As you go through college, especially if you are a business student, you will hear a lot about building your own “personal brand.” I was in a class recently where we had a speaker come in to discuss this topic, careers, and professionalism. The speaker was from a well-respected company and seemed to be pretty successful so I was interested to hear his thoughts. Personal branding took up a large portion of the discussion with the speaker continually bringing up its importance for young professionals such as ourselves.

The speaker, as an example, said he would describe his personal brand to us. I have to say… I came away from it let down.

He proceeded to give us a general rundown of his daily activities and projects on the job, the clients he worked with, and a few skills he used in his work. It honestly felt like he was reading a job description. My first thought afterwards was, “I still have no idea who this person is.” His PERSONAL brand consisted of nothing actually personal about him. I wanted him to tell us why he did what he did. What is his motivation for doing his work? What does he care about? I wanted to know how he did his work. What specifically about him made him successful? How is he different than other people that do the same job? Why should a client choose to work with him over another?

It’s called a personal brand for a reason right? To me, your personal brand should be an extension of your personality that simply relates to the work you do. Think about a conversation that might take place between a hiring manager and your last boss. When they ask about you, what do you want the answer to be? “Well, so-and-so held this position, worked with these clients, and achieved these results.” I’m not saying thats all bad, if you produced great results of course you’d like that to be discussed. But that isn’t going to set you apart from someone else who also gets results. Your personal brand is what can set you apart from the competition.

A better answer would be: “So-and-so held this position, worked with these clients, and achieved these results. So-and-so was also extremely generous around the office. They were always asking their co-workers if they could assist on projects and so-and-so’s clients said they always showed true interest in helping them succeed.”

Your personal brand should say something about who you are, not just what you do.

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March 23, 2014

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