In the movie Runaway Bride, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) is a spirited and attractive young woman who has had several unsuccessful relationships. Maggie has left a trail of fiancés waiting for her at the altar on their wedding day.
Ike, a newspaper reporter covering Maggie, discovers that Maggie adopts each of her fiancé's interests. This is signified most prominently by her choice of eggs, which changes with each fiancé.
Many attorneys are like Maggie. They change their brand or profile to fit what they believe people are looking for. Rather than understand their unique strengths and what makes them special.
So how do you discover what makes you special and unique? Here are three quick tips for doing it.
Tip 1 - Think About What Makes You Tick
The first step is self-reflection and considering what could make you unique. Start with your background. Do your skills or interests impact how you practice law or act as a leader?
For example, does an accounting background or one in business impact how you negotiate deals or counsel business leaders?
Or did the manager at the ice cream parlor you worked in as a teenager influence you to be customer-centric and a great leader who engages your team?
About interests, did your years of studying chess impact how you approach litigation, or has your meditation and yoga practice enabled you to be truly in the moment and help you navigate chaos calmly?
Second, think about what drew you to your practice of law or being a leader in an organization. What do you love about it? What about it makes you want to get up in the morning?
Maybe you love real estate development because you are building something or health care because you want to make a difference. Or you love leading an organization because you want people to grow to their full potential.
You should start to notice the potential beginnings of a brand, as well as a hook or story to grab people’s attention when you talk about it.
Tip 2 - Think About Your Feedback
In developing your brand, also think about the feedback that you have received. What have your reviews said about you that is different from others? What do others compliment you about? When your clients talk about you, what are the words they use?
Also, think about when people—managers or clients—ask you to work on projects. Why do they believe you will add value?
Write down the words that keep coming up. That can tell you what is memorable or unique about what or how you do your role. It is essential, though, to avoid words that seem overly used, such as nice or a people person.
Tip 3 - Ask, Ask, Ask
If you are still struggling to discover your brand, you need to ask others for their opinion. Ask people who you trust – because you need the truth. I recommend talking to managers, mentors, and peers. Ask them what you do better than others or what is your unique sauce. Often other people can see your greatness more than you can yourself.
Here is a warning, though. While doing this exercise, a few clients also received some information about their brand that surprised them. There was constructive criticism. They wrongly felt this was a failure. It is the best thing that could have happened. They know they have information that can help them move forward. Information is your friend.
Once you develop your brand, you must broadcast it. A robust professional reputation or profile can only help if people know about it.
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