The mere thought of it makes lawyers cringe-and conjures up visions of used car salesmen. But in today’s evolving legal profession, the ability to “sell” oneself effectively is paramount to success for all lawyers … at all levels. Intellectually, most every lawyer understands this reality. But emotionally, there is strong resistance to it.
So what is it about “sales” that is so unsavory to legal professionals? Generally speaking, lawyers believe that selling anything successfully, including oneself involves unsavory behavior including being phony, pushy, slick, aggressive, obnoxious, dishonest … or sleazy. Consequently, lawyers prefer to let their great work and credentials speak for themselves. But work and creds aren’t enough to get a lawyer to the top of the profession. In today’s competitive legal world you need more. So what’s the best way for a lawyer to feel more comfortable selling him or herself? Below are a few suggestions:
Use A Different Word.
If you can’t shake the negative stereotypes about the word “sell,” substitute it with one that resonates more positively. So instead of “selling” yourself, think about “highlighting” or “demonstrating” your experience and great qualities. Words are very powerful so using a more effective word will help conquer your fear of or distaste in highlighting your distinction.
Let Your Conduct Do The Talking.
Selling oneself is about what you say, but it’s more about how you act. Professionals see your quality when they experience it first hand. Great work product, Calm under pressure, going the extra mile, returning phone calls or emails, being dependable, respectful, engaged, positive, helping others, showing professional courtesy, not being afraid to apologize, etc. Great conduct is one of the best ways to demonstrate what’s great about you.
Say What You Believe.
When a person truly believes in something, his or her natural enthusiasm and genuineness shines through. No one is asking you to convince others that you are someone you are not. What is essential is to communicate what you honestly believe about yourself-in a humble way. In order to do this, you need to be self-aware. So on a piece of paper, write down-in detail the answers to the following: your professional accomplishments; the breadth and depth of your substantive experience; what makes you a good lawyer; what makes you a good colleague; what makes you a good person; what are your strengths what do you like about yourself. Being clear on what makes you special will enable you to be natural, genuine … and comfortable when talking about you.
Nothing is a better advertisement for awesomeness than being excellent at one’s job. And it’s far from easy. So focus on doing your job well-each and every responsibility. In addition, get along with others, be a team player, and an excellent manager. News travels fast when there’s a superstar in the house.
Get Out There.
Having a robust network and being connected is a must for today’s successful legal professional. To achieve this, a lawyer needs to be an active participant in the profession. And attending big marketing chicken dinner events isn’t the only way. There are a plethora of intimate organizations that offer participation on a smaller scale. In addition, partaking on panels, writing articles, blogs, tweets will heighten your profile as an expert in your field.
Use Good Judgment.
In interviews, networking, or talking with friends, colleagues or clients … knowing the right time to talk about your positives requires good judgment. If you’re able to master the social and professional cues, discussing You will be an easier proposition.
Selling oneself has always been a distasteful notion for lawyers. But there’s nothing distasteful about highlighting what’s special about you … if it is from the heart, and demonstrated through the quality of your actions and overall excellence. So shift your mentality about what “selling” is all about and you’ll be more at ease with the effort. And that is advice worth buying.
Julie Brush is the founder and author of The Lawyer Whisperer (www.thelawyerwhisperer.com), a career advice column for legal professionals, also found on LinkedIn. She is co-founder of Solutus Legal Search, a legal search/consulting boutique firm, serving as a strategic adviser to lawyers, law firms and corporations.