A well-communicated personal brand can work like a magnet.
I call myself a Creative Networker. It is the most accurate and succinct description I could think of that wraps all the projects I am involved in. My business cards and personal website explain that I’m a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, and freethinker. (I seem to have forgotten bragger in that list.) If I had to summarize my personal brand with three words I would choose creative, smart, and funny. But I would easily agree that brands are better defined by their observers, not by their owners. My readers might prefer to describe me as weird, blunt, and smug. It is all in the eye of the beholder.
Much like commercial brands describing the relationships between people and products or businesses, personal brands describe the relationships between people and… other people. Employers, employees, customers and other stakeholders develop perceptions, opinions, and feelings about each other. Brands, whether commercial or personal, find themselves somewhere between intention and reception. I can choose to be creative (intention), but I can be perceived as just weird (reception). The more effort we put into learning how to grow, shape, and communicate our brands, the less we leave grey areas for others to fill in. If we don’t develop our own personal brands, others will do it for us. And this is important, because personal brands apply to the context of a life-time, and beyond!
Growing a personal brand is crucial if you want some level of control over the development of your career. The way the market perceives you will affect which jobs you get, which projects you will work on, and which opportunities will be passed on to you. Forget about traditional resumes. From now on you will be judged primarily by what people can find out about you online, the people you are connected to, and the projects and organizations you are associated with. Think Ashton Kutcher. Think Lady Gaga. Social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Klout, and your personal blog or site will be your new resume and business card. They will be a reflection of your personal brand. Your reputation. You must think of yourself as the CEO of your own company: Me Inc.
A well-communicated personal brand can work like a magnet, attracting similar-minded people and organizations with cultures that fit your personality like a glove. It also attracts Personal Branding Gurus, Social Media Experts, and other nasty parasites. Nobody said work life is without dangers!