At a recent CDS webinar, Women in Legal Ops & Tech: Taking Initiative and Setting Your Own Course, Michele Kell, Director, Enterprise Operations at CDS led a panel discussion among several women leaders who discussed real-world examples of women taking control of their professional trajectory by launching new initiatives, developing mentor/mentee relationships, accessing/establishing training programs, and networking in a digital world.
Here are some highlights from their conversation.
Establishing your professional brand
Nicole Guyer, Senior Consultant, CDS
I work in our Managed Services division where we support a lot of our corporate and law firm clients. I’m a senior consultant on that team, so I work closely with our project managers and our key stakeholders to ensure that our clients are happy, satisfied, and all projects go smoothly.
I’m going to talk about a few things today, the first is establishing a professional or personal brand for yourself. We hear a lot about this, and what it all comes down to is creating a reputation for yourself. I feel like that is something that is so important and will carry you throughout the entire course of your career and the interactions that you have with colleagues, clients and business partners. I want to just talk about how you can operationalize that both inside your organization with your colleagues and clients, and then of course, outside of your organization with your network, especially in a COVID or post-COVID world where we are doing a lot of our networking virtually.
I guess the first step is to really think about who you are as a person, what matters to you, what makes you get out of the bed every day to go to work beyond just a paycheck. What do you want from your career? And then, how can you take those values and express that at work?
One of the things that I like to do is observe people that I have great respect for that I’ve worked with either as a client or maybe a boss or a coworker. I really just try to mirror their behavior. I think you can gain a lot by observing other people and adapting some of the behaviors that you admire.
Because we don’t all have the answers. You can learn something from each person that you come in contact with. In terms of operationalizing this, and the ways you can do that inside your organization is one, get out there, make your name known and try to participate in as many events as possible.
At CDS, I’ve written blogs for our blog series. I’ve participated in these webinars. I try to participate in new initiatives at CDS to really just put my name out there. The other thing is being very pleasant. No one wants to work with someone that’s cold. I always think that it’s really important to be kind to your colleagues. One way to do that is to establish relationships with new coworkers or coworkers who are more junior. So, anytime someone new joins the managed services team, which is the team that I’m on at CDS, I always let them know right off the bat, that they can come to me with any question, no matter how big or small, and then also just make sure to check in on them. Starting a new job is already difficult enough in a remote environment when you haven’t met anyone in person. It comes down to the golden rule. Treat others as you would like others to treat you.
Also think about how your relationships with current coworkers are going to carry over into the future. Recently, I was working on a project with a former coworker that I had worked with almost 10 years ago. So, think about the impression you’re leaving on someone, so when you do interact in the future, will they want to work with you? Will they want to work with you at your organization? Once you establish your reputation at work, the second is in regard to your clients.
For me, it’s really approaching your work with a holistic mindset. Think about the client experience, how will this message come across to your clients? Will they be receptive? How can you provide answers to questions that they didn’t know they even had, or think ahead about what information you can provide them that you’re pretty sure they’re going to need? So be 10 steps ahead of them.
I like to have this attitude because I feel like it produces quality work, it shows that you’re not just looking at the task or the project at hand. Because if you have that narrow mindset, it’s really hard to excel. So, you really need to consider what your clients’ experience is, whether you’re a service provider or a corporate or law firm client. Or if you’re in-house with a law firm and your clients are the attorneys that you work with, you want to be trustworthy, make them want to come back and work with you. After establishing your reputation with clients, the next way to establish your brand or your reputation is of course, outside of your company, within the legal industry, or within our industry. This was obviously much easier a year ago when we could attend conferences, go to in person networking events, when it was easier to establish one-on-one relationships.
Set a google alert about yourself.
One of the things that you can do right off the bat is establish or set a Google alert about yourself. Make sure the public information on the internet about you is something that you’re fine with displaying to your colleagues. I read a statistic, something like 80% of people will Google you if you’re working in a professional capacity. Again, I think Nikki’s going to talk a lot more about this, but interacting on LinkedIn, actively responding to other people’s posts. So, you can also just put posts up yourself, so that way, you’re at the top of someone’s LinkedIn feed, but also just actively commenting or asking questions about other people’s posts is a great way to ensure interaction. So definitely get involved virtually.
The last thing I wanted to talk about was participating in new initiatives. I know at CDS, we created a new tool called CDS Convert, which converts chat data to relativity short message format (RSMF), and we also just launched CDS Vision, which is a data visualization tool. I promoted these tools to my clients, because I really felt they would add value to their operation. These new tools bring in business for the company, adds value for the clients, and you’re learning something new.
We’re in the technology space – you have to continue to grow.
The takeaway is just be super eager, super positive. Really consider how people view you, and if you’re someone that they’re going to want to work with again. I think those are good steps to really establishing a good brand for yourself.
Michele Kell, Director, Enterprise Operations, CDS
Thank you, Nicole. I love the mentor-mentee relationship part. I think as we’re remote, it’s hard to check in with people. I’ve told the story before, when I’d walk into the office, I could have a touch point quickly with 10 people…hi, how are you doing, how are you feeling, and you share a connection from that. When you’re remote, you have to make concerted efforts to make sure you’re checking in with people and building that relationship. I think it’s great that you set that up for yourself, when new people are joining CDS and you’re reaching out. I think that’s good for all of us as managers, as coworkers to be checking in with each other and making sure you’re doing that.
And again, for me, I manage so many people, but I could walk in a room and have that quick touchpoint with 10 people, and now I have to do 10 separate reach outs, and that can be difficult. But I think it is about setting your own course and taking initiative by reaching out to your employees. I think the mentor mentee relationship is important as women in this industry and anyone in this industry. It’s really important to have that connection and help each other grow.
Continue on to read Part 3 of the blog series, Growing Your Network, Virtually
About CDS’ Women in Legal Operations & Technology Webinar Series
In 2020, we began a conversation with a group of women in legal operations and technology, exploring how the pandemic had impacted office culture, career trajectories and gender dynamics. We continue to cultivate the dialogue to see how these changes ultimately take shape, venturing deeper into specific topics while maintaining a candid, conversational tone. We encourage women in the profession to join us to share your experiences and grow your network.