Crafting your personal brand in the luxury sector

Lawyers need to spend some quiet time setting out their personal goals, writes Deborah Farone
3D Illustration Cogs Personal Branding

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This article is the second in a series on personal branding best practices for luxury executives. The first is Personal branding is not a luxury.

Like the marketing of a beautiful handbag, pair of shoes, or fine sportscar, individuals including in-house counsel of luxury companies, need to have their own branding plan. While it may be easy to think, ‘Yes, I’ll give this speaking engagement,’ or it might make sense to join an association, the best place to begin a branding process is with a plan that includes a clear idea of your objectives and audience. But where do you start? Here are some of the recommendations I discuss with my clients.

Setting time aside
Set aside a half-day of quiet time to think about your goals. Consider where you want to go in terms of your career. Is it to strengthen your current reputation as an industry expert while staying at your current company? That’s great, but successfully holding on to your spot in light of constant competition for the role requires a specific type of branding plan. You will need tactics to support that objective. Are you an in-house counsel who wants to switch lanes to work at a different company within the luxury space or perhaps even at a law firm? Good again, but it will require a different plan of action. Once you figure out your objectives, you’ll be better positioned to decide on the tactics that will get you there.  

Discovering what you value
In thinking about your career path and objectives, consider what attributes you value at work. Whether you aim for a new position or employer, or decide to switch careers entirely, you can do so by finding a match for your values. First, define what it is you value. Start by asking yourself what is it that you enjoy about your current role. Is it the opportunity to affect change within your company? Is it the predictability of being able to apply your knowledge? Is it as simple as receiving a regular paycheck and the opportunity to work with a great group of people? Then, by making a list of those things you currently value, you’ll be able to focus on them and perhaps even reorder the importance of those values, to help you focus on what you want to do next - even if it's staying where you are.

Developing your positioning
Thinking about your brand and developing a positioning statement can help in several ways. While your message may change slightly based on who is in your audience (is it someone you speak with during a cocktail party or are you speaking to a large group at an industry conference), it frees you up to focus on the tactics that will appeal to you most.

For example, do you want to be known as an intellectual property trademark protection leader? Do you want to be known as an expert in litigating to help keep companies safe from potential acquirers?

While some consultants call this self-description an “elevator pitch,” I believe it’s much more. Having a position in the marketplace and being able to articulate that position does at least three things:

One: It can help you uncover the right opportunities for you.

Two: It helps reduce the stress from the constant question, “What is it exactly that you do for a living?”

Three: It makes it more likely that you will be able to pursue the tactics - whether speaking engagements, articles, or press opportunities for example - that fit your objectives so that you can make the most of your time.

Knowing Your Audience
Next, consider the audience that you want to reach. It may be the general counsel of specific companies, or you may be interested in moving to a law firm. In this case, you’ll want to connect with the partners and other professionals who might help recruit you. The recruiters at your country’s top recruiting firms may also be on your target list of targeted audience members. If there are particular companies where you dream of working, be active on LinkedIn and connect with people at those organizations. Follow their companies. Consider setting up news alerts on Google to follow the professionals and companies that interest you so that you can follow their news. The more specificity you have regarding where you want to work, the more likely you can build a better personal branding plan.

Who do you want to appeal to, and who must know about your brand? If the answer is that you want to move up the ladder in your department or within the organization, your core audience is likely more internal. This may mean bringing fresh ideas and influence to your current role. It may also mean taking a leadership role on an organizational project. To reach new potential employers, you’ll want to identify their associations carefully and where they participate on social media.  

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, your plan of action will help reach those individuals who matter to you and your career, and to further your brand. Networking and knowing people one-on-one is vital, but like any successful product marketing, personal marketing should be multi-layered and multi-channel. There are many tactics out there involving speaking engagements, bylined article writing, and social media, and it is a whole other discussion as to which ones will work best for you. In the meantime, knowing where to aim is the first step.

Deborah Farone of Farone Advisors is a consultant based in New York City and the author of Best Practices in Law Firm Business Development and Marketing. She can be reached at [email protected]

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