Sunday, August 8, 2010


An acquaintance of mine has his own executive placement business. He tells me things are slow. I ask him how people who need his services find him.

"Word of mouth."

Does that work? Sometimes, he says, but its tough. He hands me his business card, which looks impressive, even sleek. I ask him about his website. He responds he doesn't have one. A blog? Uh, nope, he says. Twitter? No way, he snickers.

Except for a business card, he seems to be missing some pieces in his puzzle.

I ask him about his brand. And that question boggles his mind. "My brand?" he asks.

I ask him if he considers himself an expert in his field, if he's gone out there and branded himself as such? Has he done his homework to gain experience and knowledge about the executive search field? Does he understand employment trends and which jobs are the most viable? Does he understand levels of compensation in conjunction with experience? Has he let people know that he's the best choice when it comes to helping them find executive-level positions? Has he used this knowledge to build his expertise and to exploit his own brand? His response (and we've had this conversation quite a few times) to all of these questions is always, simply, "I don't know."

His attitude is fraught with defeat. In fact, he's defeated before he puts himself out there. Before striking out on his own, he was a marketing professional for a high-level agency in Chicago. He got tired of the grind and decided to, in his words, "hang out his shingle."

But he really hasn't done that because without using any e-media - not even a website - he doesn't have a shingle at all.

What he's missing is the concept of personal branding. I find out that, to him, personal branding is "arrogant."

That he used to be a marketing professional and doesn't get the concept of personal branding is beyond shocking. 

According to Tom Peters, author, In Search of Excellence, everything you do, say, write, and even wear, brands YOU.

You want to be an expert in a certain field? You need to brand yourself as that expert. You need to live and breath that expertise and extend your brand to the world.

This is not about arrogance. Its about making you the brand of YOU.

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