When people say personal brand, what do you think? Do you first think of celebrities and professional athletes? I’ll bet many of you do, as those are the people who are obsessed with perpetuating a certain image of themselves to their target demographic. But why doesn’t “what is my personal brand and how am I being perceived by the market, my peers and my co-workers,” first pop up in your mind? Unusual as it may sound, your personal brand may be the ultimate key to your success in the legal technology space.
Here’s the reason why.
I’d argue that good work ethic, great interpersonal skills and all the traits that make you a great employee are the things you just need to keep your job and slowly climb the corporate ladder. But to really excel -especially in the legal space - you need others outside your immediate co-workers to see you for who you really are.
You are an unique asset with a special skill set that brings unmatched value to your organization. How many people do you know at your law firm or within your legal department who have the same set of legal, IT and technology skills? Probably few to none. The question then becomes, how do you get people to see you not as the paralegal with some technical skills or the IT guy with some legal knowledge?
The answer: You need to invest in your personal brand, beyond your normal, day-to-day job activities.
If you can do this, the chances of you getting a raise, a promotion or being recruited away to another organization to oversee more activities will be increased greatly. Why is this the case? Well, the reality is that few legal IT professionals are truly capitalizing on the opportunity to build personal brands in the legal market. As a director of marketing, I see it every day. E-Discovery and other like-minded professionals are typically timid about speaking up and sharing their best practices.
Right now the legal technology space is relatively young. There is still room to get your voice heard because it’s not crowded with legal technologists sharing their views. New buzzwords and topics like legal project management and legal AI are proof that media publications aren’t looking for partners to give their take on case law, but instead are looking for stories on how legal is changing to be more efficient, more technology savvy and finally start catching up to the innovation showcased in other fields like manufacturing, telecommunications, etc.
If you’re interested in building your personal brand in the legal technology market, here are 3 tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Look to collaborate across departments internally. Schedule a monthly coffee date or lunch with your counterpart in a different department and try to understand their duties, pains and challenges. This will give you insight into how other departments view problems and potentially give you opportunities to collaborate on solutions.
Tip #2: Join associations beyond ILTA. Volunteer at the state bar or attend association meetings outside of the legal technology space so you can add a different, unique perspective than other legal professionals might.
Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge. Most conferences have a call for speakers and there are plenty of other public speaking opportunities on the web (for instance - www.exterro.com/edtalks) that empower you share your expertise. Look for these and submit your own ideas. Even if you aren’t accepted right away, keep trying and you will eventually find yourself with a platform to showcase your knowledge.
Whatever you do, don’t stand still. The legal technology space is growing rapidly and if you already have these skills, it’s your time to pounce on the opportunity to grow your personal brand and thus grow your career.