Leveraging your Reputation: Get involved

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Some people tend to think of work as separate from their hobbies and interests, but you can actually help your reputation through the activities that you get involved in outside of work. If you know what you love to do and are active in organizations and groups, then you can benefit from participating in your community. It won’t seem like you’re working because you’re enjoying what you’re doing, but you could see some positive results in your own professional life.

Here are a few ways to follow your passion and help your reputation:

1 – Speak. If you’re part of an organization in your community, or are involved in your kids’ schools and extra-curricular activities, offer to give a speech or an informal talk that will help people improve their own lives. By offering to speak to a group, you’ll become a kind of community expert ready with helpful tips. And you never know who you’ll meet: a potential client or even someone from the media. There are a number of freelance writers who are looking for experts and sources for their stories, and they could be one of the parents at the next soccer game that you go to.

2 – Join. If you know what you’re interested in, whether it’s a sport, language, cultural topic, handicraft, music, or whatever, there’s a group or class out there that you can join. It gets you away from the stress of work and other responsibilities, but it’s also a great way to meet other people while you’re pursuing what you’re interested in. You never know who you’ll meet, and who they know.

3 – Tell others. When you get involved in a fundraising walk or a project that helps disadvantaged people, tell others about it in your blog, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever you communicate with people online. It’s not about boasting, but about letting people know that you’re excited about helping others. Such volunteer activities let your clients and colleagues know that you’re multi-dimensional, that you’re not just about work. So helping others is not just good for the community, but for your reputation as well.

What’s important to remember is to not be pushy or try to aggressively market yourself to others who you meet outside of work. Just enjoy yourself and be open to meeting others, and you’ll make new contacts naturally. And remember to have your business cards handy, just in case.

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