Market yourself like a business with insights, storytelling and CRM

If other people are the key to your success, what’s the best way to build professional relationships? Rachel Brushfield shares how in-house lawyers can use business techniques to create career opportunities for themselves.
A woman with blonde hair, dressed in business casual, smiles in front of a room of people, holding a clipboard.
Photograph: miniseries

For in-house lawyers, it’s true that other people are the key to your success.

Gaining influence within an organisation can be a challenge and getting people on side is an important step to a pay rise, promotion or just greater recognition.

Although you might be an employee, a helpful way to market yourself to stakeholders is to think of yourself like a business, and market yourself like one.

But if you’re a new in-house lawyer, or if you’re feeling disconnected from the business, where do you begin?

Identifying your clients – or stakeholders – is the first place to start.

In-house lawyers have only one client – their business. Right?

In fact, you will have multiple clients: stakeholders working in their own legal department and in various other departments around the business.

You should think what the best approach would be to market yourself effectively and efficiently by influencing and engaging your internal stakeholders, to give yourself the edge and increase the likelihood of success in your in-house career.

Who are your career stakeholders?

Internal stakeholders are the people who directly or indirectly influence decisions about your development and training, pay rise, and other rewards, promotions and career-enhancing opportunities at work and in your career.

Internal stakeholders can include:

  • your manager
  • the directors (the board in the UK and internationally, if your employer is a global company, non-executive directors)
  • the HR manager
  • PAs to the board
  • mentors to decision-makers
  • key respected influencers and opinion-formers in the market in which your organisation operates
  • alumni (former managers and directors who are working elsewhere, for example)

In-depth knowledge of your key stakeholders will help you to engage with them to support your development and career progression

What is insight?

An insight is ‘the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something’.

Insights are useful in stakeholder engagement, because they make the communication targeted and relevant so that they hit the mark.

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is essential when influencing others.


Storytelling is simply communicating a message through a narrative, and it’s a growing part of marketing.

Storytelling is effective because it shows a potential client why a product is worth investing in a way that is meaningful, rather than simply telling them.

Insights can be used to decipher what message you need to convey through storytelling techniques.

Insights inform and shape communication. What insights do you have about your career stakeholders?

Insights include what motivates them, what is important to them, their role models, hobbies and even the charities they support and why.

You could gather insights in a notebook. I recommend the Evernote app – you can store anything in there, and find it in future by a keyword or phrase search (the person’s name, for example).

Social media platforms, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, can be a useful source of deeper insight into people.

On LinkedIn, you can see their connections and companies they follow; their groups; posts that they like, comment on and share; even the articles they write.

On Twitter, you can see who they follow and the hashtags they use.

A strategic way of storing insights that can bring years’ worth of benefits is by using a CRM.

What is CRM?

Customer relationship management, or CRM, is an approach to managing a company’s interaction with both current and potential customers.

It uses data analysis of customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on retention, with the ultimate aim of driving sales growth.

You can apply the principles of CRM to manage and focus your communication with key internal stakeholders to help progress your career, recording insights.

At its simplest, CRM can be a Word document or Excel spreadsheet summarising information about an individual stakeholder.

Why is CRM useful?

CRM creates a structure and focus to plan, manage and monitor your communications with key internal stakeholders.

CRM enables the efficient storage and easy updating of relevant information, to record the timing of planned communications with stakeholders, for example: before an AGM, performance review discussion or the preparation of the annual report.

Reminders can be set up to deliver follow-up communications to create a positive cumulative effect.

Notifications by text or email will ensure that you don’t miss those rare important opportunities to influence key stakeholders. This can be easy to do when you’re busy and haven’t planned ahead.

Going the extra mile by using a strategic and intelligent approach to gather insights, storing information in a CRM system (however sophisticated) and planning your communication with key stakeholders will reap rewards over time. It could be what sets you apart and clinches your next promotion or pay rise.

Start today by choosing one of the following tips to get the ball rolling.

Seven practical tips for smarter stakeholder engagement

  1. Define a career goal, for example: a pay rise or a promotion
  2. Identify who your stakeholders are – you could make a mind-map – and connect with them on LinkedIn
  3. Check your organisation’s business and financial planning cycle to plan key dates – ask if you can help or be part of a project team, to raise your profile internally
  4. Research your organisation’s performance review process and rewards cycle, if you haven’t already
  5. Diarise specific times to email or speak with key stakeholders. Getting to know their PA or secretary (if they have one) is a good way to find out the best times
  6. Understand the values and competency framework of your organisation. This will help you to demonstrate the behaviours expected by your employer so that when talent committees meet to discuss promotions and rewards, you are ahead of the game
  7. Look through the last five annual reports of your organisation to identify key insights and business priorities

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS