Personal Branding / Get Over Yourself!

I’m on the verge of throwing myself into the briar patch here, but here goes.

I’m a huge advocate of personal branding, but I’m not doing such a good job of it for myself. It strikes me like that phenomenon where you buy what you think is a unique car in a unique color and suddenly you see the same car everywhere. I see references to “how-to’s” for personal branding all over the place now that I’ve decided to pursue it for myself and act as an advocate for others who are trying to do the same. I also see branding opportunities all over the place for my friends as well as those I hope to call clients or flat-out employers. But I confess that I’ve been asleep at the wheel when it comes to my own needs.

That should be changing though as of this new year. Since I’m making a public declaration here to do better, I figure I’m committed. It’s not like I don’t know what to do, and as ironic as it may seem, I’ve been reluctant to offer my thoughts up to public examination. I mean, I may have been a TV news guy for almost 30 years, but who cares what I think? I think the hold up has been the level of my own sense of self-importance, or lack thereof. Then again, maybe it’s a hold over from a lifetime of journalism. We J-students were conditioned from the get-go to realize that we were not the story. We were observers, interpreters and storytellers, not instigators.

So, this has made me think a lot more about the reluctance of companies and individuals who are also slow to jump into the social media waters. Once you launch yourself into the fray of ideas, it’s sink or swim, right? Well, not really. There are ways to slowly glide into the shallow end of the pool.

The trick is involvement. I spent so much time consuming online information that I neglected offering thoughtful observation to the other side of the equation. Thanks to my buddies at Experience Farm, I’ve learned that a painless (yet effective) way to get your social media toes wet, adds only one step to what you’ve already been doing. If you have a favorite blog or two you like to visit, you only have to be brave enough to offer an opinion or a thank you, or a comment. Be part of the conversation. Brand yourself as a thoughtful, sharing, observant part of the conversation. The rest should follow naturally at your own pace.

For this personal branding thing to work, we all have to think in more than one dimension of communication. Being part of the interaction gives the exchange depth, and the richness it deserves. That’s not to say that whatever I have to offer is wondrous sage advice, but who knows, it just might spur someone else to out there (with more wisdom than most of us) to share.

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