// what do you think?


Your Personal Brand is Not About You

Personal branding is not about you. It requires a lot of hard work, persistence in the face of repeated failure and the confidence to take a stand for something but despite the blood sweat and tear you put in it’s not about you.

Building your platform

Building a recognizable brand, even within your community or industry, is hard but it’s not as hard as it used to be. To build a personal brand you need a platform. Platforms were usually built around some sort of fame; a successful book, TV or radio show, something. In order to get there in the first place you needed publicists, agents and teams of PR people working their magic to get you booked on talk shows, news appearances and speaking gigs. All of these things still work but they have always come with a large price tag.

Today, the Internet is the only platform you need. You need a blog, a strong social media presence, you can self publish a book, start an Internet radio show, podcast or online video series. It’s still hard work but anyone willing to put in the work can do it. In short you don’t have to be special to be special.

Personal Spam

Because so many barriers have been removed there is a gold rush of people looking to establish their personal brand. In the attempt to create a personal brand what usually results is personal spam. It’s gotten so bad I normally don’t even like talking about personal branding. There are too many egomaniacs, snake oil salesmen (and women) and get rich quick schemers.

The truth is personal brand building is not about you. Your personal brand lives in the minds of the people who support you. Your Facebook friends and fans, your Twitter followers, your blog and book readers and in general everyone who believes in you that isn’t your mom.

Who are your friends?

If you want to really build a personal brand quit focusing on yourself. It’s not about you; it’s about your supporters, target audience, stakeholders, consumers, network and all those other terms companies use to describe people. For the sake of my personal sense of humanity we’ll be referring to them as friends from here on out.

My friends are the reason I do what I do. I have a few unique talents, we all do, and I use my unique talents to help my friends. I share my talents and my friends tell their friends. My friends built my platform for me.

Don’t be someone you’re not

The foundation of your platform should be you. All those things that make up who you are. Don’t be someone your not or act a certain way. That’s disingenuous and people can tell.

Be the megaphone for your friends

Highlight your friends. Highlight the people that helped you build your platform. Don’t just thank them, showcase them.

Get over yourself

You are not that big a deal. I don’t care who you are you are replaceable and beyond  our little corner of the Internet no one knows who you are.

If you’re standing alone on your platform or if the people standing with you aren’t your friends, you don’t have a personal brand you have personal spam.

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Photo credit jurvetson

Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0and the Personal Branding Blog asked me to write an article for the Personal Branding Magazine. I ended up writing two and this was the one I saved for you :)

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://personalbrandingbook.com/ Dan Schawbel

    Great article Tac. I'm glad you see personal branding as something positive instead of negative. If all you do is promote yourself, you will push people away instead of drawing them in. Personal branding works as a way to get people's attention and interest based on the value you can contribute to them.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    I do see personal branding as not just a positive but a necessity. Unfortunately, like many good things, it gets abused and misused. You're absolutely right that the equation has to be based on value or it doesn't work.

  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

    I just don't understand why the same people who go on and on about “your company is what google says it is” and “you never really had control, you just thought you did” are the same people who keep talking about “building a strategy to grow your personal brand” and “influencing the influencers”. It's the same thing. Shut up and get back to work.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    That's the difference between personal brand and personal spam :)

  • http://realadvertising.cc Frymaster

    In order to have a personal brand, you have to have a brandable quality or take; something memorable and meaningful to somebody. Absent that, is there anything to brand?

    You call it spam, but to me it's more like meeting an empty suit. Only online.

  • http://www.forrestkobayashi.com Forrest W. Kobayashi

    Excellent post here, Tac! I know too many people attempting to establish a personal brand who always talk about themselves and what is interesting to them. It's about time that some personal brands starting focusing on their target audience.

  • http://manydoors.net Bruce Wilson

    I bow to you, sir: evocatively stated. I read the post, read the comments, then asked myself: so what about my friends, what can I do for them tomorrow, literally? And immediately came up with a couple of things I had been overlooking that are not only “personal brand-aware” but smart business moves.

    This is a very useful focusing point, thank you for sharing it with us.

  • maryloukayser

    You have nailed the paradox of personal branding: in order for it to work effectively, you have to get yourself out of the way! As a teacher of more than 15 years, I witnessed too often in students both young and older try way too hard to “brand” themselves when all they needed to do was relax and just BE themselves! It's a funny time we live in, but a tremendous time…one filled with opportunity to help others differentiate themselves from the crowd and lead authentic, abundant lives. Great article! Thanks.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    I'm thinking the “The Empty Suit” is the east cost version of “All Hat, No Cattle.” :)

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Forrest, thanks for the comment. And I'm sorry that I'm about to say this because you probably hear it all the time but you have to have the coolest geek pop culture last name :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Isn't it amazing how focusing on helping your customers is always a smart business move?

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    I think the paradox stems from the conflicting motivators. Most people aren't motivated to establish a personal brand with the intent of helping people. Yet most people who start off intending to help people aren't thinking about but are usually in the best situation to establish a personal brand.

  • http://manydoors.net Bruce Wilson

    Agreed, business can be good like that. :-) But the trigger in your post is making it personal on the customer side. Changing the perspective from relationships between entities to relationships with friends highlighted different opportunities.

  • amandaleighoc

    We know this. We just forget sometimes. Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://startups.com/ Maxiosearch

    Great approach Tac. I share your thoughts and personal branding is about sharing with others what you can do for them and what have others done for you as well to take you to your primary goals and objectives. Is not about you, is not about me, is about building a community of people interested in a specific topic/business area and share the passion for that!

    To add some interesting resource to this conversation, I recommend all readers to share thoughts, tips and advices on Startups.com Q&A

    Hope you like it!

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