Following up on yesterday’s post, a couple of folks have asked me exactly what I mean by “be yourself” in your practice.
Here are some examples of what I mean — by way of a brainstorm and in no particular order:
Don’t use scales of justice or lady justice or a gavel on your website. Because then your site is indistinguishable from every other generic lawyer website. You are not just another generic lawyer. You have a personality and a purpose. Don’t waste this chance to express you. Use a logo or at least your name/firm’s name in an interesting typeface (font) that communicates something about YOU.
An extension of the above point: have a unique business card that is an expression of you. Mine is square. And has a cool logo. Every person I share it with comments on its uniqueness (in a positive way), and more than once this has led me to get the call after a networking event (instead of the 10 other lawyers who were there with their boring rectangular cards with no logo or scales of justice and in Times New Roman font). I know this because the people who called told me it was my card. Really.
I’m not suggesting that a cool logo or business card will make or break your practice. But guess what? People judge you on first impressions. Their first visit to your site, their first look at your business card? These impressions matter. A lot. Why waste this opportunity to make a great one that helps you stand out in a positive way?
Write content – whether for your website, blog, LinkedIn, etc. — that is expressive and interesting and communicates at least one thing about you that differentiates you from most of the 1.25 million other lawyers in the US.
Speaking of your bio — a laundry list of your super lawyer achievements should appear below your “story”: who you are as a person and why you’re the lawyer you are. [I mention my family’s animal menagerie in my law firm bio. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me that this made me stand out in a good way. THIS is an example of “being yourself” to connect meaningfully.] “Credentials” are nice but clients want to hire a lawyer who is a real person, and not simply a walking credential. And super lawyer status? More of an ego thing for lawyers then helpful to your clients.
Know who your ideal client is, and think about how you can convey your unique selling proposition to this very person. Create a buyer persona and seek this persona out via all of your web and other marketing efforts.
Seek out networking opportunities that resonate with you. Do good work that connects with your values and interests. Even if it’s not obvious what the networking ROI is, when you put good out into the world good comes back to you. And doing it in an unexpected way? All the more likely to emphasize your je ne sais quois.
Do only mostly the work that you like to do. This falls into two broad categories: (1) Do the legal work that you like and don’t do the stuff that you don’t. This may mean trimming your range of practice areas, or even your niche within an area. Don’t think about the prospective clients you lose by doing this. Think instead about the prospective clients who you will actually want to work with, and who will hire you because you’re focusing on the right thing(s). (2) Don’t do the “side” stuff that you don’t like. Hire people to do this stuff for you. In this world of virtual, you can find an assistant who can accomplish most any task related to your practice, without taking another employee on to raise or investing a lot in time or infrastructure. Figure out what you can delegate based on how you want to be spending your time, and DELEGATE.
Okay, I have many more thoughts on this topic but I’ve got a proposal to finish today that won’t happen if I keep writing. More to follow … and I welcome your thoughts in the comments (or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org) on what you think about “being yourself” in your practice, and how you do it.