A strong personal brand can help you win trust and build relationships with clients. Eric Sim, former UBS Investment Bank Managing Director and one of social media’s most-followed keynote speakers and career coaches, helps executives build their online presence and brand. We are delighted to have Eric join us to share his tips on how lawyers and legal professionals can build their online presence to achieve their business goals. A KOL (key opinion leader), Eric also shares his thought on opportunities for influencers in the legal industry.
KF: Katherine Fan (Managing Director, Hughes-Castell)
Eric: Eric Sim (Banker|Lecturer|Speaker|Writer)
KF: You have more than 2 million followers on LinkedIn! If you added 100 followers every day, it would have taken you 55 years to reach 2 million. You don’t look 55! How long did it take you to reach this many followers?
Eric: 5 years. I wrote my first article Chinese New Year of 2015 when I was based in HK and not traveling that few days. At that time, I had about a couple of hundred connections.
KF: Wow! Can you share your secrets?
Eric: Happy to, Katherine.
- I maintain a consistent profile across all social media. On Facebook and Instagram, my profile picture is still me in my navy blue suit and white shirt. WhatsApp’s default status is “Hey there! I am using WhatsApp” but mine is the same as my LinkedIn headline – “Banker | Lecturer | Speaker | Writer”.
- I try to be the same person both online and offline, it is too much work to create a completely different online persona. My analyst in investment banking asked me: “Why are you wearing Timex and not a Rolex?”, I replied: “I just like Timex more”. This is me offline, it is also me online.
- I post on LinkedIn Tue and Thu 745am consistently every week for the last few years.
- I also speak regularly at events and universities. These days I live stream my speeches. Just last month, I gave a talk on “personal branding” to more than 1000 people invited by CFA Institute APAC. Many followed me on social media after my speech.
- I often write about people. In a post last year, I wrote about a service staff at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong remembering my drink from my earlier visit – I thought that is bringing service standard to a whole new level. In another post, I wrote about celebrity chef, Joel Robuchon, and his signature dish – not caviar or white truffle pasta but mashed potato.
KF: How can lawyers leverage social media to expand network connections and maintain relationships with their contacts for business opportunities?
Eric: Posting useful and interesting content regularly can address availability heuristic, a cognitive bias in which people tend to rely on recent memory to make decision. For instance, if my clients or banking friends ask me for a legal counsel recommendation, I am likely to recommend a suitable lawyer I met in recent months. Since I don’t meet many people these days, I am now likely to recommend based who I have seen on social media.
If they don’t have time to post original content, lawyers can choose to engage with their clients and potential clients’ social media posts. This also strengthens client relationship.
KF: Do you think there are opportunities for influencers in the legal industry and, in your experience having worked as an investment banker and as an educator, what type of topics/content do you think would be of interest to lawyers and/or potential clients of lawyers?
Eric: Absolutely! Lots of opportunities for influencers in the legal industry.
I think readers will find lawyers’ social media post interesting given lawyers are usually good at languages. A potential fun post to explain “option” can go something like this: “It is like a serious relationship with a girlfriend/boyfriend. When you get married, you are exercising your option. Before you exercise your option, you can walk away at no cost barring the option fees (expensive diners) but after you exercise it, it is very costly to unwind, potentially half your net worth!”.
It will be fun and interesting to use legal terms like “pari passu” or “bona fide” in your social media posts to attract clients but the most powerful sharing tend to be posts that tell personal stories with universal applications.
KF: Any final advice for people wishing to be more active on social media, but unsure how to start?
Eric: 1. Non-work-related content can still attract clients. I post about career and life skills. My banking clients come to me to seek career advice for their children and their friends. When your engagement with clients goes beyond work, your relationship becomes stronger, it is only natural they come to you when they need legal advice.
2. Be consistent with your theme, try to choose one that you are passionate about.
3. Always add value to readers.
4. To be interesting online, try to engage in interesting activities offline. For example, giving a guest lecture at a university or learning how to create videos, both activities will make interesting posts..
5. On social media, facts tell, stories sell.
Thank you for having me Katherine! Your readers are welcome to reach out to me on LinkedIn if they have any questions on personal branding.