Lessons from the CPD “Take Control of Your Career: Hard Work is Not Enough”

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Deborah Glatter, training and management consultant (former Director of Career Development at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP) spoke about strategically managing your own career. She pointed out that no one else will care for your career as you do. If you are not proactive, you may come to a dead end in your career. You can’t hit a target that you do not see. For example, if you want to become a partner, you need to know the criteria for entry into the partnership. Ask yourself “are you a replaceable cog in the wheel?”

One way to avoid being a replaceable cog in the wheel is to claim a subject matter expertise. You can level the playing field by choosing to learn about a new area of law, like cryptocurrency. When cryptocurrency became popular, there was no established expert. You can own the space at the firm in a new area by filling the void. You can demonstrate your expertise by writing about it to the public or by doing internal marketing within the firm.

Glatter also recommended finding a champion (someone in power who thinks that the firm is better off to have you there). She also recommended lawyers to care about the firm beyond the employee mentality. For example, you can identify a problem in the firm and improve it.

With respect to time management, Glatter said that we should be strategic with our use of time. Our brains can focus for 90 minutes and then our brains need a 20 minute break. If you are working on a complex problem, do it exclusively. Then rest for 20 minutes by not working on a complex problem. Also, do the “bad tasks” first in the day. For example, make the phone call you don’t want to do, work on the factum you don’t want to write, etc.

Glatter also recommended the “touch it once” idea. Do not repeatedly reread emails and voicemails. Answer it and move on. Multitasking doesn’t work. Work on one item at a time. Get rid of any alerts that drag attention away from the task at hand. She recommended that we watch “ADHD – Not Just For Kids” (The Nature of Things – September 23, 2017). If your office is disorganized, you are late consistently, you are disorganized, then you may have adult ADHD. It presents differently than ADHD in children.

Lawyer Daniel Naymark spoke about his path to starting his own law firm. He recommended that we work on building a large social network. His motto is to be social, be nice, and do good work.

He identified a demographic (which sorts of people will refer him work). He identified the type of work he likes. He identified the kind of people he likes being around. He noted that some lawyers get their clients from institutional clients, others from ethnocultural communities, and others from professionals referring work (e.g. lawyers, accountants).

He also recommended that people keep themselves top of mind for their referral network. He keeps a track record of when he contacted people last. He sends people a note to check in (for example, “I read your case in the O.R.s. Congratulations). He also recommended that we do not let our position in litigation infect our demeanour.

Paulette Pommells, career coach, spoke about personal branding. A brand is a set of expectations and stories that account for the consumer’s decision to pick one product over another. She advised that 82% of clients’ decisions in choosing you as their lawyer is the combination of competence and warmth.

Paulette recommended asking clients in consultations: what are your goals, what do you want from the process, and what are your fears.

Lina Duque spoke about social media for lawyers. She recommended finding a niche (who is my audience and who I want to tell them). Spell out the value you provide to them.

Lina provided a checklist for your social media profile. You should identify your professional title, your area of expertise, your firm Twitter handle, your personal interests, a disclaimer about legal advice, and you should use a hashtag if applicable. You should also add a link to your website so people can find you.

When creating your social media content, you should curate content of value. For example, share stories that are related to your sector, your firm news, your successes, your articles, use hashtags and look for information that can help other people. Don’t be afraid to engage in conversations with people on Twitter. You can bypass traditional hierarchies in the corporate world and speak directly to someone.  It can accelerate networking. The more we share, the more we invite connections. Networks are the breading grounds of opportunity.

You should also monitor your online reputation. Set up a Google alert. Before posting, ask yourself:  is it true, does it add value to my target audience, is it aligned with my personal brand, and does it comply with your employer’s social media policies. Do not post articles or opinions adverse to your clients. Do not troll people. Do not engage trolls.

Make engagement a daily habit. 5 minutes per day is better than 30 minutes one day a week. Twitter is busiest Monday to Thursday from 1pm to 3pm. LinkedIn is busiest from 7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm during the week.

(Views are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization.)

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