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Personal branding? Or baloney?

My Mug ShotI talk a lot about personal branding, and I teach it. In fact, I even bought the domain (which points to my old website until I can think of something clever to put there). And I use my picture frequently not because I think I’m good looking, but because I want people to associate my mug with what I say and write. That’s my personal brand.

But I have to confess that every time I hear the term, I get a little nauseous. That’s pretty much the same reaction I had earlier in my career when recent college grads started talking ad nauseum about branding this and branding that. It’s probably genetic; I also get prissy when somebody talks about prioritizing things. Or maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

These concepts aren’t new, although the names have changed to enrich the marketeers. They’ve been around since humans started socializing. Probably animals too, but I don’t want to get between the Darwinistas and the Creationists.

It’s natural for a prospective partner to want to know something about their new partner, whether the other person is your boss, a job candidate, or a consultant – it doesn’t really matter. That’s why people look you up on Google before offering you a job or trying to sell you something.

We once referred to this as your reputation. Now it’s called your personal brand.

Web 2.0 has brought back the notion of community for many of us. At one time, everyone in a community knew everyone else. Where I grew up, I knew everyone that lived on my street, and I’d been in almost every house. Today, that’s uncommon.

Five years ago, when you applied for a job, it was hard for a hiring manager or an HR person to learn much about you. Resumes were relatively more important then, because they were the only screening mechanism companies had – except for networking, which has always been important.

Today, for most of us – at least in technology-rich areas like the San Francisco Bay Area – that’s no longer true. If you have the right keywords on your resume, you may make the first (usually) electronic cut. But before you get called for an interview, somebody is going to look you up on Google, or perhaps go even deeper.

That’s why managing your reputation is important, and that’s why somebody had to rename it personal branding, so we could get your attention.

Whatever you call it, this is real, and it affects you. You can be a victim, or you can thrive – the choice is yours.

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  1. walt says

    I’m still learing about pingbacks. This article listed my blog article at the bottom in a group of blogs talking about baloney. Not a very strong link… but i thought it was an interesting post anyway, so I ok’ed the comment.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Ingraham to Renegade Sen. Specter: ‘Is It Nice to Be Wined and Dined at the White House?’ — But As For Me linked to this post on February 10, 2009

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