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What Jay-Z Can Teach Us about Personal Branding

By Sima Dahl
President of Parlay Communications

Business-to-business marketers know the importance of having a strong, well-known brand. From generating leads to closing deals, a powerful brand makes everything easier. And so it is for your personal brand, too.

Brands need to be nurtured and loved. They need attention, and yours is no different. As we discussed in my first column, your personal brand is not your job title but rather a snippet of your character, your competence, and your charisma. It's what people think they know about you, and it's not something to be left to chance.

Take a moment and consider the last occasion when you did something to emphasize or improve your personal brand. For example, when's the last time you:

  • Finessed your profile on LinkedIn?
  • Softly tooted your own horn at work?
  • Accepted a high-profile volunteer assignment?
  • Furthered your knowledge or shared it with someone freely?

If you have to think about it, then it's been too long.

In this age of referral, a strong personal brand is paramount to your success. Consider rapper Jay-Z's lyrics in Diamonds in Sierra Leone: "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man." That’s right, YOU are a business, and the sooner you take it seriously, the better.

You don't need to be a media mogul or married to Beyoncé to care about the brand that is you. Strategist and author Tom Peters wrote that, "Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you."

Whether you're looking for a new job, climbing the proverbial agency ladder, or running your own business, it's easier to succeed if you have a vast network cheering you on and helping you out. Seth Godin calls this your "tribe." I refer to tribe members as brand champions, and social networks are one of the smartest, most scalable ways to ensure your champions know why you're special and what you need.

We marketers can sell ice to Eskimos, but we struggle to sell ourselves. I know it's not easy for everyone to step into the spotlight, but you owe it to yourself to be known for the all the great work you do. Start slowly, but start today. Update your LinkedIn profile. Reconsider your Twitter bio. Use your Facebook status to gently remind your network of why you're worthy of their admiration and referrals. Don't let another day go by without giving a little TLC to the most important brand on earth: you!

Sima Dahl

Sima Dahl is a social media strategist and personal branding expert with 20 years experience working for both mature enterprises and early-stage startups. She is well known for her "Sway Factor" approach to social networking and has coached rainmakers, ladder climbers, and job seekers on the art of networking in the digital age. Sima is the President of Parlay Communications, founder and Chief Connector of Marketing Job Wire, serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago AMA, and blogs about various social media and marketing topics at ExpertBusinessSource.com.