I recently started blogging at Forbes.com under the column “personal branding.” I recommend that you subscribe/follow my Forbes blog as well because there will be some exclusive content that you won’t find anywhere else. Sometimes, I’ll be cross-posting on this blog if I deem the content to be of value to you. In this case, I feel like our new blog subscribers could really benefit from this article. There has been a lot of buzz around personal branding in the past few years, especially because of the social media explosion. Most people fail to realize that personal branding was first introduced in 1997 by Tom Peter’s pinnacle article in Fast
Company Magazine
, entitled “A Brand Called You.” There were no mentions of using social media tools for career success back  then. Today, everyone in the world can have their own profile, on a multitude of social networks, which explains the popularity of the concept. In fact, Mashable reports that 92% of American toddlers already have an online presence! You have to manage your career as a brand if you want to be successful and compete in the global economy.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process by which we unearth what makes us special and then communicate that to the right audience.

There are so many people competing for the same opportunities now. Personal branding teaches us how to stand out, be found, and align our true authentic selves with the careers of our dreams.

The new rules of personal branding

I’ve been in the personal branding field since early 2007 when most professionals didn’t understand it and weren’t actively managing their identities online. Now in 2011, the economy is much different and the impact personal branding has had on the world has been more significant. Almost everyone you know has some sort of online presence, ranging from a Facebook profile to a full-blown blog.

Here are the four new rules of personal branding that you should consider this year:

  1. Always be searching for your next big opportunity. Your brand will impact your company’s brand for better or worse. Two-thirds of employed American’s are open to new job opportunities right now, reports Jobvite.com. The new job security is online branding, where recruiters can discover you, and hire you, without a resume submission. Being proactive with your career is critical to your success because if you aren’t marketing your brand, no one will know about it.
  2. Your brand will impact your company’s brand for better or worse. Recently, Steve Jobs took a medical leave and Apple shares dropped an entire 5%! Your reputation can help or hurt your career and/or company, which means that you need to be smart about what impression you make on the world. Your digital trail of negative publicity might creep back up on you later in your career if you aren’t careful.
  3. If you have talent and you put yourself out there, anything is possible. This statement really came to life for me after Ted Williams became a celebrity from his supernatural radio voice. Not too many people go from being homeless to being on every national TV show. A single YouTube video went viral, giving him the visibility he needed to showcase his talents. You have a shot of making it big if you give yourself a chance to do so.
  4. Soft skills are becoming more important than hard skills. The 2010 Kelly Global Workforce Index shows that 66% of people feel that verbal communication skills are more important than technical knowledge at 60%. There’s so much competition for jobs that technical skills alone won’t get you hired anymore.