Who Said Personal Brand Isn't Important?

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Personal Brand. Is it important or is it not? Some say it is super valuable and is the doorway to other opportunities. Still others say that personal brand is a waste of time and a distraction from the core mission of a company. Which of these sentiments seem most important to you?

The United States Olympic Committee took a black eye today when pictures of a 14-time gold medal winner smoking a bong emerged on the internet.

Speedo, concerned about fallout from recent photos of a spokesman smoking marijuana at a college house party, considered yanking his endorsement contract.

Michael Phelps, America’s swimming legend, who has secured a record 14 gold medals is in danger of losing endorsement contracts and be banned from competing in the 2012 London Olympics.
81972649RB208_Olympics_Day_If you are thinking about this the same way I am, you recognize that the most damaging sentiment to the greater public is the third. Sure, Speedo investors might be concerned about a hit to the reputation of the Speedo gear, but probably not. I mean, really? The USOC is used to being rocked by scandal, so that brand is already pretty worthless.

But Mike Phelps? He’s an icon. He makes girls swoon and guys try to be like him. He’s a legend in his own time, possibly eclipsing Lance Armstrong or even Tiger Woods.

And he has a history of getting in trouble with substance abuse. Four years ago, at the illegal drinking age of 19, he was arrested for DUI. He made mends, so we thought, and did good by the community by making frequent visits to high schools and preaching the sins of alcohol abuse. He was reformed and America wanted to buy into his brand. His personal brand.

Then the news of him being a 23 year old and doing the college party scene, hitting the booze hard and then happily accepting a bong in, what some observers called, a well-practiced hit. (Click the link to see the incriminating photo which, Phelps now admits is real).

Coming full circle, I respectfully submit, that personal brand might be one of the most important aspects to any business. How you are perceived directly impacts your company. Just as my friendship with Shashi, creates positive karma for Network Solutions, or President Obama’s personal brand has transformed Democratic politics.

Personal brand is not dead. It is very much alive.

Photo Credit: [MarcoPako via Flickr]

Are People Talking About You?

This article is modified and republished from the September 28, 2007 How Much Do People Talk About You?.

In today’s day and age of “dog eat dog” and marketing and getting ahead and SEO and linkbaiting” – how much do people talk about you? Better yet, how often do you talk about other people. Picture the situation. You’re standing around in a crowded bar at a social event after a conference. There are 150 people standing around in various states – some drunk, some not. Everyone’s talking. Most likely, they are talking about some hot button issue in whatever industry you’re in. They might be talking about their newest product or pitching a potential partner. Business cards are exchanged as frequently as George Bush tells us to “Stay the Course”.

In one conversation, an industry expert is referred to and the four people participating in that conversation laugh and nod. In another conversation, another industry experts new startup is opined about and everyone questions the business model. The point is, people are talking about these other people and conversation is flowing. Those people are not present. Can’t give business cards. Can’t pitch their product. Can’t talk about their new experience or their new lines of thinking. Yet, their messages are getting out. For better or for worse, their personal brand is alive and well and well represented in this crowd.

There’s a misconception in blogging and similar industries that if you produce good content, people will come. While that is true to a certain extent, that theory will never amount to much in the broad scope of things. how many web developers are out there? How many people do wedding photography? how many people write 500-750 word posts once a week that are thoughtful and well written, but nobody knows about?

Let me answer that question: A lot.

And why?

It’s important to create great “stuff” (define “stuff” for yourself). It’s really important to stand out above the crowd. It’s more important to get other people talking about you. You are a brand. You are a subject matter expert. Well, you have the potential to be a subject matter expert. But you’re not yet. Not if no one is talking about you when you’re not around.

Here’s a thought. When you have a great idea, try to get that idea in front of other SMEs. Find ways to market yourself. Give away your knowledge. Speak at industry events. Host meetups related to your industry. Be social and network. Go drink a beer with others in your industry. When an opinion is asked for, be aggressive and share your opinion in a succinct, well-spoken manner.

In the end, you not only can produce, but you become the first person people look to for help or advice. You’re the first feed that someone reads when they open their feedreader. You do want to be the first person people come to – not just a referral. ;-)