I'm a brand. You're a brand. Tom, Dick and Harry? Brand, brand, and brand.
But Tom started it. Yes, I'm talking about Tom Who-Wrote-a-Ridiculous-Number-of Non-Fiction-Best-Sellers Peters.
It was 1997. The web was just a baby. Maybe you were too. I was no baby, but I was practicing personal branding. I just didn't know it. I had started my business just two years prior, so I was brand-building semi-obliviously.
In an edition of Fast Company magazine, in an article titled, "The Brand Called You," Tom Peters declared it a brand new world. He wrote, "To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
Seven paragraphs later, he said, "The web makes a case for branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could."
Then he made a bit of a crystal ball statement. "When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose message you're going to read and respond to first and whose you're going to send to the trash unread? The answer is personal branding."
Then he hung up his dial-up modem and kept writing.
Person branding guru Dan Schawbel was just 14 at the time.
It would be 10 years later when Dan took the baton and ran with it in his book, "Me 2.0." The New York Times dubbed Dan a "personal branding guru."
In the first chapter, Dan pointed out 10 years prior entrepreneurs primarily connected offline through networking events. People spent decades working for companies, often hanging around until retirement. They had few networking tools.
New century, new rules.
Job security doesn't exist. When you're looking for a job, your GPA will likely take a backseat to your communications skills-writing, social media, presenting.
Obviously, with the second wave of the web-Web 2.0-comes a massive shift in how things work. Unless you want to give in to becoming increasingly irrelevant, you have to recognize communications go both ways, community is all-important and the mark you make online is the heartbeat of your brand.
To the individual, personal branding is almost a survival tactic. I think it's a fun fight, but let's be real. You need new strategies and a wider roster of skills.
I've been working at them, and lately, working hard to share what I've learned. I offered importantpersonal branding tips from Michael Hyatt and me on my blog, The Point. In another post, you can also read about a way to gauge your progress by doing a search for yourself.
I also created an infographic, where I consolidate and alphabetize 26 of the best tips I've gathered. I hope you get something out of it.