Manage Your Career Path With These Personal Branding Tips

Personal branding is for anyone who wants to achieve certain goals in life and in career.

Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Advance your career and in your industry? Harness your inner passion and core values to get ahead and stand for something? Gain the respect of those around you?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any one of those questions, then the personal branding process is for you.

While there are varying descriptions and definitions for what personal branding is, I personally gravitate to Manpower Professional‘s interpretation, which says:

Personal branding involves packaging up all your unique qualities and marketing them to the world. Your brand is the manifestation of your strengths, interests, unique capabilities, skills, experience, knowledge and goals. You’re developing an image that you can project to friends, colleagues, managers and employers to showcase your talents and guide your career decisions.

I recently had the chance to host an online strategy session on the topic of personal branding. (You can watch the webinar for free.)

Confused about Personal Branding?

Believe it or not, a majority of people are confused about personal branding and how it can help them achieve new heights in their career. Quite honestly, I’m still learning new things about how I can benefit. And so in developing my presentation, I turned to some of the experts in the field of branding, career development and personal marketing for tips.

Peter Arnell, the author of SHIFT: How to Reinvent Your Business, Your Career, and Your Personal Brand, is considered one of the foremost thought leaders in corporate branding. In fact, as his book states, he is “the man behind many of the world’s most recognizable brands.”

He underwent his own personal brand transformation as he shed 250 pounds of weight. He went from weighing more than 400 pounds to 150 pounds, and kept it off. What a transformation, indeed.

Arnell talks about the rebranding process in his book. And he says something that I think applies to anyone whether you are just beginning your personal brand journey or seeking to overhaul your current brand image and brand identity.

He writes:

“To rebrand yourself, to make a major change in your career or your life, start by distilling who you are down to its essence. What do you want to communicate to others? What do you drive? Who do you hang out with? Where do you live? What do you read? How do you dress and behave? The answers to all of these reflect choices that help to form the brand that is you.”

This is certainly a great starting point. To me, he says: Keep it simple, silly.

Assess Your Current Brand

Essentially, you should begin with assessing your current brand. It doesn’t matter whether you’re still a college student, a young professional, a stay-at-home parent, or an industry know-it-all.

Everyone ought to take an objective, extensive view of your current brand and then determine how you will harness this information in determining where you want to take your career. Personal branding is a fluid process, and can change as you tack on new experiences to your resume, earn training credits or college degrees, and as your values and life circumstances evolve.

Think about your major accomplishments, set-backs, any deficiencies or blind spots in your career. A well-positioned brand has focus, but that starts with knowing who you are at this moment and working your way from there.

Outside Feedback

Next, it’s important to obtain outside feedback on your current brand.

Consider comments or feedback you’ve received from other people — whether through passing comments or responses to statements you make.

You should even consider asking those closest to you and perhaps a handful of colleagues, how they currently perceive you. The authors of the book, Managing Brand You: Seven Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self, recommends asking direct, probing questions to yourself and others, such as:

  • What kind of image do others have of me?
  • What kind of image do I project?
  • What do you believe are my top three personal/professional strengths?
  • Where can I improve?
  • Am I a team player?
  • Am I optimistic?
  • Am I self-centered?

John Beeson, a succession planning and organizational development expert and founder of Beeson Consulting Inc, says how you are perceived has a “huge impact on whether or not you’ll be promoted to the C-suite.”

Whether intentional or not, he says in a statement, your actions over time and in the context of your organization’s culture combine to create a widespread impression of your leadership skills and capabilities.

Perception is Reality

Therefore, it’s important to stay aware of that, and make efforts to change the perceptions of others. You may not care what others think of you, but when it comes to personal branding it does matter. And we’ve all heard how perception is often reality.

Of course, that’s where I believe personal branding can be quite healthy for one’s career and even personal goals. If you want to be known as someone who is reliable, then why are you always late? If you want to be known for being a polished professional and have your work reflect that, then why are your written materials full of typos and grammatical errors (like the one I just corrected)?

These are tough questions, but require addressing if you truly desire to take your career and your personal brand to the next level.

Taking stock of who you are and where you are in your career, can help identify those blind spots in which you need to improve.

Tips to Promote Your Brand

Furthermore, Manpower Professional also offers these tips on actually promoting your brand:

  • Network with the right people to get the word out.
  • Build a strong resume and online portfolio.
  • Always carry business cards and exchange with other professionals.
  • Create a better Google presence. You can boost your Google presence if you start a blog, comment in other blogs and submit articles to online repositories such as
  • Bolster your Linked In profile with references, samples of your work.
  • Keep your Facebook profile professional by posting updates related to your industry, work accomplishments, blog posts and article links, etc.

Manpower Professional also adds that you should take on new projects, teach a class, and give a speech. These are examples of ways in which you can further develop and build on your personal brand, they say.

What are you waiting for?! Go brand yourself, silly!



  • Shandra

    Emily – thank you for this post – it is a really great summary of Personal Branding and how it can assist to leverage unique strengths and attributes to achieve your personal and professional goals.
    As Dan mentioned – whilst everything around us can change and be out of our control, your Personal Brand is one thing that is totally your responsibility to manage, maintain and maximise!

    • Emily Brown

      Amen to that, Shandra! It certainly is our responsibility, and one of the things that we do have control over. I’m glad to see more professionals are taking advantage of the personal branding process.

  • Dan Schawbel

    Emily, great post about personal branding. It’s a process that every individual should go through in order to unearth their true talents, and gain the confidence and career direction they need to succeed. The economy is ever changing, but the one thing that stays consistent is that having a strong personal brand will help you stand out and attract new opportunities.

    • Emily Brown

      Dan — First off, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to offer your feedback. As someone who’s been dubbed “your personal branding guru” by The New York Times , it is apparent you have a pulse on what works in an increasingly competitive job market. Keep up the great work in keeping us all on our toes!

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