The Importance of Your Personal Brand

originally posted on Concept Hub

I often refer to things I learned from my first profession as an IT recruiter. Oftentimes I am asked who I worked for. That is when I shift from foot to foot and try to figure out how to answer such a simple question when the answer is not that simple.

Let’s see, the parent company was MAGIC, which stood for management alliance group of independent companies, but the publicly traded company was something else.

I was hired by CFSi – which had built itself up as a Financial recruiting agency, but switch to IT recruiting, so the letters had no meaning. We jokingly called it Chicken Fried Steak inc. Then we finally switch the name AND brand to the Technology Alliance Group, which of course had more meaning, but lasted less than a year. Ultimately I worked under the DMSR brand, which stood for Data Management & Staff Recruiters.

Through all of that, everything I had learned about branding and marketing in school was shattered and from the chaos came a solid understanding of the importance of my personal brand.

I was taught that companies were doing business with me and they really did not care who I worked for. This was proved to me when I switched over to DMSR and had been there for several months. One of my long-time clients had switched their accounting process and had to ask me who I worked for. We had been working together for 2 years, but they did not know who I worked for.

One of my advisers, David Cohen, is very passionate about the idea of developing your personal brand. I had the pleasure of passing his advice on this past week when I was presenting to 90+ people at the TAG Consulting Society.

The topic was, of course, about social networking or what I sometimes refer to as “networking in your PJs.” I was asked about the line between our personal lives online and our business lives and expertise. I had 3 responses to that.

1. I referenced my experience waiting on tables (another job I learned a lot from). I mentioned how I was a very good waitress but had the bad habit of not introducing myself. My husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) convinced me that people tip better when you allow them to get to know you a little and that starts with telling them your name. To me, people were there to get served their meals, but I learned that service came with an experience, which was uniquely based on each server’s personal brand.

2. I asked how many people networked prior to the meeting. Of course everyone…so I asked during those conversations did they say anything personal about themselves, whether it was what the did over the weekend, restaurants they like, information about their family. We all blend our personal lives into our networking. It is how we connect on a more human level.

3. The final point was when I referenced my wise and talented adviser and said that what I learned from him is that if my clients are expecting a personality other than the one I have, I can not help them and we would be wasting our time.

Not only is it OK that people can find your hobbies and interests alongside your talents and expertise, but it will also enhance your business. You will have the opportunity to connect with your clients on many different levels, you will weed out those clients that will struggle to understand you, and your business will be that much more enjoyable.

I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing Chris Heuer speak at BlogOrlando a few months ago. His topic was Business is Personal (again?)

I would like to share some information from one of his slides.

For a very long time, we have tried to separate our emotions from our work life, but the world is evolving towards greater and greater personal expression – think about what the MySpace generation will do when it enters the workforce

Have you ever tried to “manage” a relationship with a spouse or loved one? Perhaps that is why it doesn’t work with customers either

Abstract terms like audiences and targets are designed to remove our humanity from business, but more and more people are tiring of being called users and audiences and are demanding their humanity be respected

Do you want to work with anyone you personally do not like or respect?

Me neither

This is a message that more and more business professionals need to consider. What a Concept! has sponsored Chris to be the keynote at SoCon08 where we will talk about the opportunities of social media, but with the understanding that the biggest opportunity that social media has enabled is to re-humanize the business world and to enrich each one of our lives.

Chris told me that after each presentation someone usually comes up to him and tells him his ideas are great and MAYBE one day we will get there. One day? he says. We can be there now if we just decide to.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

– John Lennon




Great post. Love the “networking in your pjs” bit.

Posted by: Tony Stubblebine | January 20, 2008 at 06:24 PM

Excellent post Sherry – thank you so much for inviting me down to SoCon – I am really looking forward to the opportunity to connect with more great folks like yourself from the South!

Am not sure you ever saw my post on The Noble Pursuit, so I wanted to share it with you in the context of what you are referencing above –

Posted by: Chris Heuer | January 21, 2008 at 08:34 PM


Queen Elizabeth triggered two very important concepts. The first was Britannia, the second the modern corporation.

Since the XVI that corporations have been evolving flourishing and in the 20th century, Britannia’s most successful off-spring, fine tuned it to “perfection” and exported as a gospel to all corners of the world.

Today’s concept of an organization is based on intuitive and easy to understand concept – average. If your organization hires Accenture or IBM, you have average possibility of getting your work done because these companies hire enough people which they sprinkle with real talent, so their AVERAGE of knowledge delivers the expected results.

Then came the internet and the experts within these organizations, as well as the newer generations started to shift the paradigm. Now it is possible to use the internet to build virtual corporations, which are made by the people you know (and recommend you) and that have worked by your side.

We have turned the organization inside out!

How many of the “inside-out” organizations can we look at any given time and decide which one to use??!? In the times of few organizations, it was easier… all it was necessary was to open an newspaper and allow marketing to do its work. What now?

Yes you guessed it! We need a way to REALLY capture whether of not these new-organization are doing what they say they are and that they are leaving behind happy customers.

In other words, we need a way to capture millions of EVENTS which will allow people to make their own interpretations.

So, looking at a personal brand is a way to go. Just make realize that pretty soon, there will be new engines that will determine whether of not what you say you matches with the results.

You will not be able to hide. Take the progress with all the good and the bad. Once you take, you cannot give it back…