The Value of Personal Brand to a Business

So you just graduated from communications school. You have your business degree in public relations, or you might be a marketing major, etc. You hit the ground running with an offer from several companies looking for “young, eager professionals with a communications degree” to “engage customers with social media tools”.

Let’s cut to the chase. They want to hire a social media evangelist or a social media PR goon.

You start your job and begin to hit all the usual spots. You setup Facebook groups and fan clubs. You get a Twitter account going. You start adding bunches of people to your LinkedIn network. You make sure the company has a blog. You do all the standard things to get going.

Then something surprising happens. Nothing. Yeah, that’s right. Nothing. You end up following 1500 Twitter people and 30 of them follow you in return. This causes other people to look at friend/follower ratios and determine that you’re not “worth it” to follow.

Been there?

Your Facebook groups never get traction and the invitation to join them are ignored by people who get 30 or more invitations to something or other on Facebook and only have enough time to click “Ignore” on all of them.

Starting to sound familiar?

Your LinkedIn profile gets 300 connections – friends of friends, generally. When it comes down to hiring that marketing analyst, no one responds to your questions soliciting leads.

I know I’m talking to someone.

So what am I getting at? Networking and Personal Brand are the most important thing you can bring to a company. It’s more important than that communications degree. It’s more important than your years of experience, if that is the case. It’s more important than the company you work for.

Picture this. You’re at SXSW and you have not taken the time to cultivate your personal brand, it doesn’t matter if you are a CTO, CEO or a marketing intern – no one is coming up to you and talking to you. However, if you’ve taken the time to be a “known entity” – you blog and get a critical mass of readers, you are present and visible in the social media community or otherwise – your position, title, rank, and degree becomes irrelevant. You have a magnetism that attracts people to you. Magically.

Now, you are an asset to your company. You have people wanting to know about what your company is about? What do you do? Why do you do it? Can I get some advice?

On the flip side, companies have to understand this and not feel threatened. I’ve talked about my friend Shashi before and he is a great example of someone who has a tremendous personal brand that benefits his employer, Network Solutions. They had to give him the space to have a brand outside of his company, but the moment he became their Social Media Swami, they began seeing benefits – some more tangible than others.

12 Replies to “The Value of Personal Brand to a Business”

  1. Yep. And employees pick companies based on the brand of the companies.Am I going to work for your company if it’s got a horrible reputation? So if you run a business, along with all the other things that go into your brand, make treating your employees well part of your brand.

  2. Trying to leave a video comment. It’s totally not working. How am I supposed to grow my personal brand if there’s a broken video commenting system here!?!?! Great idea though, and great post. Will be passing it around the virtual non-office. See ya in Austin, buddy.

  3. Great post Aaron. This is something I’ve been struggling with for over a year now and I’ve had to do most of my learning through trial-and-error. Unfortunately, I think this is a topic that needs to be taught at the college level (and currently isn’t) and is definitely something that would benefit anyone in any field. Maybe you can share some more tips in Austin?

  4. Aaron this is a great piece and Tara hits on something that rings home with me. It is part of the outline of my book. How do you become a recognizable person? It’s mostly about participation, not just signing up and friending hundreds of people. It has taken me a year now to get to 1000 people I follow on Twitter. I was an early adopter before SXSW last year, but I have taken the time to grow the brand and my community. Great post. See you next week.

  5. With more and more apps geared toward getting your face, voice and quick personal thoughts into the social web, more people are expecting to put a face/personality to an organization or brand – the meaningless chatter and fluff of sparse commenting and the ‘standard practices’ of getting social media profiles online just aint cuttin it anymore. Good stuff Aaron.

  6. Really insightful post, Aaron. Something haven’t seen mentioned much around the blogosphere.

    Seems that there’s no substitute for relationships and reputation built up over time. Social media networking can introduce you, help you to hook up face-to-face at events like SXSW or BarCamp, become the basis for real-world biz relationships; and can also serve to refresh, enhance and extend real-world biz relationships that already exist.

    But, as your post makes clear to me, each enhances the other — neither can survive very well in a vacumn, least not in the fast pace that technology and social media are driving us into the future.

  7. Nice piece, Aaron.

    And the relative importance of key nodes (groups, individuals) in scale invariant social networks (BA model – thinking long tail, front end), places a premium on early personal brand equity development.

    And therefore, frequent and ongoing ‘personal’ interaction and/or association with key networkers, a.k.a., preferential attachment, whenever possible.

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