Almost everyone who is drawn to personal branding is seeking some practical result who will translate into tangible improvements for their lives. The list includes the likes of obtaining suitable employment, getting a promotion, improving our career prospects, establishing ourselves as referents or gaining influence in our field of expertise. And for those more bent on self-improvement, growing as human beings and as professionals through the crafting and development of our online personas. If more than a century ago Oscar Wilde claimed that it is not Art that imitates Life, but rather Life that imitates Art, it is also the case that we tend to become more and more like our personal brands and that they seem to exercise a magnetic pull over us. Think yourself a brilliant personal brander and you are already on your way to becoming one!
And yet with both feet firmly on the ground, we know that wishful thinking (even positive thinking!) is simply not enough. There are times when our best efforts do not seem to yield the results we hoped for, and the one million dollar question arises: SHOULD I CALL IN THE PROS? DO I NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP?
The fact is that Personal Branding is not as straightforward as many seem to think. I would go as far as asserting that most people severely underestimate its complex and comprehensive nature. It goes well beyond opening a blog or a number of accounts in the social networks, let alone having a logo or a suitable picture (helpful as undoubtedly all of these all are). Personal Branding is a philosohy – even a way of life – with its own set of principles, guidelines and specific skills to master. It requires dedication, clear objetives, more than a fair share of common sense, a nose for PR and an unfliching commitment to the best within ourselves not only for our personal gain but (in the best case scenario) for the benefit of others too.
For all those who take personal branding seriously, there seem to be three ways of handling the running of their brand: being as self-sufficient as possible, delegating it almost completely to a professional (something we are seeing increasingly happening with celebrities, media and sport personalities, senior executives, etc.) and a middle-of-the-road ‘hire as needed’ approach that uses professional help when it becomes strictly necessary. Which one is best? It obviously depends on your specific circumstances, your budget, the importance of personal branding in your life and how good you are at it. Forgive me for the stark honesty, but I have met first-class experts in almost every field of accomplishment (including – and I literally mean this – rocket scientists) who are calamitous at personal branding. On the other hand I am also acquainted with teenagers and retirees with little or no education who achieve amazing results by faithfully following some of the best practices in the business of their own accord.
In the end, the acid test for your personal brand is and always shall be results. If you have made a serious attempt at self-education – reading quality materials like this blog, following personal branding experts like Dan Schawbel, William Arruda or Peter Montoya and even investing in courses and videos – and the results are not there, then it might be a good idea to get the expert help you probably need. For some, a few enlightening sessions can be more than enough while others will need a more prolonged stint. Eventually, you may be in a position to ‘run your own show’ with enough proficiency and poise.
Just as I recently insisted on never accepting unwanted viral marketing advice from anyone who has not had provable viral marketing success, I strongly urge you to check the credibility of any self-proclaimed personal branding expert by carefully examining their own personal brand. Other than that, follow your instinct and you may well come across one of the growing number of truly helpful professionals who have your best interest at heart. In the meantime, make the most of every opportunity and available resource to learn more and put in practice personal branding lessons that can take you where you deserve to be in your career… and your life!
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is a regular contributor to several TV programs. Included in the ‘Top 70 Spanish Tweeters’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists (@OscarDS), he is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’.