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Re-thinking You: The Rise of Personal Branding

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Personal branding is all the rage right now. As social media continues to be discovered and embraced more and more by the mainstream, how we represent ourselves across channels is becoming increasingly important. And now given the shaky economy, many are flocking to social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to give their online presence and edge.

This interest in personal branding has given rise to many opinion leaders like Dan Schawbel and Rob Cuesta. Even Chris Brogan, with his eBook on Personal Branding, and David Armano with Brand U.0, have jumped in to take a swing at the importance of personal branding.

The Brand YU Life: Re-thinking who you are through personal brand management by Hajj E. FlemingsOf all the voices advocating personal branding, I’ve found the most relevance with Hajj E. Flemings. Hajj is a dynamic speaker, and author of The Brand YU Life: Re-thinking Who You Are. After reading his book I would say that he presents a complete view of personal branding that focuses on building your personal brand online and off.

Hajj understands that there are a lot of tools out there to power your personal brand, but they are just that….tools. Here is a slide from his presentation at Brand Camp University, which he hosted last month in Detroit. It illustrates how the touchpoints of your personal brand exist online and offline, and for those of you with little presence online, how increasingly important your digital footprint is becoming for your personal brand.

Personal Brand Footprint by Hajj E. Flemings

In his book, Hajj presents 6 steps to personal brand management:

  1. Identify your passion
  2. Define your mission
  3. Count the cost
  4. Create your voice
  5. Develop your core
  6. Be authentic
  7. Shift to now

These steps accompanied with enticing visuals and engaging stories of brand successes and failures makes The Brand YU Life a worthwhile read that I recommend to anyone wanting to create, define, and manage their personal brand.

(Stay tuned the next few days for an interview with Hajj to hear more of his thoughts on personal branding.)

  1. Chris, great blog – I love the clean nature of the design and content! Being a god friend of Hajjs’ all the way from Sydney, Australia, I can vouch for the quality of his work! I especially support the comment that ‘many of the tools are just that…tools’ There needs to be more content and thinking on how to develop a personal brand, and less on how to communicate a personal brand!

  2. Absolutely. One of the hardest things in working with clients is that they want to skip straight to the communication part. Thinking about your brand is the hardest part. In particular because it often means letting go of things that you’ve allowed to define you in the past, but which may make your brand “fuzzy”. A lot of books on personal branding focus on the communications aspect because that’s the “fun” bit, and you can get a lot of “stuff” done quickly. Developing a brand is a slow, thoughtful process, and it can be a long time before you see where it’s all going. But it’s like laying down the foundations of a new building: you have to dig deep, and 90% of what you’re laying down won’t be seen by anyone else, but it needs to be there, underpinning what you’ll build on top of it, otherwise it won’t stand up!

  3. Great thoughts on personal branding Chris. I’ve heard good things about Hajj’s Brand Camp University and really enjoy the thoughts of all the people you mentioned above. I think the rise of social media has really changed the game because people now have the power to market themselves, specifically online. It will be interesting to see where all this goes over the next few years.

  4. Great comments, however, this ‘rage’ is here to stay.

  5. Agreed. A Google Trend search shows the prominence and growth of the term “Google CV” since 2005, so personal branding is certainly something which people are becoming more familiar with.

    However, as stated, it’s not just the communication of the brand but rather the initial development of the brand which is most important, and getting people to understand this will be the next step in the evolutionary process.

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