2010 Career Challenge: Y = Your Brand (Beyond the Web)

By Skip Lineberg

Building a personal brand is a marketing process. The hallmarks of a well-constructed brand include consistency, authenticity, specificity and all the customary brand parameters (as presented on Brand-Yourself). Following that lesson, let’s remember the first law of marketing: perception is reality. What this means in the context of branding yourself is that success is more about how others perceive you than what you say about yourself.

In the arena of personal branding, there’s too much talk about the technology. There’s scarcely any talk about content. The technology is fine. We all need to understand the technology behind social networking and social media.

Moreover, we should leverage the opportunities afforded by social technologies. Build a great web presence—absolutely! And by all means, use social networks to connect with people who can inform, advise and amuse you.

But never forget this: technology is just the medium. And what really matters when it comes to branding yourself is the message. I’m talking about the content behind your personal brand. A personal brand is just a front, a façade, if it’s not solidly backed by content. From the perspective of your audience (those important individuals whose perceptions truly matter and can affect your career and your future opportunities), those who are truly interested in you (to hire you, to evaluate you, to reward you, to recommend you, to promote you and to include you in exciting projects and cool, new ventures) will drill down beyond your branding into your content. Back to the first law of marketing, the practice of telling is largely ineffective because people learn by discovery.

So, what will people find when they drill down into Brand You? Invariably, they will examine the following:

Your traits – are you reliable, likable, trustworthy, motivated, driven?

Your credentials – degrees, professional certifications, GPA, etc.

Your accomplishments – what have you completed, led, generated, invented, improved?

And what if you are already employed? How does personal branding translate in your workplace? In my opinion, it matters greatly—as much or more so than when you are seeking a job. If you worked for me at my marketing firm, you would be evaluated annually on your performance across several key measurements including: reliability, teamwork, productivity, leadership, communications, concern for customers, creativity and community service. All of which is about content.

Use personal branding to attract favorable attention. Have a great content to back up the branding. If you want to succeed in your career, don’t stop with the technology. Focus intently on goal-setting, striving, improving and achieving. Because that’s what truly matters.

Note: This is Part 25 in a series called the “2010 Career Challenge: Becoming a Rock Star from A to Z” by Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg, co-authors of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job.

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