office by attending social functions and make a point to meet someone new at each one. Go out of your way to welcome new hires and bring them up to speed on what you do. Finally, reach out to successful colleagues that you don’t know. Drop by their office and offer to bring them a coffee to break the ice. If you cold email them, make sure to include information about what your specialties are and how you might team together.

Associate with other strong brands that can complement your own brand. This association could help develop a new skill set or expand your reach within your firm or company. You might find that new opportunities present themselves based on your association with other brands that wouldn’t have otherwise. It can also be helpful to make sure your brand is associated with being proactive. Make sure to seek out interesting projects and be willing to help whenever possible. Someone may be more likely to think of you for an interesting opportunity if they believe you are going to be willing to step up and assist.

It is just as important to make sure that your online brand is as strong and polished as the brand you are promoting within your firm. Your online presence can have a farther reach than you are able to achieve in person. First, run a search and confirm what others can use to form a first impression before meeting you. If there are other people with the same name, find a way to differentiate yourself. Be thoughtful about what you release into the social-media realm, as information on the Internet will always live on. Potential recruiters, future employers, and clients will make judgments about you solely based on what they know of your online brand.

Both LinkedIn and Twitter are tools you can use to help promote your brand, together they have over 500 million active users a month. To make the best of LinkedIn, simply adding a picture can increase your potential click-through rate. Be descriptive with your profile; don’t just put your title, but add additional information such as industry, specialty, or certifications. Use keywords you want associated with your name throughout your profile. With Twitter, experts say to use your full name as your handle, and to avoid posting anything controversial. Connecting with “Super Connectors” or joining career-interest groups can significantly open up your network. Abide by the rule of three: write articles, post thoughts, share compelling information, or make connections up to three times a day. As with a garden, you need to tend to your online brand, but overcommitting and doing too much can be detrimental. 

Your personal brand is what you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name. A strong brand can have a lasting impact on your career and there are techniques that can be used within your organization and online to develop and maintain it. Be thoughtful about your brand and consider how the decisions you make will impact it. 

Keywords: litigation, business development, networking, personal branding, young lawyers

— Nathaniel Huber-Fliflet, Director, Disputes & Investigations, Navigant, Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2015, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).