What does your personal brand say about you?

A post on LinkedIn this morning practically caused me to spit out my coffee.  It included this photo:

Now, I don’t know if this is an actual letter or a hoax.  I truly hope it’s fake, since the alternative is unthinkable.  Regardless, it’s a good reminder of the importance of your personal brand — and how fragile it is.

Just as with corporate brands, our personal brand represents us.  It is the sum total of the perceptions others have based on our speech, dress, behavior, etc.  And just as with corporate brands, our personal brands are susceptible to being tarnished very quickly.  Think Mel Gibson, Jared the Subway Guy, and Lance Armstrong.  Closer to home, I think of my colleague who recently mailed an impressive promotional package for his company to a specific prospect.  He had spent quite a bit of time putting it together, including a handwritten note and various items he thought would be helpful.  When he didn’t receive an acknowledgement, let alone a word of appreciation, his previously benevolent feelings toward the recipient changed dramatically.  “I understand that people are busy,” he said, “but am I not even worth a quick email?”  Now and forever, my colleague will think poorly of that individual when a brief note of thanks could have made all the difference.

The writer of the letter above (assuming it’s legit) clearly has no awareness of the harm he is doing to his personal brand.  Although he may feel he’s being appropriately aggressive in his job search, the result is completely off-key.  Not only has he practically assured himself of not getting the position, but his intelligence and temperament will be questioned by everyone who reads it.    And while the recipient of my colleague’s package may never know it, her lack of common courtesy sucked the enthusiasm right out of someone who’d been a strong advocate.  That’s the delicate nature of a personal brand: we may not realize when or with whom it’s been damaged until it’s too late to fix.

Author and management guru Tom Peters once said, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”  It’s quite literally the most valuable brand in the world, one that has the potential to grow or diminish every moment of every day.

And so I ask you: what can you do to strengthen yours right now?

Mike’s Notes

My band Flip Like Wilson will be performing THIS Saturday evening, June 11, at Valley Beach inside the Valley Forge Casino.  Please come out and join us for a great night of music!  More information: https://www.vfcasino.com/nightlife/valley-pool/