As their has been a lot of discussion lately about personal branding, i wanted to ask everyone here on recruitingblogs how they feel about it and what your thoughts are. Also, whether or not you support, what do you feel would be the best way to build up ones personal branding, on or offline.
Trace, you bring up an interesting question. If we happen to participate in discussions on the web, and/or blog, it is inevitable that you will develop some level of a personal brand. Personally, I have an affinity for those that have a presence aimed at giving back as opposed to winning a popularity contest. A good example is Jim Stroud - he consistently creates value and helps me do my job better, and from what I know of him, it's more about helping us than winning any awards. Personally, the individuals I often 'notice' (and subsequently keep my interest beyond 1 post) are those that meet the following criteria:
a. They are honest. If someone agrees with everything they read or hear, they can become more a placater than an innovator or thinker. ("Traditionalists often study what is taught, not what there is to create." - Ed Parker, Kenpo Grandmaster)
b. They assume a position. Again, agreeing with everything means "standing on the fence" as opposed to having independent thought and reasoning ability. As Seth Godin says, "Don't be afraid to polarize people." The reason for this is because so many people fall into the middle ground as opposed to standing for something. As an example, consider the Honda Pilot or Infiniti FX - sure, many people dislike them because of the body style, but to again quote Seth Godin, "For every person that hates you, there is someone that loves you." If you can identify and grow among the group that loves you, then you have a niche.
c. They write in an engaging way. When I say "engaging", I am suggesting that even the most advanced topics can be presented in such a way that we can understand. The ability to communicate complex issues is as much an art as a skill. Although amusing, Alan Greenspan put me off when he said, ""If you think you understand what I said, I probably misspoke..." (paraphrased).
The dilemma I see Trace, is that by being honest and assuming a position, there are risks. Yes, you will polarize some . . . particularly if your honesty can impact the money stream or "flow of commerce" in a market (at the end of the day, this is human nature.) Natural segregation, and to a degree, forced or 'highly recommended' segregation, may occur . . . and as a result, building a resonating personal brand requires a dose of thick skin. However, I personally believe that over a period of time, there is more to be gained through honesty and candor than playing it safe at each corner.
Just my $0.02 of a declining USD.
Someone with Little to No Personal Brand :)