We’ve written here before on the blog how important it is to have a strong personal brand.
We’re so committed to it that a core part of the program education experience centers around helping participants develop their own and use it to effectively market and sell themselves in the real world.
Participants start podcasts, write books, build blogs, and learn to use tools like social media to get opportunities that might otherwise be closed to them. It’s a regular occurrence for them to land new job offers, clients, speaking opportunities, and to build friendships because of it.
What often gets missed in the popular discussions around personal brands though is this:
You can’t brand yourself all the way to success
For all that a personal brand is worth, it’s only worth as much as you back it up with real work. While you might be able to score some quick wins using cheap personal branding techniques, those will only get you so far and last so long.
Planes don’t fly by personal brands.
Apps aren’t coded through personal brands.
Businesses aren’t built through personal brands alone.
You need skill, competence, and most importantly, the ability to get things done. All too often though today I see young people who like to talk big game, give out motivational advice, act like they have everything together, but who can’t be relied upon to actually create things that are valued by others. They do everything except what’s most important.
I get it.
It’s easy to be distracted by the glamour and the glitter of people with exciting personal brands. You see them online doing things you wish you were doing and it seems almost easy. You adopt their voice, their aesthetic, and their image and you get a quick sense of success and satisfaction.
What you don’t see is all the things they don’t put out in public.
You don’t see how much they study to make sure they’re on top of things. Nor do you see how hard they work or for how long. You might see the practical results of the money they have earned but not the value they had to create for others first before they could earn that money.
You also don’t see that while their personal brand has helped them grow into new opportunities, it was the opportunities they created when they didn’t have a brand, when they were just getting started, that developed their brand in the first place.
If you’re a young person who is about to start your career, don’t let yourself get distracted by trying to build a personal brand for yourself. Focus on building things. Focus on doing the best job you can do at your work and taking on interesting and exciting projects outside of your work.
Your brand should be a reflection of the quality of the work you do, not a substitute for it. That’s how true success is built.