Personal Branding: A Call To Arms

I was asked to write a few words on personal branding for an IABC mentoring program in which I participate. This is what I shared…

I could rattle on about personal branding all night long (don’t let me corner you at a party). There are a plethora of tactics, inputs and outputs, that you can implement; in any case, as a communicator you already know how to hone a narrative, how to pick the right words (and avoid splashing around the LinkedIn top 10 most over-used profile descriptors – please)

I have over 75 posts about personal branding on my blog (some esoteric, some hardcore) if you have the gumption to belly flop in. If not, here are four considerations, two of my own, two from people way smarter than me:


Understanding your personal brand is an internal process, it comes from your core. The ‘marketing’ schtick you layer on over the top – to create memes, hooks, widgets, conversation points – they come after. It must begin with reflection, and you can begin practicing tomorrow. I wrote a small series of posts on how to (humanely) begin, how to deepen, and how to win this endeavour. They are a good place to start.

Share Who You Are > What You Have Done

Now, how will others know you? Where should your focus be in shining a light on your genius? Well, I often reference Dee Hock, Visa’s original, visionary CEO. He advises:

“Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience.”

You can find out more, why, here.

Showcase Potential

In a similar vein, I recently read this article about Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, in which he makes the case to hire based on five indicators of a person’s potential: motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination.

Anyone might have more experience than you; indeed, you might not have access to the experience and knowledge required for the job. But what you, OF COURSE, have is motivation and capacity. You can do it, right? You will exceed expectations, you will make it happen. I know it.

How will the employer? How will the association, the committee, the event organizer? Where is the real proof of your brilliance, or even your potential? How will you pique their interest, get them leaning in for more?

Your awe-inspiring resume with a subtly crafted cover letter with a cute design motif? Let’s hope so!

Else, you might want to flesh out your personal brand: share your hopes and aspirations, your thought process and ideation, your beliefs, successes and failures, your humility and your enduring curiosity. Why not?! Who else will be doing that for you if you are not?

dipping a toe
dipping a toe

No more rhetorical questions.

It ain’t rocket science, folks. An engaging, curated Twitter feed + a regular blogroll on a topic of your choosing (content focus immaterial) + a wry, insightful Instagram + a little schtick + an ongoing commitment to share = I know you!


Ultimately, your personal brand is a hustle (always an authentic one). In my own manifesto of sorts, I throw this out:

Hustle is the ability and willingness to connect with others and sell our vision of a better tomorrow. It allows us to sponsor <insert your thang here>. Hustle also corresponds with personal branding – creating memorable momentum in the lives of others. Your personal brand is a calling card that says:

I am part of the solution. I can help. Let’s talk.”

In times of flux, people will say, in return,

“Thank you.”

Hustle & Flow “when possessed and fused correctly, creates a distinct, undeniable swag.” Things start to happen.

Practice your elevator pitch, create an infographic, obtain a million twitter followers, no matter. But do something. Stand out. Make a (brand) promise. Keep it.

←This Much We Know.→


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