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  • Personal Branding in the Classroom?

    I had a discussion with a friend late last night. He is an old roommate and is now in Japan doing his last semester of law school. While he is a regular reader of my blog, he actually finds personal branding very hard to understand. I’m still trying to determine whether that’s a factor of being a lawyer or perhaps that the definitions of personal branding are confusing. He wrote to me:

    “I guess I am one of those guys who doesn’t have a full grasp of the personal branding concept…. but it’s becoming so mainstream… is it something they might start teaching in schools or is it something which is inherently tied to stuff like social networking?”

    It’s a great question. How do you define it? How would you teach it? And, is this something we will begin to see in universities?

    Defining personal branding

    My friend brings up a very good point. What is personal branding? After all, just looking at the Personal Branding Blog, you will get a wealth of tips and perspectives from people who all see personal branding a bit different than the next person. At the end of the day, I think Dan Schawbel’s tag line for the blog is actually quite fitting, “Navigating YOU to future success!”. If you think about it, personal branding is all about how to be more successful using the tool, YOU.

    This blog will discuss how to be more successful through your image, through your communications, through the way you work, or through the way you influence. No matter what we discuss here, we are all focusing one singular goal; helping make you more successful.

    Personal branding in the classroom?

    Will we ever see a personal branding course taught in university?

    What would a personal branding course teach exactly? Would it be a communications course? There are already thousands of those. 516638447_461f1be3ab_m

    At the end of the day, it is in the universities’ best interests for students to personally brand themselves; it makes them look good. But, if personal branding is essentially about navigating you to success, then I’d make the case that universities already do this today. They do it by giving students solid backgrounds, educations, and a degree to help navigate their students to success. That is why I would see difficulty in creating a class on personal success.

    However, universities are still not doing enough to help their students personally brand themselves. I don’t think a personal branding course would be the answer, because I think it’s something that needs to be baked in a university’s overall strategy. It should be a mantra they preach on a daily basis. How can we ensure our students come out of here with the competitive advantage they need to succeed in the market?

    What has been your experience? Do you agree?


    Adam Salamon is Partnerships Director at Bazaarvoice, Inc., blogs about social media, entrepreneurship, and pop culture. Follow him on Twitter for daily updates.


    Adam Salamon is currently Partnerships Director at Bazaarvoice, Inc. helping support company expansion, partner evaluation, and strategy. He was a founding member of Bazaarvoice and has helped propel the company from 10 people to one of the world’s top performing start-ups and social commerce companies. Adam has extensive history in sales and business development and is an avid writer on the topics of social media, e-commerce, and marketing. You can regularly catch Adam on his blog, but he also contributes to Brazen Careerist, Personal Branding Magazine, and Bazaarblog. Adam is a proud graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, with three degrees in Government, Middle Eastern Studies, and Hebrew.

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    11 comments on “Personal Branding in the Classroom?
    1. avatar

      Hey Adam,

      I really dig your enthusiasm for and knowledge of personal branding.

      However, I must politely disagree with your idea of making personal branding the responsibility of the colleges or universities. Sure, offering a 100-level class and maybe a more intense 200-level course makes sense to me. Electives though.

      It is not the university’s responsibility to “preach” any more than personal hygiene or personal financial responsibility should be. I agree that personal hygiene and personal financial responsibility are two concepts that are pretty important, probably more important than personal branding, but I still don’t think it is the university’s responsibility to preach these topics either. At some level, the individual is the responsible party long before the university.

      Important? Yes. Worth learning? You bet. Misunderstood and rarely practiced? True. But definitely, no matter how important, the responsibility of an individual.

      If someone chooses to ignore or not practice responsible personal branding, and I have been guilty of that myself, then blame no one other than that individual — I project no blame towards someone else or some other institution.

      Keep up the good Adam.

      • avatar
        Adam Salamon says:

        Thanks for the comments, Joseph. I respectively disagree 🙂

        Universities already spend millions of dollars on making their students successful. They spend a lot of money on not only branding their university through amazing research and faculty, but by the caliber of students that come out. The part most universities don’t do (outside of business schools for the most part) is teaching their students how to create a brand and expertise.

        Like I mentioned, I don’t think personal branding should be a course; the topics are too wide and diverse. It should be part of the university’s strategy. It’s not something specific to business either. Somebody in a research role for example, needs to understand the basics of personal branding to help get published in the best journals, book the best speaking slots, secure federal grants, etc.

    2. avatar

      We Should do the distinction between personal branding taught as an academic course (as part of a degree in economics, marketing, advertising, etc.) Or Personal Branding taught as an enrichment course in order to make the student successful. In both cases – I think the universities must have Personal Branding in their curriculum

    3. avatar
      Tom Scholte says:

      Just recently I have been asked to teach personal branding at a university here in The Netherlands. The university wants to teach students to work on their distinctive attributes. The students need to learn how to position themselves and make sure they add value for their future clients or employer. So there you have your answer. Personal branding is already a course.

      • avatar
        Adam Salamon says:

        Great to hear you’re teaching a course on Personal Branding. I’m interested to hear about how the University approached you. What was the context? Which department is the course under?

    4. avatar
      Dan Schawbel says:

      Adam, great post. Personal branding in education is actually my lifetime goal. I think everyone should take a class in personal branding before graduating, starting freshman year and up until senior year. Think about how easy it would be to get a job if you know what you want to do freshman year and then build up your social networks for the next 4 years. This is required material!

      • avatar
        Adam Salamon says:

        Thanks, Dan. I think every major should have some component of personal branding ingrained into it even if there is no official Personal Branding course. It’s important to both the school and the student. Interesting to hear that Tom is teaching a course on it; I think we’ll probably see more of this. I’d like to see it extend past one course and see it as part of an overall strategy.

    5. avatar
      Raz Chorev says:

      I have to agree with Dan. PB needs to be taught at school. Students at university may not elect this course, which is a great shame. In addition, large percentage of the population will never go to university – don’t they deserve a good head start as well?
      I also believe PB is a way of life, not a course. in other words, it is a process, not an event.
      Having a course at university will have little impact, I believe.

    6. avatar
      Tom Scholte says:

      Adam, it is a design university where students used to focus on designing innovative products. Now they are taught that they can position and ‘sell’ themselves as creative and innovative services as well. Besides that they learn that whatever they make they have to add value for other people. In the past they were focused on their products and not on their potential customers.

    7. avatar

      Hi Adam! I will be teaching a PB course this semester in my university –
      Economic School of the New University in Lisbon, Portugal. It is aimed at
      master students in Economics, Finance and Management and is an enrichment
      course, where students can enroll voluntarily.
      I agree with you that most of the so called PB courses are mostly concerned
      with communication skills but it is far more than that 🙂
      I am a marketing teacher, related to consumer behavior, advertising,
      branding and the like, and always taught my students to think of themselves
      as brands, so nothing new!

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