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January 16, 2015

How to generate an ‘online personal brand’ with the minimum of fuss

Sweet as chocolate. Photo: Nan Palmero

 

Law firms may not be leading the way with their use of social media, but they are catching up. Fast. So if you’re an associate still looking for a new year resolution, you could do worse than decide to build or improve your online personal brand.

According to research, ‘The Social Law Firm Index’ conducted by Good2bSocial and Managing Partner magazine in 2014, UK firms are ahead of US law firms in experimenting with and deploying social business technologies. The authors also think that the UK legal market could be ‘on the verge of a significant increase in the use of social business technology’.

This means that there is an opportunity to take advantage of this burgeoning interest in social tools while others may still be slow on the take-up. A strong online brand might just be the key to making you stand out from your competition – whether that’s to find a new job in 2015 or to hold on more firmly to the one you’ve already got.

It’s not even like it’s that hard. Yes, there is time involved in building your profiles across a few channels, which will be enough to put off many a hard-pressed lawyer. But once you’re established, the input can be relatively small compared to the potential output.

Quality tweets

Take, for example, Twitter. It takes next to no time to ‘follow’ a range of publications and a few industry notables. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself a daily news feed that can more speedily update you on latest market insights than you could possibly achieve by trawling through your morning papers. Better, you can then use the best snippets as the basis of your own posts, replicated across channels.

And if you’re not convinced that your bosses (or potential bosses) will notice your efforts, then do it for existing and future clients. If you’ve got your hopes pinned on making it to partnership, then you’ll need to prove you’ve got business development skills – and the earlier the better.

If law firms have been slow to adopt social media, then corporates are not. According to recent research by Jobvite, over 90% of companies are now using or plan to use social media to aid recruitment.

Don’t be surprised, therefore, if they also look to social media to help choose the lawyers they’ll work with. If you have a strong online presence, you may just give yourself an advantage that’ll help you build client relationships. And that most certainly will be noticed by your bosses.

Seven social strategies

So what tips can we provide to help you build an online brand? Here are just a few:

  1. Start with LinkedIn – the most obvious place for your professional presence. Ensure your profile is complete, include a picture and join a few groups. It’ll be the first place that other professionals will look for information about you and it’ll be your starting place for networking.
  2. Don’t overlook Twitter. It’s an excellent channel for building profile (and followers) quickly. Also good for looking up and joining in with live conversations on topics of interest. At the very least you can use it to quickly gain a custom-built news feed – enabling you to impress both your bosses and clients with your up-to-the-minute market knowledge.
  3. Think professionally. Don’t post anything, anywhere, that you wouldn’t want your boss to see. Check your privacy settings and ensure that you hide any past content that is unfavourable.
  4. Do a Google search to check that there is no negative content coming up that might tar your online brand (such as those embarrassing pictures from your misspent youth). These problems can be fixed, if only by posting positive content that’ll push the bad stuff down the search page.
  5. Think about creating a profile on About.Me. This will be your personal landing page, including links to all your social media outlets. It doesn’t take long but provides you with a useful hub that you can advertise on your business cards and elsewhere.
  6. Set up and write a blog. Yes, this does require more time – and it’s not essential for good online branding. But if you like writing, and you’re seeking a way to escape the chores on a Sunday afternoon, a blog can pay dividends. Especially in a niche industry like law where it can be easier to get noticed.
  7. Check out your Klout score. This gives you an indication of the effectiveness of all your activity. If you regularly scoring over 40, you’re doing well. If you’re getting over 60, then it’s time to get back to your day job…

Social media is here to stay – even for the most conservative of law firms. Investing time in your online personal brand will reap rewards when it becomes clear that a CV is no longer enough for career advancement. CP

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