WoD – on Personal Branding

(I wrote this to a few friends, about 15 months ago in fact.  I happened across it, and I realized it is even more relevant today than it was back then.  Also, worth noting is that these questions are answered quite differently by different ages and demographics…)  

Full disclosure — had a big cup of coffee just now. 

Ok, with that out of the way, I was reading an article on online presences/branding and it had a link to this little video.  http://www.personalbranding.tv/personal-branding-make-the-real-virtual/

The vid itself is just ok (actually kind of annoying, but whatever) and likely not too germane for all of us.  But it got me thinking about all these ideas.  Just thinking about all of the *virtual* activity swirling around one offline activity (like a small speaking engagement, as he describes) gives me a massive freaking headache.  And I am sure it does for just about all of you, too.  

Is this really how we are all supposed to do things now in an online, web 2.0 social media world?  Do we really have to manage our “Personal Brand”?  I mean, I don’t want to do ANY of the stuff he talks about.  I don’t want to update Facebook if I do something, or tweet about a good article I read just so I can get others to re-tweet it and boost my online presence, or post comments all over other people’s blogs (and this is the easy stuff), or even try to figure out what Pinterest is all about.  In fact, all this activity seems like a massive waste of time, right?  But, as Tom Cruise says so wonderfully in The Color of Money, “the thing is, if everybody’s doing it… then everybody’s doing it.”

Why does this all matter?  Well, one way is that many of us are or will be in a career transition of sorts at some point in the near future.  Which means that recruiters or HR people or whomever you meet with are likely Googling and Facebooking us.  And everyone is certainly LinkedIn-ing all of us all the time.  On me personally, what they will discover is not a lot.  I am buried on some ancillary pages on Google because many people have my name, my Facebook site is family-oriented and very bare bones, and I don’t tweet.  (I smoked but never inhaled.)  This is all by design.  Even my most outward-facing idea thing — the WoD — I keep private and basically anonymous on the web.  

If we think back, just two or three short years ago there wasn’t even the concept of an online personal brand!  But now, maybe this lack of presence actually hurts?  I think we all now are probably feeling/sensing that on some level we are hurting ourselves by not taking control of and building our own our online personal brand.  So one question in all this is, what is the cost to us individually in NOT doing all this stuff?  

Unfortunately, there is no value placed on being private anymore.  What I mean is, if we decide to be ‘private’ and not post all this stuff, we quickly fade away into the dark, back pages of a Google search.  So a deeper question is, do we have to do all this stuff in order to be at all relevant in this day and age?  Do we have to worry about, establish, and maintain online personal brands (blog creative ideas, tweet about our area of expertise, post our travel online via TripIt, send photos to Instagram, and now Pinterest stuff), if only just to keep pace with the rest of the world?  And if we don’t, are we, or are we perceived to be, old fuddy duddy’s (in other words, irrelevant)…?  

While I understand the value of Facebook, and kinda like the ideas of other social media and inter-connected apps and services, I don’t want to be punished for choosing to be more private and opt out of them.  However, this seems to be the way the world is going.  And I, for one, think it kinda stinks.

So if anyone has good answers to these deep and unsettling questions, let me know.  But please, don’t tweet it.  Email me…



Madness, insanity, craziness

As my bubbe would have said, “You young people, always posting online or checking your phones for tweets, texts, Facebook updates and Pinterests… it’s all a bunch of mishigos!”


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