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Personal Branding is an interesting topic.  I’ve written about it here and here and here!  So, I have some experience in thinking about Personal Branding, counseling others on the topic and trying to stay current with the opinions of thought leaders in this area (@DorieClark and @garyvee are two of my favorites).

In my mind, a Personal Brand is simply the manifestation of your professional reputation.  It also answers the question: When people hear your name what do they think?

Most people agree that your professional reputation carries more weight as the world becomes increasingly interconnected.  The factors driving this increased interconnectedness are numerous, but two important aspects are the importance of social networks in the workplace and increasing job mobility.

Since these factors don’t seem to be fading away, I’m of the opinion that EVERYONE needs to be concerned with their Personal Brand.  This view is not shared universally and the latest example is a Wall Street Journal blog post entitled Why Self-Branding Isn’t for Everyone by  Alice Marwick.

There were several elements of the piece that I disagree with, but here are two of the most problematic:

“Self-branding advocates suggest you promote this persona through every possible tool, from YouTube videos to Learning Annex classes”.  Well, I’m an advocate…and I’ve never said or advised this behavior (nor have any of the advocates I enjoy reading).  Instead, the overarching message is that social media is a TOOL and it should be used to communicate your brand as appropriate.  And be selective in using the platforms that will reach the audiences you want to inform or influence.  There. That feels better!

“Are you a social worker, teacher, or engineer? Do you work as a barista or in retail? Self-branding won’t do anything for you, because the type of public image that self-branding requires isn’t valued in these occupations”.   Not true!  First, recruiters for all sorts of jobs across all industries use LinkedIn and other social media to vet candidates for positions.  And to find out additional information that does not “fit” on a traditional resume.

But that’s just one reason this view is defeatist.  Another way Personal Branding can function is to provide a platform to develop and share expertise.  An engineer or teacher or social worker who blogs about best practices, follows and comments on industry trends and tweets informative articles from other industry leaders is a lot more likely to be seen as a great job candidate than someone who keeps their head down and toils in obscurity, don’t you think?

The access to professional connections and opportunities to learn from experts is nearly unlimited in our new, interconnected world.  Missing out on these opportunities can only be described as foolish.

There were other points from Ms. Marwick’s piece with which I disagreed.  And she has a book coming out next month entitled “Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age” that will likely create even more blog posts.  I’m happy to promote her book, even though I take exception with many of the points here – and I’m happy she will benefit from it.  After all, that is how the Personal Branding works in 2013!

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