Four Memes That Can Keep You From Branding Yourself
Is personal branding for the birds? (No Twitter pun intended.)
I may be living in a bubble in Silicon Valley, but I am amazed by how many people think personal branding is not something they have to do. Memes, or cultural ideas and beliefs that we transmit to one another over time, might have something to do with it. There are four powerful memes that may be thwarting you from branding yourself.
1. “My work speaks for itself”
Do you believe that you don’t have to brand yourself because your work speaks for itself? Doing good work is an honorable objective, but a good work product does not necessarily guarantee that you’ll get the promotion, the job or the funding that you deserve.
2. “Personal branding is narcissistic”
This was essentially Drew Olanoff’s opinion in a 10/14/12 post on TechCrunch “Here’s to the Death of ‘Personal Branding’ on the Internet”:
“Personal branding is all about the person, as in it’s an extremely self-centered thing that doesn’t help anyone but yourself.” In other words, it’s selfish and narcissistic.
Drew is misguided. Here’s how I replied to his post:
“Those who think personal branding is all about them have got it all wrong. It’s about being of unique value to the world and communicating it in thought, word, deed and image. Instead of ‘self-promoting,’ try ‘educating’ the world and building authentic relationships.”
If you change your mindset from “me” to “we,” you will look for opportunities to share, engage, partner and add to the greater community. It is a win/win for both your personal brand and for the community that benefits from your unique viewpoint and talents. Think of it as brand education, not promotion.
3. “I don’t have the personality for branding myself”
Personal branding does not require that you have an extroverted personality. A big part of personal branding is creating the messages and image that help others to understand and value what you are all about. Message creation is not an extroverted versus introverted activity. It’s strategic.
On the other hand, communication and engagement may be more difficult for shy people. The Internet, however, is a great equalizer. A self-described geek recently told a crowd at MarketingCamp Silicon Valley that geeks used to be at a disadvantage for being socially awkward, but are now the cool heroes of the web. They understand the technology and rules of social media. Approaching others on the web is as easy as commenting on their blog, liking their Facebook post, or sharing their content.
4. “Social media is a waste of time”
If you believe this, you need to wake up and look around you. Social media is changing everything: how we communicate, engage, market, get the news, influence and, yes, brand. Social media has had a huge effect on how companies recruit for talent.
According to an 8/18/12 Mashable post, at least 90 percent of recruiters use social media to find, source and connect with candidates. If you can’t be found on the web, and don’t have a compelling image and reputation—hence, personal brand—you will lose out on job and business opportunities. I used LinkedIn almost exclusively in my last hire, demonstrating the importance of personal branding on LinkedIn.
So it’s your choice. You can take false comfort in memes that convince you not to brand yourself. Or you can embrace the new reality of social branding. Remember, communicating your personal brand is not just for your benefit, but also for the benefit of the world that can profit from your unique value.