Thursday, January 24, 2008

Building Your Brand

Last month I posted about becoming an expert. Beyond obtaining technical competence in our field, I challenged fellow defense lawyers to set out to become THE expert:
Beyond technical competence, however, the criminal defense lawyer must set out to be THE expert in their field. When the lawyer becomes the expert, they become the problem solver and the go-to guy.
The question, left unanswered, was how to become KNOWN as the expert. Does an expert rise from the ranks and develop out of peer acknowledgment? Or is an expert a created entity, carefully crafted by profile building and marketing?

Steve Matthews had some intriguing thoughts on the matter. Steve is a legal marketer and web strategy expert. This month in the Texas Bar Journal he authored an article about developing "Thought Leadership" on the worldwide web. Basically, the article addressed the question of how one becomes known as the expert and hinged on our easy access to web based technology like blogging, threaded discussions, etc. Steve noted in the article:
For a lawyer who wishes to drive his or her personal brand through the roof, becoming a Thought Leader can deliver one of the longest lasting effects possible. Done properly, the position of being a Thought Leader could create value for a lifetime, or at least for the duration of one's professional career.
In my short time publishing on the web I've come to recognize many "thought leaders." Bloggers like Scott Greenfield and Mark Bennett come to mind since they post on subjects interesting to me, that is the practice of criminal law. There are many others, as well, who make significant contributions. Jamie Spencer, Patrick Barkman, and Robert Guest are on my daily reading list. There are many others.

Over time the contributions of these writers should establish them as experts and go-to-guys in their chosen field. Other professional benefits are also increased like media exposure, referral networks, speaking engagements, and dominance in search engine rankings. As online Thought Leaders these writers increase their image as the expert and back up their professional credibility demonstrating their knowledge to potential clients.

Thanks to Steve Matthews for this edifying piece.

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