Alex Su, head of community development at Ironclad, didn’t set out to be a TikTok star, but odds are that if you’re in the legal industry and browsing the app, he’s shown up more than once on your “For You” page.
Known as @legaltechbro, Su has accumulated more than 74,600 followers and 3.7 million likes for his videos, which poke fun at everything from law school regrets to impossible client demands and other legal industry headaches.
He’s now known as “the TikTok guy” by thousands of lawyers across the in-house counsel scene, which Su says has become a core element of his personal brand.
Personal branding is a hot topic for legal professionals, with countless seminars and consultancy meetings scheduled these days to teach lawyers how to harness their branding for whatever needs they might have.
Branding is more than just social media posts and TikTok skits, however. According to Su, personal brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room. Good or bad, everyone has a brand of some sort, he and attorney-turned-consultant Sameena Kluck said.
Kluck and Su hosted crash course-style seminars on personal branding this week at the CLOC Global Initiative conference in Las Vegas. They said good branding is essential for legal professionals, as it can help communicate what value one can bring to the table in any given situation.
Effective communication can translate to deeper interactions, Kluck said.
“It allows you to really authentically be seen, and feel more engaged when you can bring all of yourself, and not feel like you have to close off part of yourself,” Kluck said.
Branding can help stakeholders rally around projects, and know whom to turn to for particular expertise. That means more visibility and opportunities for legal professionals who put themselves out there.
That kind of influence can be a big help for in-house counsel in particular. Su said legal departments often have been perceived as reactionary and poorly adapted to take business initiative on their own. That’s changing, as more general counsel are stepping into C-suite roles, and seek to advise on business matters.
“If you don’t look like a traditional general counsel, then it can be hard to break into some of those conversations,” Su said. “But when you post on LinkedIn and you get traction, for example, you have a way to spread your message indirectly to other stakeholders.”
‘Focus on the Audience’
For the uninitiated, developing personal brand can be difficult. So Su said starting with familiar environments, such as LinkedIn, can be helpful.
Instead of simply listing positions and accomplishments, Su advises using LinkedIn to craft a narrative around one’s niche and passions. Kluck agreed, adding that identifying one’s “superpower” should be the first step in crafting such narratives.
“What do people like about working with you? Work that into your LinkedIn,” Kluck said. “Your summary is your elevator pitch. … Don’t miss those opportunities.”
She also advises legal professionals establish themselves as leaders in their field, and not to be shy about using hard statistics to bolster the narrative. Building a personal brand should be about demonstrating achievements, rather than listing duties.
Although Su succeeded on TikTok, he said personal branding can easily be accomplished on traditional networking sites like LinkedIn. The essential element is engagement, he said.
“If you focus on the audience and the people who are reading your content, and you provide them value … your personal brand grows faster and stronger,” Su said.