Insights from the Personal Branding Tweetchat

Is personal branding something that happens to you or something that you control? Is it inherent to you or something that can be changed? My recent tweetchat on personal branding gave me pause to really think about these questions and discuss them with others. Here are a few insights from that conversation.

What is it your personal brand?

When we think about “branding” ourselves, we tend to think about external things – blogging, tweeting, our résumés. But really those are just tools we use to perpetuate our personal brand; think of them as symptoms, not the illness itself. Personal brand is much more… personal. It is your core being, your operation style, how you execute and present yourself. It is, as Meghan Biro says, about “find[ing] your true self and run[ning] with it” or as others in the tweetchat described, your passion, your niche, your unique value. However, the important piece here is that you must truly understand your personal brand, what you actually perpetuate, not just what you hope to – which brings me to the next point:

Does personal branding happen to you or by you?

You own your personal brand, but branding, on the other hand, is a different story. Organizational Change Management Consultant, Sophie Shuklin, wrote in the tweetchat, “Another way to look at this is how others describe you and what they think you bring to the table.” Brand is what you bring to the table, branding is what others believe you bring to the table – what they think of you long after you’ve left the table. Branding happens with or without you. Go now and Google yourself. You’ll find a brand being developed that you may have had little or no hand in. However, that’s not to say you can’t influence your branding, but the first step is to know who you are: strengths, weaknesses, good days, bad days, and all. If there is something you don’t like about your branding, you can work to improve that, perhaps with social media or more directly, by changing your approach with others. But, what if you want to change a branding that’s been perpetuated over your entire career?

Can you change your branding mid-career?

Change takes work. Don’t expect to wake up one day and say, “I’m an expert in something new” and for everyone to agree. Authenticity is bred through consistency; trust is fostered through performance. Moral is, the silent response to you will be, “Prove it.” The key to changing your branding is to leverage your experience, knowledge, and your personal brand. Remember, just because you want to do something new and have people view you differently, doesn’t mean you have to change your core being, your true brand.  Instead, find ways to leverage that into something new. Take steps, not leaps. To get from point A to point C, go through point B, and sooner or later you will have developed that authenticity and trust that will drive new branding.

In the ongoing conversation about personal branding, it is important to remember the difference between brand and branding. Brand is who you are, how you portray yourself, while branding is how others perceive you.  It is important to understand both, who you are and who others think you are. With that insight, you can own and reshape your branding into exactly what you want it to be.


Friday Fast Tip: Google Yourself

Do you know your personal brand? Do you know what information is out there about you? When is the last time you Googled yourself? Googling yourself, understanding your current digital profile, and reshaping it should be a regular activity. Even individuals who don’t actively participate in social media have a digital presence, so it is important to know what yours is and if it fits with the image you are hoping to portray.

Guest Post: What do you want to be known for?

Personal branding is all about marketing yourself.

I’m honored to be invited to blog on a topic I’m passionate about, but first a little background on my branding experience. As a graduate student, I co-founded the GW Certificate in Responsible Management in which students created personal blogs documenting their community service.  From this, I learned first-hand the impact that branding can have for a student, especially in a competitive job market.  I then went on to IBM where I helped a Partner develop a branding campaign using Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs.  This post provides lessons I’ve learned from these experiences and tips for improving your personal brand. 

Why is branding important? A strong personal brand sets you apart.  No matter what stage you are in your career, you will face competition.  Whether you’re applying for a promotion or new job (or even a new roommate!) having a strong brand will help you get ahead. A key point to remember is that branding is just as important for you in your current career as it is for your next, so don’t put it off until you are looking for a new opportunity.

The first step in personal branding is determining what your brand should be.  Do you want to be known as someone who can turn-around troubled projects?  Have you lived abroad and want to share your cross-cultural knowledge?  Think about what makes you unique.  What do colleagues come to you for help with?  What are you passionate about?  Identifying what you want your brand to be will help focus your efforts.

Remember, your personal brand is much more than your profession. Don’t limit yourself. “An employee who brands himself does not let his job title subsume him,” says one CEO. “He might be in accounting now, but I’ve stopped thinking of him as an accountant. I’ve come to think of him as a problem solver or a strategist. These people are identified more with the company’s goals than with any current slot in the organization.”

So, are you ready to start “being your own brand?”

  1. First, assess your current brand.  Google yourself.  What do you find? What does it say about you?  “Before anyone asks to see your resume, they’ll undoubtedly have checked you out on the web. What others say, true and false, is visible 24/7.  A Google search of your name is essentially the resume the world has created for you,” says executive job search consultant, Debra Feldman.
  2. Build your brand.  Identify places where conversations about your areas of expertise are already happening.  Volunteer, be authentic, and add value to the conversation.  For example, are you an experienced mentor or coach?  Then volunteer to be a guest blogger on a human capital blog such as “Human Capital League,” and share your expertise with others.
  3. Remember it’s a constant process.  Update your resume and online profiles regularly – You’ll want to include recent accomplishments and stay timely. Consistency is critical – it helps others to understand that you are dependable and focused, so no, there isn’t such a thing as being “done” with branding.

Thanks for reading.  Now for some personal branding… follow me on Twitter @Lisa_518 or connect on LinkedIn


This post was written by Lisa Manning, Organizational Change Management & Social Media Consultant at IBM.