A ‘brand you’ approach

 In Gill's Blog, Practice Management

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A positive personal brand will help you maintain and grow your existing client base

A brand you approach

CHRISSIE LIGHTFOOT, author of the Naked Lawyer books, adopts the ‘brand you’ concept coined by Tom Peters in his article for Fast Company magazine in the 1990s. According to this concept, you are only as good as the quality of your network, and building your network should be a number-one priority. The adage ‘people buy people’ is basically the reason for this – let people get to know the real you. Be accessible to them, and you will build your network and your client bank.

The idea that you should create a brand of your own within your firm’s brand is not so surprising. You will have your own development goals and, while you work within an organisation, these will hopefully work in harmony with its goals. As you grow, you may end up owning that organisation and influencing its direction, or you may move on and even set up your own outfit.

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So what do you aspire to? And how do you build that brand to fulfil those aspirations?

Set goals

STEP has a tool on its website to help you set appropriate development goals to ensure you maintain your competence in the workplace, but there is no reason why that tool might not also be used to develop your ‘brand’.

People who fulfil their aspirations set themselves challenging goals, write them down and make incremental steps towards achievement every day. James Clear, in his article ‘The science of developing  mental toughness in your health, work, and life’, writes: ‘What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? Mental toughness.’ Perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals will take you far. It is the tortoise, not the hare, that finishes the course; consistency beats flair.

Development plans

The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised; it needs to learn to be resilient. If you repeatedly push yourself successfully in small ways, when you face a real difficulty you will not wilt, but instead fall back on what you learnt in practice.

Plan to achieve a positive brand and monitor your progress with either personal  appraisal – by finding a mentor whom you respect to encourage you and challenge you to achieve – or your organisation’s appraisal system.

Example

You are a solicitor in England grappling with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s competence standard, and you aspire to be at level 4. This means you need to be able to deal with complex transactions, take full responsibility for progressing a case and produce innovative solutions and ways forward. Can you describe the last time you were innovative in your job?

If your aspiration is to reach a level 4 standard over the next 12 months, you need to plan some building blocks to achieve this goal, such as:

  • Undertake some desk research, i.e. Google it – you might find some invaluable books.
  • Practise: take something you do regularly and start again to see if there are more effective and efficient ways of delivering the same outcome.
  • Start a discussion among your peers at work, at home or with your friends.
  • Reflect on the people you know and choose someone you think is an innovator to mentor you.

Take a work-based activity or file that is ripe for an innovation makeover and put what you have learnt into practice with the help of your mentor.

Why bother?

Clients will come back repeatedly for advice delivered reliably and consistently, irrespective of any obstacles that get in the way of the provider, such as a lack of secretarial support, computer meltdown or other excuses. You will never be short of clients if you maintain consistency and keep on track to deliver the advice or actions you promised.

This article was first published in www.step.org/journal | November 2016

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