Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the “Unlocking Your Career Potential: Strategies for Advancement and Success” event organized by the Legal Marketing Association in Atlanta. This immersive gathering brought together industry experts, thought leaders, and ambitious professionals, providing valuable insights into navigating the legal marketing landscape and unlocking career growth. Attending networking events and educational conferences can be a transformative experience for legal professionals seeking to advance their careers. In this blog post, I will share some of the key takeaways and valuable lessons I learned during this enlightening event that are relevant to legal industry professionals in general.
The stellar panel included Jennifer Griffin Scotton, Chief Marketing Officer at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP; Christy Walsh, Chief Operating Officer at Drew Eckl & Farnham LLP; Lee Watts, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Ashby & Co Consulting; and Kathryn Whitaker, Chief Marketing Officer at Burr & Furman LLP. Nikki Sherrill, Chief Business Development Officer at Parker Hudson, moderated and shared her wisdom and expertise as well.
- Communication is crucial: Make sure to express your interest in professional growth throughout your career journey.
- Seek guidance from mentors: Engaging with mentors can provide valuable guidance and insights to help you advance your career.
- Build a personal brand: Developing a personal brand is a powerful way to establish your professional reputation and cultivate meaningful connections.
- Diversify your skill set: Expand your career opportunities by diversifying your skill set and embracing new challenges.
- Master managing up: Navigate organizational dynamics and build stronger relationships with superiors by mastering the art of managing up.
- Join a professional association: Professional associations offer access to valuable resources, mentoring opportunities, and a supportive community.
- Become a revenue enabler and connector: Enhance your value and impact as a professional by becoming a revenue enabler and connector.
I would like to emphasize the importance of personal branding, managing up, and preparation when starting your career.
Creating a personal brand is a vital aspect of your professional life. It involves recognizing your skills, interests, and passions and combining them to form a genuine and convincing brand that represents you. A clear and strong personal brand can help you stand out in your career and achieve your goals.
To build your personal brand, it’s crucial to focus on your professional development and create a “brag bio” that consistently highlights your strengths and skills across all social media platforms. Additionally, you should identify three areas where you excel or want to establish yourself as an expert in the legal industry and develop a theme around them. Speaking at conferences and writing for industry publications can also help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. By following these steps, you can effectively establish your personal brand and gain recognition as a respected industry leader.
It is important to understand the difference between personal brand and reputation. Many of your networking contacts will come from your volunteer roles with industry professional organizations. You should always strive to leave a positive impression when it is time to move on for both volunteer and paid work. The panel shared examples of how you can establish a personal brand that will help you stand out in the industry and achieve your career goals.
The panelists discussed “managing up,” which involves helping supervisors understand the project’s bigger picture, showcasing project management skills, and taking responsibility for one’s work by self-proofreading and editing.
Your manager may see the bigger picture, however, you will need to demonstrate that you see it too in the ways you engage with them about the project. Taking initiative, focusing on the details, and making recommendations for solutions to potential issues. In fact, the panelists suggested asking questions and offering an answer (even if it is the wrong answer) to show that you are thinking through the entire workflow.
In my project management classes, I share the axiom “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” At the end of the discussion, the panelists were asked about the most important qualities or attributes they developed that made a positive difference in their careers. They emphasized the importance of preparation and knowing what it takes to be prepared for your current and future roles. This will involve increasing your level of curiosity and requesting an invitation to observe meetings with your supervisor to learn beyond the scope of your job description.
They also advised that preparation involves observing and understanding the motivation of others on your team or project sponsors by leveraging the needs of the stakeholders. Another factor that motivates team leadership is the office culture of your firm or business. Identify how to support the office culture trends within your firm to your advantage. Becoming a connector at your firm will allow you to become a “revenue enabler” which can also help you grow in your career. Revenue enablers understand how the firm makes money and seek to identify opportunities to support that endeavor from their role in legal marketing or technology.
Putting Your Plan in Action
Finally, prepare to make friends. The legal industry specifically, legal marketing and technology is small compared to other industries. Everyone knows everyone or at least are only a few LinkedIn degrees away. The panelists also talked about the importance of being enthusiastic, taking the initiative to improve your skills, being a good listener, and making friends.
Overall, the panelists were thoughtful, expert, and humble in sharing their experiences. They seemed genuinely interested in the career growth of the people in the audience. While the specific anecdotes shared were from their perspective as legal marketing experts, the key takeaways from their discussion are universal to any career path. Take a moment to assess your career strategy and incorporate the knowledge shared in this article to create practical short-term and long-term goals. Use the upcoming weekend to enhance your personal brand. Reach out to a colleague or connect virtually with someone who can offer mentorship and schedule a coffee meeting with them this month. Furthermore, commit to dedicating time each week to reading industry-specific blogs. This will keep you informed and ready for networking interactions, allowing you to actively participate in discussions within your professional community.
Director, Corporate Training & Recruiting
Legal Tech Talent Network