Is a personal brand worth anything?
Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
A career coach once told me I had to define my “personal brand.” At my current job, I told my manager that my brand was “I listen to all sides of arguments and expertly synthesize facts to help teams make wise decisions.”He smirked and said that everyone should have that skill and that it was foolish to label myself with one attribute. Did I totally blow the branding thing?
I have nothing against crafting statements that let recruiters know your strongest skill, but without context, personal branding statements can hang like wet laundry on a humid day. I’m often reminded of beauty pageant contestants’ vapid answers, “I personally believe that people around the world should try to understand each other better.” But I digress.
When you’re in the real working world, people may not care how you label yourself; they want you to get work done. I once was helping an investment analyst with a stock pitch, and he started the session by telling me “My personal brand is that my quiet, introspective personality gives me a unique ability to be laser focused in decision making.” I listened attentively, wondered how long it took for him to craft that message in those precise words in that precise order, smiled, and told him that he shouldn’t say that to anyone else.
I personally believe, whoops sorry, that people should know their unique strengths, but once you’re at work, you don’t have to wear a statement plastered on your forehead (or in your email signature). Here are reasons to put the branding statement away.
Actions speak louder that words. Show me, don’t just tell me how you provide value.
Your statement can limit you. Saying that you’re an expert at one skill can make people think you can’t do anything else.
Some statements can be totally irrelevant. In my example, his audience couldn’t give a damn about his personal brand; they just want to hear a good stock pitch.
Congratulations on knowing yourself and your strengths. Now demonstrate that you can be a great asset to your team by proving it.