Define Your Personal Brand or the Market Will

Personal Branding WebinarThe topic of creating and maintaining a personal brand has had its share of animated discussions over the years. It was still early days in social networks when my interview was published in Personal Branding Magazine in May 2009 [Browsable document at Scribd, downloadable PDF version available.]

As an introverted extrovert I used to bristle over hearing my own recorded voice or seeing myself on video. Yet a few years into the rocky new world of work I had already experienced before Tom Peters' article on Brand You I had a hunch that defining what you stand for and publishing your views was the way to go. Marie Curie was my hero — she kept her research open and penned articles about her discoveries.

Define your personal brand or the market will — and you may not like what it turns out to be. The interview was based on my philosophy that customer relationships are conversations with social media as an enabler. Having extensive experience in corporate branding development and management helped me transfer some of those ideas to the arena of personal branding.

You will find recurring themes in my answers:

  • How the overused term conversation is still not really done more than a decade after the publication of the Cluetrain Manifestopeople continue to comment not converse, big difference. Relationships have always been about micro interactions and conversation is one of the technologies that enable them.
  • There is (still) a place for comments because it is an opportunity to build on other people's ideas and to test your beliefs in real situations — how/do they apply? I realize it's hard for brands for various reasons. It should not be that hard for people. Maybe you answer a post with a post of your own. It's an opportunity to make sense of an issue or topic out loud, present a different point of view, and enrich the discussion.
  • I also talked about how I participate in social networks — my philosophy on helping make connections and using the blog as a hub is still intact, though I pared down my sharecropping activities considerably as those hubs lost much of the community feel and became more broadcast channels for the masses — a collection of one-way link pushes and automated updates all in search of a click.
  • My criterion before hitting the publish button — you should do a gut check on the content. Today it can spread even faster. Use the 30-second undo setting on your gmail account, if you have one, and do not publish when emotionally charged. Save a draft, get up, walk around, let the blood flow a bit, the re-read. This is valid for work stuff as well where there might be an undo button. There is none for relationships and the one for reputation repair is expensive.

We all form perceptions of other people all the time. Proactive professionals help shape those perceptions through their actions and communications. Mark Suster addressed the topic extensively at his blog#. It is important for start-up founders to understand:

It is simply the most important way to proactively control your career development and how the market perceives you. It will affect your ability to get the right jobs and promotions as well as your ability to attract talent and capital.

People form perceptions of you whether you like it or not.

Frankly, many of their views are shaped by unconscious biases, word-of-mouth feedback, stereotypes and how they perceive your communication style in the world of open, social communication fora.

Then proceeds to outline his own story. You will find that many people involved in digital and technology have the most interesting collection of past jobs that led them to where they are today. Each a piece of a larger picture that informed their ability to be flexible and always be learning at the fast pace of technology to get in front of innovation.

Technology and social are transforming how we do business and impacting how we do everything else — from manufacturing, to driving, communications to entertainment, making to buying, etc. etc. The future of work is already here for all of us, and likely it is affecting you in more than one way. We're all working on the same question.

My friends at Work Wide Women invited me to facilitate an online conversation on what it takes to build online credibility in support of personal/professional goals. If you speak Italian you are in luck as I will be debunking some of the myths in the process as well.

I look forward to addressing the topic in support of helping you shape your options.

Sig up here.


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