Is Personal Branding Overhyped?

by Joe Lavelle on December 18, 2009

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As I was reading this great summary post on Personal Branding from @UndercoverRec, it struck me that I really don’t understand all the energy being generated in social media on the topic.  It’s not that I do not think branding is important and that I don’t think that I could use lots of help on my own brand.  I just wonder, is Personal Branding being over-hyped?

Personal Branding pioneer @DanSchawbel was one of the first people that I found and followed on Twitter and I still enjoy following his blog and other enterprises.  I just feel like every 3rd post I see is on personal branding and I just don’t get why other topics like Career AccelerationMastering Performance ReviewsGetting Bigger Raises or How to Get a Job (all self-serving, I know) aren’t getting more attention.

Maybe Dan has been so successful promoting the topic that others are trying to hitch on to his success.  Maybe with record unemployment people are seeking any advantage they can get and are making great customers for the Personal Branding message.  Perhaps my gray hair is getting in the way. I need your help.  Here are some of my questions:

1) Most of the Personal Branding content seems to be aimed at those at the entry-level in their career.  Doesn’t it make more sense for young people to be totally focused on knowledge and skill development that will be important for their career growth?  Is it really possible for a programmer or accountant with 6 months of experience to have a brand?  (As a hiring manager, what I am seeking at that level is a hard worker with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge)

2) Isn’t the Personal Branding message better targeted to entrepreneurs than employees?  If I were a large employer, do I really want my Director of Customer service branding herself “The Call Center Queen”, especially if she is doing so on company time?

3)   As I think back over my career, my value/brand has evolved.  I have gone from “tech weenie”, to “coach”, to “trusted advisor”, to “entrepreneur” back to “trusted advisor”.  Most of the people that I know evolve in similar ways.  As I think how much it costs a company to re-brand, imagine how much it would cost for individuals to build new websites, blogs, and Twitter persona’s as they evolve.  Can most employees really afford the time and money it takes to effectively build and maintain a personal brand?

I really would appreciate your thoughts on these questions!  Thank you!

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