Dan Schwabel: Brand the Lawyer, Not the Firm

Dan Schwabel personal brandingDan Schwabel knows a thing or two about personal branding. Time Magazine named him an expert on the topic, he is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future and is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding. He's written about personal branding in Forbes.com, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. Oh, and he's all of 27 years old.

I interviewed Dan and his thesis is that success in law practice comes to lawyers who turn themselves into personal brands. It's well known that clients hire lawyers, not law firms. But law firms make the mistake of branding the firm as an entity, and not the individuals who bring them new business.

Here's how to do it:

  • Get active in social media. "You want to be on the major social networks -- LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. You want to come up every time or you'll miss an opportunity if you don’t. Attorneys will get the most out of LinkedIn and can tap into 100 million people, get referrals and get introductions to people. Then you can fish where the fish are and bring them to back to your website."
  • You must have your own personal website. A bio on the firm website is insufficient. "Every person should have their own website," Schwabel told me. "People are searching for you online and you want to be on the #1 spot to that people can click and find you."
  • Create your Facebook page. It should focus on business, not your personal affairs. Remember, businesses have Facebook pages, individuals have Facebook profiles. There's a big difference. "There's no downside to it is you keep it professional," Schwabel said. "It can only help you if people "Like" your updates."
  • Define your brand. "Spell out what makes you different from everyone else -- your skills, personality, credential, awards you won, how many years you've been in business," Schwabel said. "People will talk about you based on who you’re associated with, who you’re friends with and who you do business with."
  • Attach yourself to a well-known brand. Schwabel accomplished this by working as the Social Media Specialist for EMC for two years. Lawyers can achieve this by working at a brand-name law firm. If that is not possible, then contribute to a well-known blog, write for a recognized magazine or speak at a national convention.
  • Comment on blogs. Schwabel said he commented on every single blog that focused on personal branding, "so people would see my name and face and come to my blog." Lawyers can find a choice of thousands of blogs to comment on at BlawgSearch.
  • Become an expert in your field.  "I wanted to become an expert as fast as I could so I read everything I could. Then I started getting published in About.com, the American Marketing Association and BrandWeek Magazine. I was doing more than just writing a blog. I was showing people I had some credibility," Schwabel said.
  • Learn to become an extrovert. "I still am an introvert. An extrovert doesn’t have to push himself to get out there; I still have to push myself. Extroverts have a huge advantage because life is all about networking -- it will help you get ahead in career. I could write a book on how to be a successful introvert," Schwabel said.

 You can subscribe to Personal Branding Magazine to learn more.

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