“Don’t post bathing suit pictures.”
That’s what my ex-boss told me, point-blank. I had been posting some marketing videos to my Instagram account for a few months. My audience was starting to grow. I had hit the 10K mark. I was getting great feedback from other professionals, people in the industry, and potential clients about how much they enjoyed my content and found it helpful.
Most importantly, I was beginning to bring clients into the firm and had more leads brewing.
Yet here I was, getting instructions on social media marketing from someone who had never marketed on social media, never got on video, never built an audience, and never created content.
Of course, I understood his perception and concern. Traditionally, women lawyers were not supposed to be too attractive, admit that they had a family life, or wear anything other than a suit. Women in professional industries were essentially supposed to be the female-version of traditional male counterparts circa 1970.
But a new wave of professionals is swelling—a tidal wave of modern professional women.
It probably comes as no surprise that I no longer work for the law firm who told me to stop posting personal content.
I launched my own law firm in October 2020, using social media as my sole way to generate business. By the end of 2021, I had built my firm into a 7-figure company.
Originally, I started posting law-related videos to my personal Instagram account because I knew that my family, friends, and acquaintances would be the people most likely to work with me or to send me referrals at first. But also because I didn’t want to over-complicate and over-work myself by having two Instagram accounts.
As I continued to post my personal life with my videos about home insurance law, I noticed that my personal content would get more engagement than my law content (I mean, how exciting can I really make leaking roofs sound?).
Often I would post a photo of recent travel or a video with an inspirational message, and someone would comment, sparking a conversation about working together or referring cases to me, and ending in a new client for my firm.
It hit me that people want to work with real people. Gone are the days of the serious professional sitting behind a big mahogany desk and ancient-looking books, who only speaks to you once or twice and never answers the phone.
People want to feel like they know you.
Share that you settled a big case just before attending your kid’s soccer game. Tell people that you love horseback riding during a training on tax preparation. Show that you finalized a client’s deal on the way to your weekly yoga class.
I guarantee that you’ll get a response from someone who also has kids in soccer, or who loves equestrian sports, or who wants to start a yoga practice. These individuals will feel a stronger connection with you, now that you have something in common or that they know more about you than just “what you do.”
This begins to build a strong network of potential clients and referral sources. In my experience, people who have a more personal connection with you are more likely to work with you when they need your services, or to refer someone who does.
This is especially true for women.
Unfortunately, there may still be bias and prejudice between a man professional and a woman professional. The (hopefully subconscious) tendency is for people to think that a man is more skilled or capable than a woman of equal experience, but connection is a unique tool. By sharing your personal life along with professional accomplishments, you have the opportunity to create a stronger bridge between you and a client, colleague, or lead.
If someone feels like they know you personally, that’s a pretty powerful reason to work with you or send you business over the unknown man in a suit. (Obviously, men can also share their personal lives, but I’m speaking specifically about how this strategy works for women.)
The wave of modern professional women is growing.
When I started in this industry, barely any women lawyers were sharing content on social media, and almost none of them were sharing their personal lives or personal characteristics. The majority of professionals on social media were male lawyers, mainly personal injury “TV personality” types.
Now, there are countless women lawyers, accountants, doctors, nurses, engineers, saleswomen, and other professionals on social media sharing their work, their kids, spouses, favorite movies and food, and even themselves working in sweatpants—and getting things done.
Every day we see women who are less “professional” in the traditional sense—no pantsuits, no stiff headshots, no female-version of male professionals—but also no less successful.
The woman who shares her morning coffee in sweatpants? She just helped a client drastically increase their financial portfolio. The woman sharing walks with her dog every afternoon? She settled a clients’ case for 2x the original offer. We can do both. We can be both.
We’re normalizing professional women having personal lives.
The more we see something, the more normal it becomes. We’ve seen successful men running large corporations for centuries. When we see another corporation take on a new male CEO, no one bats an eye. When a company takes on a female CEO—or better yet, a company is started by a female—that seems like a big deal… for now.
Similarly, as we see more and more women share their professional work and their personal lives, it will become normal, and even more women will continue to work and share, work and share. Women will no longer have to be the overly professional, female-version-of-a-man to be successful.