Is Personal Branding Important?

This is a guest post by Lior Levin, if you want to guest post on this blog, please contact us.

What is personal branding? Personal branding is something everyone in business and marketing wants to do, but many fear that it cannot be done well.

In terms of marketing, branding helps a business focus on what defines their services and products and sets them apart from the competition. In the business world, branding can be extremely helpful. However, for a business professional, the notion of personal branding may seem like a bridge too far.

Does personal branding lead to selling out or effective communication?

What is the Goal of Branding?

Personal Branding

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Perhaps semantics get in the way of discussing personal branding. To a certain extent the goal of personal branding is to communicate to others what you can do better than anyone else. Your brand includes your reputation and the day to day skills and results you achieve.

To a certain degree we engage in personal branding already with how we dress, what we drive, and how we interact with colleagues and customers. Personal branding has gained traction with the prevalence of social media, though it’s a topic that dates back to Tom Peters’ article “Brand You.”

Is Personal Branding Necessary?

Personal Branding

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Perhaps you’ve always worked hard. You have a great reputation and a solid resume. Do you really need to think about personal branding?

In certain industries a personal brand may not pay off right away, but consider Robert Scoble, formerly of Microsoft. Scoble worked at Microsoft, but he built his personal brand by interacting with customers as himself, not as a faceless Microsoft employee. When it came time to part ways with Microsoft, all of the networking he’d done as an employee at Microsoft migrated with him to his future projects.

This migratory nature of today’s business climate is perhaps the most important reason to develop a brand for yourself. Reporter Shira Lazar says, “The workplace has become fluid, with young people in particular attaching themselves to one-off projects or events.”

In addition, if you hope to advance your career, many businesses are using social media to find new talent. What they look for is someone who embodies what they’re looking for—namely, the right brand (read “kind”) of person. According to Dan Schawbel, the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success and owner of the Personal Branding Blog, “The social graph is filled with CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs and people just like you who can be reached through Facebook’s messaging system without any boundaries or restrictions. Facebook is also a talent search engine and part of the college admission and corporate recruiting criteria.”

Schawbel also points out that personal branding is too accessible to ignore it. “Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and have enabled us to reach incredible heights, at the cost of our time.” (Learn more at his article Personal Branding 101)

How Are We Branding Ourselves?

Personal Branding

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If you’re ready to give personal branding a shot, keep in mind that a brand is all about identity and communication. Tom Peters makes the following suggestion about creating your personal brand:

“Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?”

Once you figure out your personal “elevator pitch” for who you are what you are, think of ways you can let it influence your communication, marketing, work, and networking. Jason Keith of Vista Print suggests, “Stay consistent: if you’ve worked hard to come up with a custom logo, marketing tagline or specific messaging in your marketing materials, make sure you’re always using it, reinforcing it and not changing it.”

When Does Personal Branding Go Too Far?

Personal Branding

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Personal branding is tricky, and therefore it’s critical to be aware of the ways that it can go wrong.

Aiming for thousands of shallow connections rather than building up several hundred solid connections may well do very little to advance your career. It may even hurt it. Are you connecting as a person with real desires, fears, and dreams? Or are you just trying to get links, follows, and a higher Klout score?

Then again, we can go in the opposite direction.

Shira Lazar shares about her fellow journalists, “We’re transparent and don’t feel the need to hide.” However, we can cross lines by sharing to much of our family business with our social network. Professional boundaries are critical when building your personal brand.

Inevitably a personal brand may be perceived as inauthentic no matter how hard you try. Ben Yoskovitz of Year One Labs suggests that telling the truth about who you are and what you do can be bold and audacious so long as you tell the truth about yourself. In other words, be yourself, not a marketing parody of yourself.

Another drawback to personal branding is the sheer amount of time it consumes, especially if you’re using social media in order to build your brand with new connections. Social network marketing as part of brand building is the most time-consuming form of marketing.

As you commit yourself to making new connections and communicating who you are, don’t lose sight of the projects you need to do. In that case you’d be all talk and no action.

Personal branding is a process where we learn how to talk about ourselves and what we do. Provided it’s an authentic representation of who you are, you may find the personal branding process liberating.

About the Author

Lior Levin is an online marketing advisor. Lior advises to a customized cancer treatment startup from Boston and also to a pre shipment inspection services company that works from China.

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  1. […] Is Personal Branding Important? […]

  2. MoodeyIT says

    Really nice post, I agree with the pro’s and con’s of both side’s of the discussion, I personally think personal branding is very important for people in small businesses.

  3. Thương hiệu says

    Thanks for sharing. Personal branding is very important for business ^^

  4. Eko S says

    @Thương hiệu: Thanks for the comment, I think so..because that’s what makes you different with your competitors. 🙂

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