In my world, personal branding should not be confused with self-promotion. A personal brand is something you work on many levels to build, first by getting to know yourself better and then by understanding what you want to communicate to your target audience before even opening your mouth (or posting in social media). Simply, it is a vision. When you do open your mouth, it becomes all about the message, not about hard-selling yourself.
Here’s what other notable personal branding bloggers say:
Dan Schawbel writes: “Certainly, self-promotion is an extremely important part of building your brand because if no one knows of your achievements or the company you work for, then how are they going to do business with you?”
Jun Loayza writes: “It seems that the biggest factor separating personal branding from shameless self-promotion is value. If a person provides value with his content, then all the self-promotion is justified because people will benefit from the content.”
My experience is that once you really understand your core values and know what you want your brand image to be, then you will understand that over-promoting your services will hurt your brand. You must align your communication and overall message with your target audience, not only the message.
That said, don’t feel that it is wrong to provide information about the content that you provide. Just make sure that it is targeted to the right audience and be personal while doing it. If you work as a lawyer, your clients (and your boss) would probably like to read about the new corporate tax law that you wrote about in your blog, and perhaps your entrepreneurial friends will as well. The engineers or doctors in your network, however, may not be as interested. They might be, but be clear about why and how to communicate to them in a way that they appreciate.
I usually tweet my new blog posts, since my Twitter followers are mainly interested in personal branding and social media. Certain posts I choose to post on Facebook and in newsletters. I also send e-mails, along with a personal note, to key people that I think may be extra-interested in a certain topic. Is this self-promotion? Or is it a way of sharing my knowledge and thoughts with the people that find it interesting? I would say the latter, but if I hadn’t done the segmentation and tweaked personal notes to different audiences, then I would be working with marketing and self-promotion rather than with brand-building.
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Ola Rynge is an entrepreneur with a passion for the personal development side of personal branding (covered in this blog) as well as the application of personal branding and social media for entrepreneurs and small businesses (covered in The Rynge Blog).
His company, The Rynge Group specializes in personal branding, strategies in social media and market oriented small business and idea development.