Get Over Yourself & Build Your Personal Brand

July 25, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Social Media

Hey there. It’s Monday. Let’s play a game!

It’s a game where you get to watch your otherwise pretty cool friends and colleagues turn totally pompous in the span of five seconds. To play, all you have to do is talk about “your personal brand”. Then go into detail about how you built it, citing the hours logged blogging and sharing on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sphinn, whatever. Really. That’s it. Do it and suddenly your friends will treat you like a social leper, making snide comments about how you obviously have too much time on your hands if you’re spending time on Twitter and worrying about things like your “personal brand”. HA! How sad are you?!

Last week over at Bruce Clay, Inc., Jessica Lee shared five reasons she sucks at building her personal brand. In her post, Jessica name drops a handful of social media sites she knows she should be developing a presence on, but (to date) isn’t. I assume her post means that Jessica is going to try and get better at her personal brand slacking (huzzah!), but I couldn’t help but notice she mentions two big reasons for why she’s admittedly behind the brand curve:

  1. She’s busy. It’s hard to dedicate time to building a personal brand when you have a 9-to-5 job.
  2. She likes her privacy.

Okay, these excuses need to go die in a fire. For all of us.

There’s a twisted belief that investing in your personal brand means that you either have no life OR you have an ego. Okay, usually we’re led to believe that it means both. But ignoring your personal brand is like ignoring social media or the Web, in general.

It’s a death sentence. We all need to wake up.

Alan D. Mutter, who teaches media economics and entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California in Berkeley, published a post this morning advocating why journalists need to build their own brands.

In it, he wrote:

Given the steady fragmentation of the media, the growing paucity of jobs and the nano-ization of freelance pay, it increasingly is up to people who want to be journalists to take affirmative action to promote their work to build audiences they can monetize so they can have satisfying and remunerative careers. This presumes, of course, that said individuals have produced quality work, a subject covered thoroughly in any proper journalism program.

Hi. You may not be a journalist, but the same applies to you.

Due to the fragmentation of business, increased competition, and more niches to contend with, you need to create the audience you want to market yourself to.

Here, I’ll say it again.

You need to create your own audience. One will not magically be created for you.

You create that audience by creating a killer personal brand that elevates you to the top of your class. One that highlights your expertness, but that also constantly finds ways to put you front and center in your audience’s viewpoint. Because just like there are no Good Content Faeries to find and reward your good content, there are no This Person’s An Expert Faeries to drop you off on your customers’ doorsteps.

You need to do that yourself. And the excuses people give for why they simply “can’t”?

They don’t work anymore.

“I’m toooooo busy!”

Hey, I’m busy too. Between Outspoken Media, my work for sites like SmallBizTrends, trying to maintain VoiceInterrupted.com and, you know, having a life, my days are pretty packed, as well. But I’ve picked the social platforms that are important to my business and my brand and I’m active on them. I’m not doing it because I have nothing better to do. I assure you. Sure, it helps that Outspoken Media offers social media services as well as the traditional link building services and SEO consulting so things like Twitter are part of my job – but, guess what, they’re part of your job too. And that’s what you need to realize. It doesn’t matter if you sell cupcakes on Main Street or if you’re a hair dresser down on River Street, social media is part of your job. It’s part of your business.

“But….but my privacy!”

I’m not telling you that you need to get on Twitter and start telling the entire world where you are one Foursquare update at a time. Nor am I telling you that you need to blog about your deepest, darkest secrets. But get naked, lose the “professional” social media account and create a personal brand that’s actually based on something and doesn’t whimper at the sight of criticism. The great thing about social media is you get to create your own character. You are the one in the driver’s seat who determines what content you share with the rest of the world, who can see what, and what you want to be known for. So, pardon my language, but just f’ing do it.

With the lame excuses out of the way, I’d encourage you to go read the post I wrote for Bruce Clay, Inc. last year on how to build your brand working for someone else. There you’ll find a good blueprint on how to build a personal brand by:

  • Acting like an asset
  • Picking your social media character
  • Bleeding it
  • Creating opportunities
  • Being everywhere simultaneously

Once you read it, go do it. Because it’s not those of us with personal brands that are the jobless egomaniacs, it’s the people who think they don’t need one.

A personal brand isn’t a luxury, it’s a living resume. Now get over yourself and get started.

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