• July 2013

Ignore the Naysayers: 8 Reasons Why Personal Branding Won’t Work for You

By Valli Swerdlow
Valli Associates

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You can hardly open a business magazine or search for business news on the Internet without stumbling on the term “personal branding.”

So what is all the buzz about?

In fact, personal branding is not a new term. “In Search of Excellence” author Tom Peters is attributed with bringing it to the attention of management and corporate America through a 1997 article he wrote in Fast Company magazine, entitled, A Brand Called You.

The concept has gained momentum at a dizzying pace in recent years, so much so that today there are certified personal-brand strategists and a cadre of other experts on the subject.

Branding is essential, and a personal brand is much more than what you think and say about yourself.

  • It’s what the marketplace thinks of you.
  • It’s not an extension of an employer’s brand.
  • It must be uniquely yours—even though there may be some things in common between your brand and your employer’s. (This can get dicey if you’re a consultant—aka: a solopreneur—because there can be a fine line between where your company’s brand ends and the person begins.)

So how do you develop a personal brand?

The only way to get your personal brand is to create it yourself. And therein lies the problem. Many careerists question whether personal branding is worth the time and effort that it requires. I’ve summed up the naysayers’ reasons why branding won’t work in the list below. Please ignore them!

Eight Reasons Why Personal Branding Won’t Work for You.

1. You don’t want to be found. You don’t like people to know who you are and what you have to offer. You don’t want to risk being judged.

2. You don’t believe in differentiating yourself. It’s more comfortable for you to blend in and not call too much attention to yourself.

3. You define your competition narrowly. You believe that your competitors are in the private or public sector, ignoring other groups that are equally competitive.

4. Personal branding sounds too gimmicky. You believe that branding is an appropriate strategy for companies like Apple, Starbucks, and Proctor & Gamble, but not for a person.

5. You like your old-fashioned resume. You love to use words like “managed,” “oversaw,” and “directed” in your resume, even though these were popular five to 10 years ago.

6. You hope that the Internet is a passing trend. Tweeting, blogging, creating personal websites, and generating Internet content in videos and online radio interviews sounds great for other people, but not for you.

7. You like having your eggs in one basket. You prefer to distribute your resume to HR professionals, recruiters, and career fair reps, and that’s it.

8. You don’t trust personal brand experts. For example, I am a consultant with 15+ years of experience as an executive search recruiter combined with executive leadership and career coaching. But you don’t know me. And, you don’t trust me.

Crazy, right?

In today’s competitive marketplace, the old ways aren’t as effective as they used to be. Careerists need a new strategy that will put them at the forefront, and, today, that strategy is personal branding.

Why Personal Branding Works

The #1 reason that personal branding works is because LinkedIn and other Internet sites give you an opportunity to communicate not only your experience and training, but also:

  • What you stand for
  • Your reputation, and
  • How others see you

That makes it easy for prospective clients, partners, and employers to see whether you’re a good fit for their needs. And of course, social media sites provide an easy and convenient way for others to connect with you, while reinforcing your message.

If you’re actively searching for a job, consider this:

  • Today’s prospective employers want to collect background information on you before moving forward.
  • They’ll search for you on Google and LinkedIn – and perhaps even on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
  • Whom do you think they’ll call first for a face-to-face interview, all other things being equal (such as years of experience, training, and skill sets)? When would it ever be the candidate who doesn’t have an Internet presence?

Obviously, prospective employers lean towards candidates with an appealing personal brand—for instance, someone who is listed online as a conference presenter, a go-to-industry leader, a volunteer for worthy causes, and who has a professional photograph on LinkedIn.

This is a no-brainer.

In his book, ”Career Distinction,” author William Arruda suggests that you can stand out in a competitive marketplace by communicating the “three C’s” of branding to your target audience. These are:

  • Clarity. Express your unique promise of value.
  • Consistency. Communicate your consistent brand message through the content and style of your communication, and
  • Constancy. Communicate frequently.

Here’s the kicker:

As valuable as personal branding is to make you more competitive (and it is), the self-knowledge you’ll gain through the process is even more valuable. And that alone is worth buzzing about.

About Valli Swerdlow

Valli Swerdlow is a keynote speaker and trainer, Certified 360° Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Leadership and BABY VOOMER™ Career Coach. She partners with Baby Boomer executives to make both mindful and heartfelt career transitions that have an enduring impact on their lives and communities. She leverages her enterprising spirit, resources, and creative approach to inspire her clients to achieve vantage, vitality, and victory. She also wears a purple streak in her hair. Learn more at Valli Associates.