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Overcoming Content Paralysis: How to Boost Your Personal Brand Without Falling into the Perfectionist Trap
Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Have you ever been caught in the grips of content paralysis? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us have experienced this frustrating loop—meticulously editing, rewording and reorganizing our thoughts to achieve “perfection.” This cycle is often driven by an underlying fear: fear of judgment, fear of imperfection and a daunting fear of visibility while our peers and competitors confidently march forward with their ideas.

In the early stages of developing my personal brand, I saw firsthand how my peers and competitors were gaining visibility and clients by sharing their insights and expertise. This was a stark wake-up call, highlighting that I was sidelining myself from important opportunities to make an impact, build my business and connect with my audience.

When Perfectionism Becomes Content Paralysis

Many lawyers are perfectionists, which can derail their content creation efforts and stand in their way of elevating their brand and their lead generation efforts. They’ll endlessly tinker with a piece of thought leadership (making rounds of additional changes and being unable to say it’s actually final) and wind up missing the boat on the right distribution time for it to reach their clients and prospects, resulting in the article losing its maximum impact. I call this content paralysis.

Because most client alerts are about developments in the law, every minute counts when it comes to distribution, especially when your competitors are writing about similar topics. Don’t let others beat you to it!

Busy in-house counsel have limited attention spans, especially for client alerts from law firms (just think about the sheer volume of content they receive each week), and while you want yours to be well written, thoughtful and succinct, you most importantly want to be timely. Also, some in-house counsel only open alerts from the law firms they use – so they are actually waiting for their outside counsel to update them on what they need to know to do their jobs better. Time is of the essence.

Why Is Overcoming Content Paralysis So Important?

Striving for perfection in your content can cause you to miss out on timely discussions and crucial opportunities to influence and engage. Each delay not only reduces the relevance of your contribution but also limits your ability to establish authority and thought leadership within your field.

Personally, I sit on articles when I am struggling with what to say. A combination of procrastination and perfectionism – and then throw in being too busy – can be a trifecta recipe for many of us to never get any writing done to further our personal branding and lead generation efforts.

The most important piece of advice I have for lawyers whose acute attention to detail and impeccably high standards leads to content paralysis is to do your best to not sit on an article and over edit it. Create and distribute content while the topic is hot. Please try to embrace the idea of good enough.

Here’s the thing: your good enough is going to be pretty darn excellent already, compared to the rest of the world. You simply can’t give 100% to everything 100% of the time anyway – don’t fall into the content paralysis trap. While you don’t ever want to sacrifice quality, your delay as you chase perfect means that, ultimately, you’re letting your competitors win client attention that you deserve.

Let’s change that!

How to Overcome Content Paralysis

Recognizing the detrimental effects of content paralysis is the first step. But how do you move beyond content paralysis and start making real progress in growing your personal brand? Here are some practical, actionable steps that helped me and might just help you too:

  1. Embrace Imperfection: The first step is to let go of the idea that your content needs to be flawless. Remember, you’re not trying to win a Pulitzer Prize! Your audience values authenticity and relevance more than polished prose. Sharing content that may not be perfect but is genuine and timely is far more valuable.
  2. Publish Timely Content: In many professions, particularly law, timing can be everything. Don’t sit on a piece of content because it isn’t perfect. If you have insights on a hot topic or a fresh perspective that can add value now, share it! Waiting too long can mean missing the moment entirely – and letting your competitors get the spotlight instead when you should be the one in the spotlight.
  3. Repurpose Your Content: Maximize the reach and utility of what you create by repurposing it across different platforms and formats. A blog post can become a series of tweets, a LinkedIn article or even a presentation for a webinar. This not only saves time but also ensures your message reaches a broader audience.
  4. Present Yourself Authentically: People connect with people, not just ideas. Presenting yourself authentically, sharing your true thoughts and being relatable will help build a stronger connection with your audience. This genuine approach can set you apart in a world full of curated personas.
  5. Block Out Time: A lawyer with whom I used to work blocks out time in her Outlook calendar to write as if it was an actual meeting. Committing this time to actually do the writing really works. Be realistic, but give yourself enough time (perhaps early in the day and in the late afternoon or evening – so that you have quiet space to think without the craziness of your hectic day-to-day getting in the way) to write and block out interruptions such as the pesky email alert in Outlook.
  6. Remember: Your Good is Good Enough: This might be the most important takeaway. Your ‘good enough’ can be someone else’s ‘excellent.’ Every time you share a piece of content, you are offering value from your unique perspective. Trust that what you know and what you have to say is worthwhile.

Once you start applying these principles, you’ll notice a shift. Not just in your output, but in your confidence and the growth of your personal brand. The less you overthink, overedit and overanalyze your content, the more you’ll find your voice resonating with those who matter most—your audience.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought I hope stirs up your competitive side. Many in-house counsel really do make the decision to hire outside counsel directly based on a piece of content written by a lawyer (they say as much, time and again, in GC panel discussions). So please get those alerts off your desk and in the hands of potential clients – they’re doing no one any good sitting in front of you.

Action creates confidence and taking imperfect action is better than doing nothing!

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