Your answer to this question should be “YES!” unless, of course, you are a celebrity or any other global personality who can afford an entire marketing team to manage your image and reputation.
We should all be taking charge in creating, establishing and managing our own personal brands online and offline. Once you have begun to establish yours, managing it can be a piece of cake.
If you are active online with blogs and social networks, managing your brand can be as simple as Googling yourself and using Google Alerts to stay updated on any new mentions or publications of your name, your websites, your blogs, your articles and more. When offline, managing your brand can be as easy as carefully reviewing your performance evaluations at work and/or seeking consistent feedback from family, friends, supervisors and other career stakeholders to make sure your personal communications are being effectively transmitted and correctly received.
As I continue to surf the net for new articles about or related to this topic, I have been amazed at the number of voices against these concepts.
Here are just some of the questions and comments I have come across from such voices:
1. “People are not brands, because people are not products.”
2. “Who cares about your personal brand?”
3. “Personal branding is narcissistic.”
4. “Are you so unsure of who you are that you must reaffirm yourself via internet tools?”
5. “Why is it so important to make sure your online image appears the way you want it to?”
While I respect and understand where each of these points is coming from, I must reinforce the importance of personal brand management in response to each one.
1. It is true that people are not products. However, often we choose one product over other similar products because of its brand (a.k.a. its unique and differentiating value) and how that value fulfills our need in a given situation. This holds true for people, as well. Each person has a unique and differentiating value, or personal brand, that fulfills an organization’s need in a given situation better than other similar people.
2. We should all care about our personal brands because they combine our strengths, our personalities, our reputations, our values and our goals all into one communicable, unique and differentiating value that we bring to the table.
3. Personal branding isn’t narcissistic unless taken to the extreme. Promoting your strengths and your unique and differentiating value to your career stakeholders is healthy and important for your own self-fulfillment and achievement in life. As more and more professionals brand themselves, it is essential that you establish your own brand in order to stand out in your job search and career development.
4. Keeping track of your online reputation with simple online tools does not make you less confident. The internet is a vast and ever-evolving platform on which it is much easier to miss “fires” threatening our personal brands and reputations. Therefore, we must fight fire with fire to stay on top of everything and protect our reputations and our investment.
5. Your online image is just a part of your overall image and personal brand. If you invest time, energy and even money into your own personal development and image offline, it makes sense that you will want your online image to match.
Personal branding is simply creating, establishing and communicating a unique and memorable value and reputation, and personal brand management is the consistent upkeep and maintenance of this value in the spheres in which you choose to exist and be active, both online and offline.
Brand managers establish and protect the value that your favorite chosen brands of products deliver, so be your own personal brand manager and protect all that you have to offer!