Are CLEs a thing of the past? Will bar association meet and greets go away? What would you say if you ran into the biggest client of your life, tomorrow? I ask these questions to challenge you to think about how you’re communicating now and how you’d like to communicate this year and beyond in commonplace settings. Many people call communication skills soft skills. But really, they’re the foundation and umbrella of everything you do. Do the words coming out of your mouth each day match your hourly rate? Do they say winner or whiner?
You have the opportunity to differentiate yourself and your firm every day. Much is said about personal brand and brand identity. Both concepts really meld together and take on a bigger importance as we think about you as a brand ambassador. This doesn’t only mean a big cheerleader – although that is one aspect. Embodying a powerful brand ambassador position can boost your brand and bring in the bucks in ways you might not imagine.
Let’s start with something that’s a part of every lawyer’s and many judges’ lives. The meet and greet for XYZ Organization. Rather than thinking of these settings as burdens you carry as part of your obligation to the firm, use them as opportunities to meet new people, make an impression, and even have some fun. I suggest you not pack too many goals into these outings. Give yourself one intent for the afternoon or evening and stay focused. Perhaps you want to meet two new people. Or you’d like to have a solid second conversation with someone you met at the previous meeting of this group. Go with intention and arm yourself with the tools of audience analysis.
Don’t just show up. Prepare ahead of time to maximize the time you are out there as a brand ambassador. Get a strong sense of the person or people who will cross your path through online research or anecdotal inquiries from colleagues. This helps lead to meaningful conversations when you see these people at the events. You also showcase yourself and your firm in a much brighter light.
Wins vs. Missed Opportunities
The follow-up is where your wins will happen. Instead of pouncing at the meet and greets, look for openings for second conversations or meetings. Perhaps you can send your new friends some information that’s of interest to them. If you are able to create your own system for taking the “regular” settings you face each week or month and turning them into launching pads for selling yourself and your firm, you will have a great year ahead.