Why You Can Forget About Personal Branding

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This is the age of the story. From storyboarding to “customer journeys”, from elevator pitches to personal brands to About pages, the web — and its creation — is rife with stories.

And now, says the99percent, those who work on the web need one, too. Forget that old resume: you, my friend, need a story.

That article provides tips for writing a bio — the first place, says author Michael Margolis, people look to find out about you in the “relationship economy.” Share a point of view, he says. Create backstory, incorporate external validators, and invite people into the relationship: “vulnerability is the new black.”

I don’t know about you, but this kind of personally prescriptive advice about getting ahead in the digital age is doing my head in. (And since telling stories is my job, that’s saying something.)

Isn’t “personal branding” about you? Isn’t it about being yourself? And shouldn’t being yourself be, well, easy?

If you felt a twinge of nerves on reading that question — if you secretly thought “But my clients don’t want me! They want Super-coder/The Incredible Designer/MakeMegaMoneyMan” — then maybe your bio, or folio, or latest Twitter update isn’t the issue here.

Maybe it’s time to look more closely at what’s at the heart of what you’re doing — your motivations for freelancing, for working with particular clients, for delivering great results, for setting the goals you’ve set.

Get to grips with the reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’ll have a solid understanding of your purpose. Then, whether you’re a cave-dwelling hermit or an out-and-out show pony, that “story” will automatically and necessarily come across in whatever you do.

The way you explain things, the “stories” you choose to relate, and the ways and times you choose to communicate will all inherently, naturally, and unerringly portray your “personal brand”. Your individual style and approach will cause you to seize certain ideas and discount others, and the resulting shape of your activities — which comprise your “story” — will be unique, deep, and (that word we’ve all been waiting for) “authentic”.

Forget about trying to consciously improve your “personal brand”. You don’t have to change a thing, or be anything you’re not right now. Your current clients, colleagues, and contacts already love you and your work. They’re sold! Developing those relationships, and expanding on your current successes, is the best approach to building a business — and your “story”. Don’t you think?

Image by stock.xchng user spekulator.

Georgina LaidlawGeorgina Laidlaw
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Georgina has more than fifteen years' experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. With a background in marketing and a passion for words, the time Georgina spent with companies like Sausage Software and sitepoint.com cemented her lasting interest in the media, persuasion, and communications culture.

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