Elon Law alumna shares advice for building personal brands

Jennifer Hoverstad L’11 visited her law school alma mater on September 9 to open a fall trimester speaker series aimed at helping students prepare for their future roles in the legal profession.

Your followers. And who you follow.

Your posted pictures and the comments you leave online.

Even your email signature.

Jennifer Hoverstad L’11 can cite the many ways, on any given day, that students “brand” themselves to prospective employers, prospective clients, and the public. Some happens in person with handshakes and eye contact, she said. But a lot happens on social media.

In fact, Hoverstad told Elon Law students this week, 70 percent of companies check social media before hiring an applicant. And if you’re a lawyer, an even higher percentage of prospective clients are also going to learn more about you from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social platforms.

“They want to know who we are,” said Hoverstad, an estate planning attorney for The Forrest Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. “They want to know what we stand for. They want to know what we believe. Social media can be that critical tool for you to build immediate rapport with people you otherwise wouldn’t build rapport with.”

Professionalism. Personal brands. Networking. All were components of a lunch hour presentation on September 9 for dozens of students who filled Room 105 to hear from an Elon Law alum who has built a reputation – while earning her firm thousands of dollars each month in referrals just from Facebook – by cultivating social media audiences.

Hoverstad delivered her talk, “Maximize Your Message,” as the opening program for Elon Law’s Preparing for the Profession Speaker Series hosted this fall by the law school’s Office of Career & Student Development.

More than anything, Hoverstad said, think about any message or idea you want to share on social media. What do you want to say? where are you going to say it? How are you going to say it? And why?

Then be authentic.

“Do you love animals? Do you love kids? Do you love what you’re doing in Elon? What obstacles have you overcome?” said Hoverstad, who has blogged and shared online her own experience surviving breast cancer – and, in the process, built an audience with thousands of people who have been inspired to face their own battles when they read of her own journey.

“So often we dismiss those things. We choose not to talk about them because they’re difficult for us,” she added. “Ultimately, what are your goals? Where are you trying to go?”

Just be sure to use professional portraits for social media profile images, she suggests. And make your cover photo look nice, too.