What Personal Branding is NOT

by Meg Guiseppi on October 17, 2017

Not true personal branding

When I began writing about personal branding in executive job search in 2008, it was a relatively new concept.

Back then, there was much resistance and outright bashing of personal branding.

Thousands of talking heads and self-professed experts pounded us with misinformation, adding to the confusion about personal branding.

Even so, savvy job seekers, careerists and others began, little by little, to embrace branding and its value in positioning oneself as a good-fit for target employers.

And nowadays, personal branding is hitting home with more people and becoming more embedded in the fabric of healthy career management, job search and career marketing.

These people are the smart ones.

They took the time to learn about and leverage personal branding.

But for many, branding continues to be a misunderstood and controversial topic . . . probably because they don’t know what it really is and is NOT.

What Personal Branding is NOT


The kinds of misinformation I was seeing 10 years ago and longer persist:

  • “It’s a fancy word for narcissism.”
  • “It’s shameless self-publicity.”
  • “Branding proponents claim that success comes from self-packaging, not from personal development, hard work and intelligence.”
  • “It’s a sham. One thing can’t define you in all contexts of your life.”
  • “It’s a passing fad soon to be replaced by the next best thing.”
  • “It’s the way to position yourself as an expert in your field.”
  • “All it is is ego-stroking . . . an opportunity to brag about yourself.”
  • “It’s merely a nifty tagline for a resume and email signature.”
  • “It’s the way to become famous.”
  • “It’s just a brand statement listing functional areas of expertise.”

What Personal Branding Really Is


Personal branding is not new. It’s always been with us. Before there was a name for it, people were assessing other people’s reputation and promise of value before deciding whether to partner, hire, or do business with them.

Tom Peters, credited with coining the phrase “personal branding”, gave his take on it in 1997 in his Fast Company article “The Brand Called You“:

“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.

You’re hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project.

And if you’re really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.”

You already have a brand. Your brand is your reputation.

To get a handle on and communicate the unique value you offer – your brand – you need to do some digging to define the unique set of strengths, personal attributes and drivers that differentiate you from your peers and competitors.

Along with introspection, the true measure of your brand comes from eliciting and assimilating feedback from those who know you best. They already know what your brand is about. They know what you’re the “go to” person for.

The branding process also includes identifying your target audience so that your brand positioning messaging will resonate with them.

Think of personal branding as educating people and your target employers about the unique value you offer them.

I’ve brought this all together in my 10-Step Personal Branding Worksheet.

But branding isn’t just about marketing yourself.

Because the defining and development process looks at your vision, purpose, values and passions, branding is also a personal development tool.

With this introspection comes a keener understanding of what kind of work is a best fit for you.

Branding helps you position yourself to move toward career fulfillment and work your passion.

In your career marketing communications − LinkedIn profile, executive resume, biography, cover letter, etc. − branding helps generate chemistry for you . . . what you’re like to work with, how you make things happen, and what you have to offer that no one else does.

Once you’ve defined what differentiates you and pulled together your brand, you can build a career marketing strategy to consistently communicate your unique promise of value to your target audience across multiple channels, online and offline.

Your brand makes it easier for recruiters and hiring decision makers to decide if you’re a good fit for their organization, and whether to hire you or do business with you.

If working through the personal branding process can help you with all these things:

  • Find career fulfillment,
  • Communicate better to employers why you’re the best hiring choice,
  • Make their hiring decision easier, and
  • Get you into your next great-fit gig faster . . .

Isn’t it worth the effort?

More About Personal Branding and Executive Job Search

The Personal Branding Manifesto for Executive Job Search

7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know

12 Ways To Build Personal Brand Evangelism

21 Ways Your Personal Brand Drives Your Executive Career

The Secret of Personal Branding – Be Authentic!

photo by bgottsab


Does your executive job search brand communications plan include Twitter?

If you’re not on Twitter because you don’t think you’ll have time to come up with enough quality tweets, reconsider.

I’m about to explain how you can leverage the value of Twitter with very little time and effort.

If you are on Twitter, what do your tweets look like? Are they mostly about what you had for lunch . . . or what movie you saw last night . . . or how lousy the weather is in your area?

Sprinkling in some of those kinds of tweets is okay, but for the most part, you should focus on reinforcing your brand in tweets that will resonate with your target audience.

If you’re active on Twitter or want to be, and need help creating good tweets, you need a retweet (RT) strategic plan.

In the Twitter Help Center, retweeting is described:

“A Retweet is a re-posting of a Tweet. Twitter’s Retweet feature helps you and others quickly share that Tweet with all of your followers. You can Retweet your own Tweets or Tweets from someone else. Sometimes people type “RT” at the beginning of a Tweet to indicate that they are re-posting someone else’s content.”

Even if you do nothing else on Twitter, posting relevant retweets can be a powerful way to build brand evangelism, a quality Twitter following, and get on the radar of people you want to rub elbows with, such as subject matter experts in your niche and hiring decision makers at companies you’re targeting in job search.

In a post on Lifewire, computer industry expert Daniel Nations wrote about the benefits of retweeting:

“When you retweet somebody else’s tweet, you’re essentially interacting with them.

You’re also introducing valuable information and suggesting new voices to follow, to your own followers. Retweeting is what spreads good information fast and makes things go viral.

If you tweet something really great and a big influencer decides to retweet you, their followers will see your tweet and they may end up retweeting you as well or even following you. It’s really the best way to get the word out about anything worth sharing and to build your own engagement.”

How To Build Your Retweeting Strategy

First, gather up a long list of people to retweet.

Who are these people? Colleagues, industry thought leaders, and CEOs and other top-level executives at your target companies, to name a few. Search for them on Twitter, follow them and retweet them.

Look on Twitter for the companies themselves you’re targeting in your job search. Follow and retweet them.

Break up your long list into various categories to help you prioritize and manage your retweet strategy. One category should be your favorite go-to people (those you can always count on for a good tweet)

Use Hootsuite or another Twitter app to help you organize and manage your lists.

How To Actually Do the Retweeting

Check out the Twitter Help Center for all the mechanics of retweeting.

Twitter tweaks functionality almost daily it seems, so, instead of outlining the steps here, it’s best if you go straight to the source.

10 of My Own “Give to Get” Retweet Strategies

1.   Keep your retweets consistent with your brand and ROI. That doesn’t mean you can’t RT off-topics and humorous tidbits sometimes, too.

2.   Don’t automatically retweet something containing a link without first checking it, to make sure it’s not a bad link and doesn’t lead somewhere you don’t really want to send people.

3.   Take the time to tweet a thank you to people who RT you, even if you’re not the tweet originator.

4.   It’s always nice to include your own brief supportive comment with a re-tweet that’s exceptional. If you’re having a hard time generating conversation on Twitter, retweeting in this way will help.

5.   Boost a Twitter newbie by checking in on them from time to time and retweeting their relevant tweets.

6.   Don’t change the wording of the original tweet, except to abbreviate for space.

7.   However, use abbreviations sparingly. A jumble of text-speak (or acronyms) can be confounding and doesn’t give a professional impression.

8.   If a good retweet doesn’t mention the original author, take the time to track them down and give them attribution with an @username mention.

9.   If you’re not already following someone you want to retweet, coincide retweeting with following them. Sometimes this gets their attention. But realize that some popular Twitter folks don’t want to follow a lot of people, so they may never follow you back.

10.   Retweeting using website share buttons makes it quick and easy to support the writer. But sometimes they haven’t customized the plug-in to include their @username in the RT, or a guest writer wrote the post but the author isn’t given attribution in the generated retweet. Take a few moments to tweak the RT to fix it.

More on Twitter and Executive Job Search

How to Use Twitter for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search

7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know

How a Robust Online Presence Helps You Land The Best Executive Jobs

Executive Job Search: Blogging? What Am I Going To Write About?

16 Deadly Executive Job Search Mistakes

Executive Job Search and Personal Branding Help

Land a GREAT-FIT New Executive GigNeed help with personal branding, your LinkedIn profile, resume and biography, and getting your executive job search on track . . . to land a great-fit new gig?

Take a look at the services I offer, how my process works and what differentiates my value-offer . . . then get in touch with me and we’ll get the ball rolling.


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