The Importance of “Purpose” with Personal Branding

So much talk about personal branding. Yet so many of us genuinely suck at what is labeled a “critical” job search skill.

And for one simple reason: our endgame is unclear: we have failed to identify – and in some cases, even think about – our purpose for personal branding.

“Simple,” you may say… “my ‘purpose’ is to get a job”. So you create a Linkedin account, and lurk on twitter chats. You get an page and join BeKnown and Google+. Depending on your chosen career field, you may even develop an online portfolio to show off your work, blogs and your smiling face in a professional headshot. You are the perfect personal brand.

And yet… you don’t receive a single job offer.

Here’s what you may not realize: The purpose of personal branding is NOT to get a job. Not one recruiter ever said, “Ooh, this guys’ personal branding is really good. I’ve never heard of him, but I’m going to call and offer him a job!”

With that in mind, here are three tips to getting the most out of your personal branding efforts:

1.  Determine What You Want to SELL

If you don’t know what you want to sell – no one is going to buy. And, despite what most people seem to think about personal branding, you are NOT selling YOU. You are selling your ability to do a specific job within an existing company culture.

Try to be everything to everybody, and your personal brand is doomed for failure. Be too specific, and you’ll be seen as rigid and less than a team player. Find the right balance. Include a conservative yet professional picture. Most important, SELL how YOU would help accomplish the goals of the employer.

2.  Know that Personal Branding is NOT a Standalone Task

You can have the best possible branding; if no one sees it you’re just getting sucked into yet another round of false expectations and disappointments. Just like those hundreds of resumes sent through that mega job board without a single call back… you’re wasting your job seeking time.

Personal branding is only effective when combined with networking and hard work! No matter how introverted you may be, or how uncomfortable you may feel in public arenas meeting new people, you must take baby steps toward becoming a networking phenom – or your personal branding falls on deaf ears.

3.  Set Quantitative Goals to Drive Eyes to Your Brand

It’s easy to set goals for your personal branding – and networking. Todd Herschberg, one of the most connected people on Linkedin, says it really comes down to working a plan: “Add two or three new Linkedin contacts a day. In three to four months, the minimum time frame of an average job search, you’ll add 200 to 300 new contacts and influencers who may be tempted to recommend you next time they hear about an opportunity.”

Goal setting can apply to just about every other aspect of your job seeking efforts including twitter, face-to-face networking, and building mentor relationships – all critical tasks that will result in more views of the personal brand you’ve worked so hard to create.

Despite the hype by buzzword chieftains, and the strong emphasis placed on personal branding, this is not some golden ticket to getting a job. Instead, personal branding is just one more important weapon in your candidate arsenal.

Determine what you want to sell, incorporate networking and a little elbow grease and set achievable goals. Now, your personal branding will soar above your job seeking competition – and you’ll avoid yet another job seeker black hole.

Tricks to Maximize Your Time on Social Media

So, you’re all connected and set up with Twitter, but now what? You know that Twitter is a great way to expand your business and gain more clients, but how can you maximize your time on this social media website? To find out, continue reading this article. Throughout, I will talk about several different cool tricks to maximize your time on social media.

1. Tweetchat

One of the best cool tricks to maximize your time on social media is through Tweetchat.  Using Tweetchat is easy. First, log in using your Twitter ID and password. Then, choose a hashtag that you would like to follow. What is a hashtag? A hashtag is a specific topic. Once you select a hashtag, you will be connected to people who are talking about similar things related to that topic. By using Tweetchat you can easily maximize your time on Twitter, connecting with users who may be interested in your product or service.

2. Hootsuite

Another one of our cool tricks to maximize your time on social media is Hootsuite. Hootsuite, a Twitter toolbar, allows you to manage your entire Twitter account from one interface. Not only does it allow you to manage your Twitter account, but it also allows you to manage other social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. By using Hootsuite, you will easily be able to manage multiple accounts while at the same time identifying and multiplying your audience, distributing messages, launching marketing campaigns, monitoring keywords, and keeping track of your success.

3. Twitter lists

If you want to know cool tricks to maximize your time on social media, you will also want to consider using Twitter lists. A Twitter list allows you to organize your contacts into groups (or “lists”). If you click on a particular list, any Tweets from users in this list will be displayed. Twitter lists are easy to create and are very helpful in keeping your Tweets and contacts organized.

4. Goals

If you want to maximize your time on Twitter, you will need to create goals for yourself. Why are you on Twitter? What results are you looking for? Only after you answer these questions can you begin to use Twitter to your advantage. If, for example, you want to use Twitter to find new clients, you may consider using Tweetchat or  Twitter search. If, on the other hand, you already have a large following and would like to use Twitter to keep clients, you may use it to update them about sales and deals.

5. Targeted Following

One of the best things about Twitter is that you can follow anyone you want even if they choose not to follow you back. For businesses, this is a great advantage as it allows them to generate a targeted following. If, for example, you were running a Nike business, you could easy check Adidas Twitter page. By doing so, you can see who is following Adidas (and therefore who is interested in sports clothing) and add them to your follow list in hopes that they will begin to follow you as well, thereby gaining you potential business.

6. Search

The final of our cool tricks to maximize your time on social media is Twitter Search. You can use Twitter search to find people who may be interested in your product or service. You can also use it to find competitors, check out what competitors are doing, and use this information to better your own business.

Twitter is a great way to expand your client base, but if you are going to use it you need to know how to maximize your time. Use the above cool tricks to maximize your time on social media and watch your business boom!

Silvia Pencak

The Most Bizarre Job Seeker Stunts

What would you do to get your dream job? Bribe the employer with food or gifts? Hit on the hiring manager? Become a stalker?

Job seekers will do almost anything to stand out among the competition. There is no length a candidate won’t go to and no line someone won’t cross in order to get a job. Hiring managers nationwide see it all and have shared the most unconventional methods job seekers have used to grab the employers attention in one of’s “How to Get in the Front Door” survey.

While some candidates efforts were effective and impressive – like giving a PowerPoint presentation, distributing a portfolio of their work on a CD, and offering to work for a day to demonstrate their talents – others’ completely missed the mark and were complete turn-offs.

Here are a few of these examples:

One candidate called incessantly for weeks before and after the position was filled. Another clueless candidate asked for another interview after being told that the job was filled. One job seeker brought coffee for the entire office, while another asked the interviewer out to dinner.

If you think these examples are weird, here are some of the most bizarre things job seekers did to try and get noticed/hired:

  • Wore a tuxedo.
  • Used a celebrity official fan site as one of their portfolio accomplishments.
  • Brought a baby gift to the interviewer who was pregnant.
  • Sat next to the hiring manager in a church pew.
  • Left Yankee tickets for the interviewer.
  • Sent a nude photo of himself to the hiring manager.
  • Tried to do a stand-up comedy routine.
  • Waited for the hiring manager at his car.
  • Came dressed as a cat.
  • Said they “smiled on command.”
  • Applicant’s very first question to me was “Do you discriminate against someone who has been convicted of attempted murder?”
  • A job application was sent in completely ripped to shreds and taped back together. Stained brown. I hope it was coffee.
  • Applicant asked if she could fill out her own written reference for herself.
  • Applicant sent about 45 pages of personal documentation (military records, letters of recommendation, good citizenship awards) along with the application.
  • A guy pulled out a guitar and started singing to the interviewer during the interview.
  • Following the interview, one candidate sent a heart-shaped balloon and box. When the interviewer open the box the note said “If you’re looking for a candidate that rises above the rest that you’ll love, remember me.”
  • Candidate asked for a cigarette during the interview.
  • A mother brought her two young children to the interview (ages 2 and 4).
  • A lady apologized for being a few minutes late the interview and explained that she was at her husband’s funeral.
  • One candidate when asked “Why did you leave your last job?” answered “Because the HR guy was a f***ing idiot”.
  • An employer was interviewing a young lady when her cell phone rang. She took the call, and the conversation went like this: “Hey, what’s up?…I’m interviewing for a job…I don’t know what the name of the company is……No, I don’t know what they do…..the job I’m trying for is Information sh*t, it really is.”
  • One employer asked for e-mails on their job applications and saw the following e-mail addresses on two of them: “” and “”
  • An applicant who wouldn’t take a typing test because the keyboard was black.
  • In hoping to help diversify the company, one man came to the interview as a drag queen.

Multiple people are vying for the same open positions in most situations. Trying something out of the ordinary to market your skills and accomplishments can give you an edge over other applicants. The key to executing effectively and making yourself memorable for the right reasons is coupling creativity with professionalism and persistence.

How to Maintain the Right Posture for a Job Interview

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.   In a job interview, body language is worth an entire feature- length film.

According to research by L. Huang and associates, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and published in Psychological Science,  your posture speaks volumes about whether you are a take-charge, in-control person–or a “yes” man or woman. This research validates what I have been teaching for many years in my career development courses:  how you sit or stand produces behavioral changes in you and the people around you.

For example, if you take up a lot of space when you sit, messages are sent to your brain that make you feel more powerful.  Subsequently, those around you also perceive you to be more authoritative and powerful.

But body posture alone isn’t the only thing that can help (or hurt) you in a job interview.  Here are some body language tips to help you non-verbally ace the interview…

1.        Sit up straight.  Do what your mama told you, and don’t slouch.  Slouching portrays lack of interest, lack of confidence and a poor work ethic.

2.        Make – and maintain – eye contact.  I’ve had mock job interviews with clients who would look down at the floor, up at the ceiling, out the window, or at my desk when answering interview questions.  Making eye contact shows that you have confidence and, perhaps more important, that you are honest.   But here’s a caveat to eye contact:  hold it for too long, and you come off as creepy;  if you don’t hold it long enough, you come off as “shifty” and non-trustworthy.

So, what’s an interviewee to do?  As a general rule, maintain eye contact with someone for at least four seconds before looking away.  If you don’t want to have to count “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two…” in your head  until you get to four seconds, just look at the person’s eyes long enough to know what color they are—that’s about three to four seconds.

3.       Lean forward.  If you lean in as the other person is speaking, it shows interest.  When you lean forward as you answer your questions, it shows enthusiasm.

4.       Don’t move around when you are being asked a question.  This tip comes from my days as a jury consultant.  If you move around as you are being asked a question,  you send the impression that you are uncomfortable with the question, and are literally “squirming.”   The same holds true for taking a sip of coffee or water:  don’t do it while you are being asked a question.  If you need to shift your body weight, or take a sip of water, do it after you have answered  the question–and just before the interviewer asks another question.

5.       Use animated facial expressions.  Often someone will demonstrate appropriate and enthusiastic body language, but have a stone-cold facial expression throughout the interview.  Smile throughout the interview.  Also, open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the “eyebrow flash” — the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgement.  The eyebrow flash builds rapport quickly, and enhances your likeability factor.

6.       Master the art of the handshake.  Such a simple act can go wrong in so many ways!  Have you ever had a bone-crushing handshake?  How about that was wimpy?  Or one where the person wouldn’t let go of your hand?

The first thing to master in the handshake is timing.  Wait until the introduction is finished before extending your hand.  If you extend your hand too quickly, the perception is that you’re like a bad used car salesman—pushy, and a bad listener.

Next, deliver the handshake with a smile and eye contact.  Make the grip firm, but not bone-crushing.

Finally, start and stop the handshake crisply.  It should be no longer than three seconds, and no more than three pumps of the arm.

Of course, landing a job also requires that you have the skills, experience, and attitude for the position.  But tweaking your body language can help start the interview off on the right foot, and increase rapport with your interviewer.

10 Things That Can Hold You Back From Great Success

If I could show you how you can become an outrageous success, would you be interested?

You see, human beings are naturally happy when everything negative is removed. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball underwater. As soon as you let go, it pops back up to the surface. So imagine yourself being a success and all that it brings with it. It feels good, doesn’t it? You can have that, and much more, if you would just let go of the things that hold you back.

1. Lack of Vision

The number one thing that holds most people back is lack of vision. You have to get a clear image in your mind’s eye about what success means to you. I’m not talking about having tons of money, five cars, and a huge house somewhere expensive. I’m talking about the life that you truly want to live. Think about how you would feel if you already had all that. In the end all we want is to feel good now.

2.  Negative Expectations

We’ve been conditioned to talk negatively to ourselves all day long. Some people don’t believe in affirmations, but they go around telling themselves that they aren’t good enough, that they can’t accomplish anything, and that nothing is worth doing. Try saying those things to yourself right now and see how you feel. Positive expectations will make good things happen.

3.  Blame

There’s no one to blame. You alone are responsible for not only the business success you have, but also how much you enjoy life right now. Even if someone did something wrong to you in the past, it doesn’t mean that you have to be mad at them for the rest of your life. The only one suffering from you blaming others is you.

4.  Negative Beliefs

Everyone has their own set of negative beliefs. Figure out what yours are and start letting them go. There are a lot of ways out there that you can use to let go your negative beliefs. Many of them work. I personally help people do just this with NLP and sometimes EFT and the results are powerful, but the change starts with you making the decision. The problem is that most people like their negative beliefs, because they have benefits and feel familiar. They haven’t realized that by letting go of these negative beliefs, you can feel even better and become even more successful.

5.  Familiarity

Familiarity holds everyone back, because feeling like you’re safe and comfortable is nice, but it ultimately keeps you stuck. And it’s nowhere near as nice as when you take action, face your fears, and build a life that you truly desire. Feeling uncomfortable when you do something new is a part of the game. It’s just a sign that you’re changing and making progress.

6.  No Trust

It’s essential that you trust the process. You don’t have to know exactly how you’re going to earn more and become more successful. Your heart already knows where to go. Listen to your heart and follow your highest excitement. Trust yourself, because you are the only one who knows what’s right for you.

7.  Lack of Focus

Another big stumbling block that may hold you back from outrageous success is the lack of focus. You have to have smart goals. If you begin a new project or start a new business, you have to put on the blinders and focus on nothing else. I’ve found that the more I focus, the better I do. It’s easy to get distracted and sidetracked, I get that, but if you want success, you have to have laser-sharp focus.

8.  Wrong View of Happiness

Happiness doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from the inside. Think about what you truly want when it comes to business success, and ask yourself what that will give you that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Keep asking that question until you reach the end, which is usually peace of mind, happiness, joy, or something like fulfillment. The truth of the matter is that we all want to feel good, and we can feel good right away. You don’t have to get stuff or accomplish things to do so.

9.  Settling for Mediocrity

This goes hand in hand with familiarity. It’s easy to settle for mediocrity, because you may have felt that you weren’t good enough up until now. You can change that whenever you want. Success isn’t what you thought it was. It can be fun and enjoyable. Everything we believe is just a map of reality, and the map is never the territory.

10.  Passion Procrastination

The most successful people are those who are passionate about what they do. Now, there are people out there that don’t love what they do and are widely successful. The only problem with them is that they kind of hate life. Being successful is not about making a lot of money, it’s about doing what you love, and feeling fulfilled. The funny thing is that when you do something you love and get really good at it, the money tends to follow.

You can become an outrageous success. All you have to do is make the decision today.

Personal Branding: The 5 P’s of Blogging


For the individual, blogging in my opinion is an absolute must to help define and control your personal brand.  Blogs are a great way for companies and clients to learn more about you outside of your professional resume or social profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.  Blogs can be the difference maker for job seekers and are the Resume 2.0.

The 5 P’s of Blogging are similar to, yet fundamentally different from the 5 P’s of Marketing you might remember from your undergrad marketing class.

  • Purpose. Your blog as a corporation, collaboration, or person must have a purpose.  Similar to a corporate mission statement, your blog’s goal must be defined. And like any marketing or branding tool, it must be developed to attract and inform a particular segment of that target audience or market that you have defined.  Too often, we start a blog without the proper research or understanding of what we want to write about or who we want to engage.  Developing and defining your purpose is by far the most important step.
  • Platform. The decision to create a blog starts with the decision to use a blogging platform or service.  I encourage you to play with some of the platforms before you make this decision.  I say this from my own experience.  My first blog, is on a free platform called WordPress.  Another common blog platform is TypePad.
  • Planning. Hands down your first 10 blog posts are the hardest so it is important for you to plan, research, and prepare for these first few articles.  This is an important part of defining your blog’s writing style, your own style, and setting up the structure surrounding how often, who, and when your blog will release its posts.  If you have a collaborative, corporate blog, I encourage you to work with at least 4 bloggers who will commit to writing at least one-three blog posts every two weeks.  Personally, I commit to no less than 12 blog posts a month myself.
  • People. After Purpose, this is the most important step.  People are the social aspect of blogging.  Ask your entire company to help you promote leveraging their own networks.  Setting up a simple RSS feed or newletter can help leverage your contacts both inside and outside the company as well.  Both these tools allow persons to subscribe to your blog updates while keeping your brand and company at the top of their mind.  Blogging should be a two way conversation and I encourage you to keep the comments open both good and bad.  Candidates realize that companies aren’t perfect and its the conversation and culture that sets companies apart.
  • Promotion. Promoting my blog on social networks is a huge part of my blog’s success.  I recommend using social bookmarketing sites to promote your blog like Digg, Stumbleupon, Technorati, and LinkedIn Groups in addition to popular social platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  Your marketing department is key in helping your blog gain momentum and popularity as they are experienced in online press releases with services like Pitch Engine.

Want to bring a corporate, personal, or professional blog to my (and everyone else’s!) attention?  Leave a comment below and recognize a job well done.

Go Public on Google+ for the Best Personal Branding

Google+ gives users almost complete control over how public they make their profiles and posts. If you plan to use Google+ as a personal branding tool, go public more often than not.



Google+ profiles are searchable from within Google+ and on No one needs to be a member of any network to find your profile. No one needs to pay a fee to find your profile. Thus, the more public you make your profile, the more findable you will be. Learn more here.


Your Google+ posts can be as private or public as you choose to make them. When you post publicly:

  1. Your posts become searchable by For more excellent information on ensuring that indexes your posts, see this.
  2. Your posts show on your public profile. If you don’t have any posts on your profile, the people checking you out will be less inclined to circle you because you won’t look active.

How do you make your posts public? Type “public” in the post’s Share box.


If you’re using Google+ as part of your personal branding efforts, go public to ensure that people can find your profile and your posts.

How to Develop a Company Prospecting List Using LinkedIn…

Today, I wanted to give you a starting point for your job search. You can research industries and the companies on many different search type engines, but one of my favorites is LinkedIn (if you are just getting started on LinkedIn, read “Does Your LinkedIn Profile Get a Passing Grade? 5 Tips for a Captivating Profile”). I am going to walk you through the initial steps of how you can start your job search by compiling a prospecting list. You want to develop a list of your Tier A, Tier B, and Tier C companies, so you can better organize your job searching efforts.


  1. Go to and sign in.
  2. Click on the “Companies” Tab.
  3. In the “Company Name or Keyword,” type in the Industry keyword. If you want to narrow your search, include the postal code. For example, I typed in “Aerospace” for the industry and my zip code to narrow my search results.
  4. Click “Search Companies.”
  5. On the left-hand side, you can modify your search results. For example, if you want to return results for companies who have job postings on LinkedIn, then click the last box on the left-hand side and click the “search” button.

LinkedIn provides some great, free information about company size, website URL, revenues, company description, and how you are connected with people who work at the company. You can follow companies of interest and receive emails when people leave the company, are hired into a position, or promoted into a new position. The interesting angle is you will also see the position vacated, thus giving you insight into a possible “hidden job market.”

On the company page, you can click, “Check Out Insightful Statistics About {Company’s Name} Employees.” Here, you will see where that company’s employees worked prior to being hired. Why is this helpful? You might discover other companies you never considered or knew about to include on your job searching prospecting list. The companies are generally hyperlinked, so you can learn more about a particular company on their company page.

In conclusion, develop your prospecting list by utilizing this relatively new LinkedIn feature and then categorize the companies by priority (A, B, or C).

Posted on | July 11, 2011 | by Kristen Jacoway |

Everything I Need to Know About Personal Branding I Learned From Mr. Rogers

July 13, 2011 By

I’m a huge Mr. Rogers fan. I try to live my life by what I learned when I was five years old.

I’ve often been accused of being a little too optimistic, too naive, or too pollyanna-ish. Personally I don’t see a problem with that, since the alternative is to be a pessimistic jerk. It doesn’t take any more effort to treat someone with respect.

I watched Mr. Rogers with my kids — and sometimes alone in my hotel room when I was traveling and away from them — and decided to model my own personal branding mission based on what Mr. Rogers taught me when I was a kid, and what he was teaching my own kids.

But everything I need to know about personal branding, I learned from Mr. Rogers.

You Are Special

Leo “the hug doctor” Buscaglia once said that you should treat everyone like they’re hurting, because they probably are. Mr. Rogers said he tried to treat everyone as if they were lovable and wanted to be loved. My goal is to treat everyone as someone special, because 1) they are, and 2) I will never know who will become someone significant later in my life.

My whole career growth in the last few years can all be traced back to one friend I met over 17 years ago, and lost track of. We met each other again six years ago, and that chance discovery online resulted in me moving down to Indianapolis in 2006, and eventually becoming a business owner. If I had written Darrin off, or never treated him as someone special, I might never have ended up in Indianapolis.

It’s YOU I Like

“It’s not the clothes you wear, it’s not the way you do your hair.” I like you, not for what you can do for me, but for the person you are. I don’t care what you do for a living, I don’t care how much money you have. Remember, you are special. Not your job, not your clothes, not your car. I couldn’t care less what you do, wear, or drive.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

I love community. I love the sense of community I get with people in my town, people in my favorite neighborhood, people in my industry, even people in my online networks. And I’ll reach out to as many people as I can in those different communities to help that network grow. I’ll even bring people from one community to another.

I meet with people in my industry at my favorite coffee shop in my favorite neighborhood. I invite people from my town to industry events. By cross-pollinating these communities, I can create one big network of awesomeness.

There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You

I’ve been listening to The Go-Giver on CD lately, and I’m getting ready to listen to Linchpin a second time. Listening to these two books, I’m reminded that my success doesn’t come from taking from others, it comes from serving them. The more I can do for people, the more that will be visited back upon me. We talk about this idea quite a bit in Branding Yourself, where we discuss the idea of Givers Gain. Givers Gain says you earn more by giving more. I can say “I Love You” by serving you in the ways that you need. Getting you to give me something doesn’t say “I love you,” it says “I see you as a means to an end.”

You’ve Got to Do It

Social media is not one of those quick fixes, no matter how much we want it to be. You can’t write one blog post, send one tweet, or like one page to find success. You need to do it over and over again. And when you’re tired of doing it, you need to do it some more.

Any kid who grew up watching Mr. Rogers is going to remember these songs and the lessons he taught us. But just because we grew up doesn’t mean these lessons are any less important. If you want to make a difference in someone else’s life, and your own, try treating people like they’re special, like you like them just for them. Invite them to be a part of your community. Show them some love. And stick with it, doing it again and again.

You’ll love the end results, and if you don’t get there, that’s okay. I’m proud of you.

Women and Personal Branding: Secrets to Grow Your Brand Effectively

If nice guys finish last, what about a self-promoting woman — Where does she end up? What do you say in response to a grandmother who constantly reminded you that “in her country, it wasn’t polite to brag”? When it comes to effective personal branding one size doesn’t fit all. The way we were raised and socialized as children and adults has a real impact on one’s ability to brand effectively.

Women and Personal Branding

The concept of personal branding – succinctly communicating the value others will experience by hiring/knowing/working with you – has been gaining popularity over the past five years. Despite first being introduced fifteen years ago (check out Tom Peters 1997 Fast Company article) personal branding has really gained momentum as social media has become more prevalent.

Lost in all the branding hubbub, is a conversation about how one’s ability to brand and self-promote can be heavily influenced by gender and culture. When I graduated law school, I was very aware of the challenges females faced on the road to partnership. Whether it is less access to business development opportunities, fewer mentors or leaving the practice to raise a family – women are not entering the law firm leadership ranks in a way that mirrors their strong presence in law school.

Networking Mistakes

In her book titled, “Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women” author Marny Lifshen lists the top ten mistakes women make in networking. Included on that list: failure to network up (#1) and diminishing the power of personal branding (#7). Now don’t get me wrong, there must be a work environment conducive for women and their advancement and professional growth; however women can play a role in their own development. A few suggestions:

  • Understand and be able to articulate in 30 seconds, what it is you do that no one else can claim to do and why you do it better than any one else.
  •  Many women pride themselves on being great listeners. Being a great listener does not mean you forfeit your right to assert your opinion. Attempt to speak up in small ways every day (at home, Starbucks, the cleaners) – so that it becomes easier and more natural.
  • Generally speaking, women enjoy relationship building but not necessarily “networking”. Sit down monthly with those you have a close relationship with and share/remind them what it is that you do and make sure they can repeat it back to you in a way you’re comfortable with. Then ask them to go out and share that information with people in their networks.

Women must shed social norms that insist women who talk about themselves are conceited or arrogant. Developing your personal brand and articulating your value to others are not “necessary evils” but the keys to your professional development- there are ways to self-promote without being shameless.

Cultural Implications

Similarly speaking, there are cultural implications to personal branding as well. Growing up as a Black kid in a majority white school, I was taught that sometimes I would have to work twice as hard just to be considered “equal”. True or not, it was so engrained into my being that I’ve carried it with me all my life. Another great example of cultural norms impacting daily routines is Malcolm Gladwell’s Korean Airlines story book, The Tipping Point. Gladwell found that cultural hierarchy and the fear of disrespecting a more senior colleague caused Korean Airlines pilots to experience a disproportionate number of aviation security problems. He concluded that strong Korean cultural norms made it very, very difficult for a junior pilot to override or merely disagree with a senior pilot – even if it led to a plan crash.

I use these examples to simply underscore the point that there are cultural norms that make promoting your accomplishments an extremely uncomfortable task. Here are few suggestions to combat that fear of branding:

  • Examine what about branding/networking/selling yourself makes you most uncomfortable. Unpack your feelings and get to the core of the issue.
  • Align yourself with someone who you believe has a strong personal brand and who is an effective networker. Watch and learn – some behaviors can be mimicked until you find your own style (remember authenticity is key).
  • Focus on raising your ‘Comfort Factor’. This is the level of comfort people have when interacting with you. Decrease the gap of a perceived difference created by diversity. Work to quickly establish common interests when talking with someone to demonstrate you are more like them than not.

It is important to remember that there are some fantastic benefits to personal branding. However, staying true to yourself and acknowledging things like gender and culture stereotypes is essential to effectively getting your message out to others.

Source: Jasmin French (