Personal branding is one my absolute greatest pet peeves. I’ve tried in vain to run away from all mentions of it, avoid any sort of person who teaches it and ridicule the idea as much as humanly possible.
But I can’t get away. No matter how many times we in the industry may scoff at the idea, personal branding is real and people are interested in learning about how to be better. I’ve been asked by ASU Lodestar Center to give a presentation on this very topic (I have lots of “what not to do” stories) and would like to share with you my thoughts on how all of this works.
Personal Branding Rule #1
Find something you can do that people will pay for.
Personal Branding Rule #2
Become extremely familiar with the topic/service/product you provide.
Personal Branding Rule #3
Do that thing really, really well.
Personal Branding Rule #4
Live, eat, sleep and breathe that thing.
Personal Branding Rule #5
Change when necessary.
And the three anti rules:
Personal Branding Anti Rule #1
What you are good at, what you love to do and what people pay you to do might be three different things. Don’t forcibly combine them.
Personal Branding Anti Rule #2
Promoting yourself is NOT personal branding. It’s self promotion.
Personal Branding Anti Rule #3
There is no spoon.
The simple premise is that if you want to be seen as a green PR expert, you should talk, act, look and walk like a green PR expert. (If you want to be known as someone who wears funny tshirts and barefoot shoes, let me know).
Confused? Me too. Most personal branding blogs I’ve forced myself to read say very little about subject matter knowledge and next to nothing about experience. They wrongly proclaim, like too many companies with not-so-great products do, that your outward appearance is all (potential) customers need to see in order for you to be held in high esteem.
This makes most of these blogs absolutely worthless. Personal branding is not empowerment, but it’s part of it; personal branding is not claiming to be an expert, but being an expert is part of it; personal branding is not latching on to every new trend in an effort to be hip, but some will tell you it’s part of it. Personal branding is about presenting the best parts of yourself in the best possible light to as many people as necessary as often as possible.
Anything else is a waste of time and money.