People who know me well describe me as creative, inspiring, and a visionary. Do you know how I know this? Because I’ve asked them through a confidential leading web-based 360° personal brand survey/assessment that helps you get the real story about how you are perceived by those around you. It gives you the critical feedback you need so that you can expand your career or business success. You see, I eat, drink and sleep personal branding, ever since I became a Certified Personal Branding Strategist.
As a career coach, I recently presented Eight Reasons Personal Branding Won’t Work For You! at a Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) pre-conference networking event. I thought it might be challenging to get military officers to buy into the concept of personal branding. I was also preparing for an upcoming interview on Spreecast, a web cast. I was trying to come up with strategies that would immediately engage my audience’s attention for the topic of personal branding, especially if they might be resistant to the idea.
Then one night, I woke up with the song, “I Say a Little Prayer” in my head. You know the tune that Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick made into hits in the 60’s and 80’s? Thinking about branding, and thinking about the song, I came up with this parody of the lyrics:
The moment I wake up,
Before I put on my make up,
I’m thinkin’ personal branding’s for me.
While combing my hair now,
And wonderin’ what dress to wear now,
I’m thinkin’ personal branding’s for me.
I debuted the song on Spreecast when I was interviewed about personal branding by television journalist Eszter Vajda. My singing seemed to take her by surprise, especially because I belted out this tune right at the start of my interview. If you’d like to hear me, here’s the link to the interview:
Why did I sing this parody? To make a point. Personal branding is for you. That’s true whether you’re a careerist moving up in your present organization or if you’re in career transition (or contemplating a move).
Not convinced? OK. Let me take the same tack I took in my program for military officers. Let’s consider eight reasons why personal branding won’t work for you.
Eight Reasons Why Personal Branding Won’t Work for You
- 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.
- You don’t believe in differentiating yourself. It’s more comfortable for you to blend in and not call too much attention to yourself.
- You define your competition narrowly. You believe that your competitors are in the private or public sector, ignoring other groups that are equally competitive.
- Personal branding sounds too gimmicky. You believe that branding is an appropriate strategy for a company like Apple, Starbucks, or Proctor & Gamble, but not for a person. Perhaps personal branding sounds touchy-feely, or like a bunch of hooey to you.
- You like your old-fashioned resume. You believe that bullet points highlighting your skills and accomplishments starting with words like: *Managed, *Oversaw, *Directed, etc., which were popular five to ten years ago, are all you need to snag a great job. Good is no longer good enough!
- You hope that the Internet is a passing trend. Tweeting, blogging, creating personal websites, or generating Internet content in videos and online radio interviews sounds great for other people, but not for you.
- 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.
- You don’t trust me. I may have 15+ years of experience as an executive search recruiter, executive leadership and career coach, and personal brand strategist. But you don’t know me. And, if we ever met, the purple streak in my hair would give you pause.
The #1 Reason Personal Branding Works
Now you can see that my eight reasons why personal branding won’t work was a clever way for me to present my message in favor of personal branding. But would you like to know the #1 reason personal branding does work? It works 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 employers to see whether you’re a good fit to their needs. And of course, social media sites provide an easy and convenient way for them to connect with you, while reinforcing your message.
Today, prospective employers want to get 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. Who do you think they’ll call first for a face-to-face interview, all things being equal (such as years of experience, training, and skill sets)? Would it be the candidate who doesn’t have an Internet presence? Or would a prospective employer lean towards a candidate who is listed 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.
Job candidates need to be visible to their prospective employers, plain and simple. In the book, Career Distinction, author William Aruda suggests that you can stand out in a competitive field 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.
An online presence that conveys your personal brand will do precisely that.
The Power of Attracting Others to You
I’d like to leave you with two examples of how personal branding can attract people to you, rather than you having to beat down their doors.
First, I recently presented the keynote address at the annual conference of NASW-MD (the National Association of Social Workers, Maryland). One of the first questions I ask whenever I receive an invitation such as this one is, “How did you find me?” The president of the NASW-MD board was researching prospective keynote speakers and noticed the MSW after my name in my LinkedIn profile, as well as we had mutual contacts in common. That’s what made the organization reach out to me.
A second example: Joe, a retired army colonel with 25 years of service, started partnering with me four months before his last day in the military. He went through my personal branding process, after hearing me speak at a Military Association of America (MOAA) career-networking event, and the results were reflected in updating both his professionally branded resume and LinkedIn profile. Joe had 12 interviews within three month, two stellar offers with great perks, and started within 6 months of his career search. Although having to start from scratch networking and building up his civilian contacts, his effort to convey his brand as being an expert, visionary leader and self-starter paid off. Joe is happy with the job he chose at a top Fortune 100 consulting firm.
Your parents or grandparents may have been assured a job for 25–35 years. That’s not the case today. Now, you must control your reputation and communicate clearly what you stand for and what differentiates you from others. Only then can you ensure that you’ll be employable and have choices throughout your career. That’s what personal branding is all about.
Valli Swerdlow is a humorous and witty nationally known keynote speaker/trainer, Certified 360° Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Leadership and BABY VOOMER (TM) Career Coach. Valli partners with baby boomer executives to make both mindful and heartfelt career transitions that have an enduring impact in 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. Email: Valli@ValliAssociates.com. Phone: 703-615-3834.