Your Personal Brand

Generally speaking the term “personal branding” is the practice of positioning yourself as a commercial brand. Like Nike, Coke, Apple, you (as a professional) are also a brand. The definition of personal brand varies by industry and profession.

In a 1997 Fast Company article, “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters coined the phrase “personal branding” and declared, “Starting today you are a brand. You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.” Peters, a business management expert, is also the co-author of the best selling book, In Search of Excellence, which many consider to be one of the most important business books ever written.

To begin thinking of your professional self as a brand, ask yourself the following questions: What differentiates me as a professional? What qualities and capabilities do I want my colleagues and clients to associate with me as a professional?

Your personal brand in the workplace is how you de ne your- self as a professional and how you convey that de nition to others. It is the standard you set and maintain for yourself. Equally important, your personal brand is how colleagues and clients see you as a professional. It is important to remember that there may be a gap between how you de ne your personal brand and how others perceive it.

The Emily Post Institute

Why this resource? Emily Post is synonymous with good manners. Her descendants have continued to publish etiquette books more than 50 years after her death. The Emily Post Institute offers many free resources including articles, blogs, monthly newsletters, and a YouTube channel with a great playlist called Etiquette BitesTM. In addition to these free resources, there are low cost e-learning options for individuals and a bookstore. I recommend The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Third Edition: Personal Skills for Professional Success and Manners in the Digital World: Living Well Online.

Reading List – Managing Brand You: Seven Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self By Jerry S. Wilson and Ira Blumenthal

Why read this book? The seven steps in this book provide a roadmap for creating “Brand YOU” by employing the same concepts used in traditional commercial brand management such as brand attributes, brand essence, brand image, and brand insistence. Step one includes a brand audit to assess your current state and the book concludes with step seven, a detailed action plan to implement your Brand YOU. The authors have worked with some of the best brands on the planet including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Delta Airlines, and Marriott.


At a networking event, you will meet people for the first time and you want to give them the maximum opportunity to remember your name. Attach your nametag very high on your right lapel. Do this because you are usually extending your right hand to shake, so that side of your body will also be slightly extended forward. This makes it easier for the person to read your nametag without having to look across your body.

LinkedIn Official Blog

There is no better source of information about the most important professional networking platform in the world than the LinkedIn Official Blog. If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, go right to the source. There are hundreds of blog posts arranged by topic and searchable by keyword.

Reading List: How to Really Used LinkedIn by Jan Vermeiren


Why read the book? This book is written for a broad audience—from the LinkedIn novice to the advanced user—and includes instruction on using the tool and detailed strategies for creating your profile, building your own professional network, and engaging with groups. You can download a full copy of the book for free and access tools, videos, webinars, and self-assessment tools.


There are a lot of rules about the use of social media in the office. Some are formal rules while others are less formal, but no less important.

1. Keep messages professional—related to your work, your organization, or your industry.

2. Use casual language, but use proper English that is clear and concise.

3. Share news links, trends, and other relevant information.

4. Interact with colleagues, clients, customers, and followers.

5. Avoid slams and unprofessional language.

6. Post only appropriate photos and images. If you are not sure, don’t post.

7. AVOID USING ALL CAPS AND EMOTICONS. It can be an- noying and look unprofessional.

8. Understand the terms of use for each social media site you use for professional purposes.

9. Find examples from social media experts in your industry and learn from them.

10. Be cautious about sharing information that may be sensitive, confidential, embarrassing, or illegal. Again, if you’re not sure, don’t post.


Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Reading List: The Image of Leadership by Sylvie Di Giusto

Why read this book? In her book, The Image of Leadership: How leaders package themselves for the right reasons, Di Giusto does a masterful job with a very difficult subject — your professional image in the workplace. The author, a Personal Branding Strategist and Image Expert, describes her work as “people packaging” and her book goes deep on all aspects of how one’s appearance speaks volumes about their abilities and potential for leadership.

The Image of Leadership

Di Giusto uses the term, “professional imprint,” which is far superior to “personal brand” in a professional setting. In my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, I wrote a chapter titled, “Your Personal Brand” and I struggled with the vague and varied definition of that term, as well as, the seeming contradiction of the idea of a “personal” brand in a “professional” context. I considered other chapter titles including “Professional Brand” and “Personal-professional Brand,” but neither seemed to work. I like “professional imprint” because it includes it clearly refers to a professional context and emphasizes the enduring aspect of this concept.

Di Giusto summarizes the concept of professional imprint with a great analogy involving product packaging. From the book:

Chips packaging is always fascinating. . . Not one word, even not a lot of talking and describing the chips can do as much on the package as the picture does. It shows what you get. Period. . .

Yes, there are chips inside, but not those we saw on the outside. Inside, they seem more ordinary, and there are usually many that are broken into little fragments. But we still like them. . . What’s the lesson here? With a perfect appearance on the outside, people are willingly buy into you and might still accept you if you’re not as perfect on the inside. The other way around is invariably much harder. #imageofleadership