Personal Branding IS Real: Whether You Like It or Not
Personal branding is real and it affects us more than we’d like.
I’ve come across an interesting article, which claims that personal branding does not exist. It made me thinking. No, personal branding indeed exists. It has never been more important than it is today. It defines who you are as a professional.
I am new on Medium. In fact, it’s my fifth publication. I started last week. I don’t have a strong personal brand here, but I’m growing it. My growing list of followers makes my brand stronger. My thought-leadership through articles also helps me build a stronger personal brand.
I am active on social media platforms, where I also share my knowledge and skills with the others, hoping that the information helps them grow.
I get invitations to speak in various industry events in Malaysia and abroad, and it also contributes to building my personal brand. My name becomes more known.
What is personal branding?
To me, personal branding is a way to market one’s skills, knowledge and career. It is a way to maintain and develop a personal image through thought-leadership, mentoring and giving.
Whether you like it or not, but your name (or a nickname) is a brand. People associate certain actions and previous encounters with your name (your brand). If you made yourself known as a great speaker in Fintech industry, you will be invited to speak in Fintech events. Your brand is known to be a good and engaging speaker.
If you Google your full name, you may be surprised to see how much information there is about you on a public domain. All this information shapes your personal brand.
I Googled myself. I see my academic publications, social media accounts, links to events where I was invited as a speaker, my publications on Medium, and elsewhere. There are endless pages of my footprint. And it all shapes my personal brand. If you skim through the search feed, you’ll exactly know who I am, what I do and what skills I have.
Of course, you may be unknown to the public eye, if you choose to. But you would still have a brand. You might be a person, who does whatever is needed and more without going into the public space. You may be a great motivator, awesome mentor or an amazing professional, known only for your colleagues and friends. But even then, your brand is there for a smaller (inner) circle of people.
Personal branding is crucial in today’s working environment, where often hundreds of equally skilled candidates apply for the same positions. By having a strong personal brand, you are more likely to nail the job.
In my opinion, it works in the same way as buying a product. If given a choice, you’d choose a better-known brand, over something that you’ve never heard of before. Why? Because a better-known brand is more trustworthy, it has a proven track record of success. Similarly, a person with a great personal brand would be perceived as more valuable to the company.
As scary as it sounds, but the company is buying you. After all, they are going to pay for your service to perform certain tasks. Therefore, by having a well-established brand, you may be perceived as a more desirable employee.
Personal branding vs reputation
These two terms are related but differ in perspective. A personal brand is something self-defined: your achievements, facts, skills and knowledge broadcasted by you. Whereas reputation is an opinion from someone else based on the evaluation of your work, achievements, skills and facts.
For example, a totality of Google search results would shape your personal brand. But the opinion, expressed by someone else after evaluating the Google search results would be your reputation. All the books, articles and posts that you’ve written would shape your personal brand. While reviews on them would create your reputation.
And Google search is just an example. Achievements can be displayed in many different ways. When I think of marketing, the first names that come in my mind are Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk. I don’t need to Google them as they have established themselves as thought-leaders within the field of marketing. It’s impossible to miss their books on marketing shelves in bookstores or libraries across the world, or not to see their posts on Facebook and LinkedIn newsfeeds.
To me, both of them are personal brands. But, if I start evaluating their work, hear what other people say about their work, it’s their reputation as marketing professionals.
Personal branding is a dividing topic. On one hand, it is scary to be made into an “item”, but on the other hand, it is inevitable. As much as I want to know about the “item” before using it, my next employer may equally want to see how credible I am outside of CV and job interviews. And my personal brand is the best way to prove that I, and only I, am the best choice.
It brings me to conclude that personal branding is real whether we like it or not. It’s something that makes us strive to progress professionally further, grow and share our knowledge and it’s something that will continue to define us as professionals.
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Edgaras Katinas is a marketer who currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He loves writing and discussing human rights, language, history and culture. His passion is food and he hopes to live in a world where any kind of discrimination is eliminated. You can follow him on Twitter.