The typical "Judy Consumer" out there would probably not have given a second thought to the notion of a personal brand, or if she did, she would relegate it to the domain of celebrities and the glitterati. Personal branding was certainly not anything she needed to worry about. Yet in today's hyper competitive world -- a personal brand is exactly what she needs because to compete effectively in today's job market is as much about your personal brand as it about what you actually do on the job.
But I don't think it is an overstatement to say "Judy Consumer" probably has little notion of what it takes to build a personal brand, maintain it or the strategies needed so that your personal brand can get you through tough career challenges. While the stakes are high, success in personal branding requires just a bit of education combined with easy-to-use technology that is readily available. I've chosen to share with you three resources that were developed by three "generations" representing three perspectives -- from senior executives to the Gen Y'ers (1980s/ 1990s) to college kids. When you combine the collective wisdom of these three "generations", Judy Consumer will understand what a personal brand is, how to create it and manage it. So let's prepare to launch your personal right now.
I will start with information from the most senior person first -- a fellow by the name of Michael Kerman who wrote a book called; Finding the Restroom. Mr. Kerman has had a long, successful career starting at ECI technology moving to Fortune 500 companies like CA (formerly Computer Associates) and then going to innovative technology startups. Over the course of his career, Michael realized that hard work alone was not enough to stay employed in today's hyper frantic business cycle. He realized that in the physical workplace, there was a need for personal branding strategies that help someone "survive in today's chaotic and unpredictable workplace." His book is meant for newbie workers; mid level managers and even executives as he thoughtfully outlines key opportunities for on-the-job personal branding that are often ignored or overlooked. Probably my favorite chapter; "Clowns to the left, jokers to the right", outlines how to avoid the traps that can damage your personal brand and possibly your job security. Foremost, Kerman reminds us; "you can turn chaos and risk to your advantage."
The second contributor to the practical field of personal branding comes from the younger Gen Y segment (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) via another book called; ME 2.0: 4 Steps to building your future by Dan Schawbel. Mr. Schawbel, who has been labeled "Personal Branding Guru" by the New York Times, carefully provides a clear, step by step roadmap of the mechanics of creating your own brand and the risks to avoid. His consistent and best advice, "Authenticity" is wise counsel as it is very easy to lose yourself to the "hype" side of a personal brand.
The final entry in helping develop a personal brand comes from the younger end of the Gen Y group -- today's college kids. Not surprisingly, this generation puts technology to work to win at the personal branding game (so fitting for a generation bred to love digital games).Brand-yourself.com is a company recently started by Pete Kistler from Syracuse University that is an online reputation management company. Together with some friends and supporters, Mr. Kistler created a "platform" that easily lets people create SEO friendly web pages, tools to manage key social networks and even suggestions on how to manage Google results on you. The technology is easy to use and for a low monthly cost, you have a personal branding machine that can get you a credible web presence very fast. The company even offers a free trial so you can play with it for yourself. With Brand-yourself, much of the tedious technology guesswork/ hassle is eliminated, freeing you to focus on the substance of your personal brand.
There you have it -- a broad landscape view of creating a personal brand so you can find a job and thrive in it once you land it. Mr. Kerman offers tangible advice for personal branding in the workplace and during transition times; Mr. Schawbel delivers a clear blueprint for what's needed to create a personal brand and Mr. Kistler provides the technology platform to bring it all together. Despite the wide range in age and experience between these "three generations" -- they all understand that the days of professional stability based solely on job commitment and hard work are over. You need a personal brand to stand out from the crowd - you need a personal brand to help define you.
As Michael Kerman reassuringly tell us; "If this all sounds scary and makes you want to curl up in a fetal position, rest assured...you are not alone." With information and technology, "Judy Consumer" can understand the "what", "how" and "why" of her personal brand. Go forth and brand brilliantly.