My friend Mark Schaefer’s new book on personal branding, Known, tells you how to market yourself in today’s digital world. It’s good advice from someone who knows. Mark has become one of the leading voices in the marketing space after spending a career doing the work on the inside at some impressive companies. He now speaks, writes and consults with some of the biggest brands in the world.
But there’s an interesting irony in Mark’s journey, and the journey of many of us who have built personal brands over the years. It’s extremely difficult to go back to doing anything but being you once your personal branding takes hold.
I share this because I’ve now worked for three companies since my own personal brand became somewhat known. In two of the three instances, I was hired partially because of my personal branding. The company in question wanted to capitalize on the fact I had a following and could help them with exposure, credibility, etc.
Sadly, in two of the three instances, my personal brand partially led to those relationships ending. I was told in one instance that I was focused too much on my personal brand and not enough on the company. In my estimation, everything I did publicly was representing the company and the expertise we had to offer (which included mine), but when the boss doesn’t see it that way, guess who loses? The personal brand.
The great benefits of personal branding is you can be your own boss. Done well, a person with a brand can speak, write and consult and choose their clientele. But the truth is this is sometimes a hard way to live. The life of a consultant means occasionally not having revenue on the books next month and not knowing where your next mortgage payment is coming from. Strong planning and organization can overcome this, but when a client stops a project for reasons beyond your control, they don’t keep paying you.
The challenges of taking your personal brand back to work for someone else full-time are that you have to turn the personal brand way down. If not, you need an employment arrangement that leverages your brand AND a boss that always understands the benefits it brings. I also don’t recommend working for a boss with a big ego. Whether you drive revenue or not, they don’t like playing second fiddle.
Mark’s book is a good one. He’s a smart guy with great advice. But books aren’t written to give you the cautionary tale. Personal branding can come back to bite you in the ass. So be careful who you work for and with and how you leverage yours for them and for you.