I have fallen in the trap of thinking I need to spend time on personal branding too. In fact, I have written a blog post listing tips and a blog post about the reasons why. Most of the blog posts you see written about personal branding focus on social media. I think by now, more and more people realize that social media can come in handy but that they are not real life. The negative consequences that social media and its vanity metrics can have on one’s mental health are highlighted increasingly more. Yes, you can look good on social media, but people do not necessarily buy that self-created image anymore. What can you do as an entrepreneur to keep winning? Two authors have recently argued that no personal branding is required. What a relief. Let’s dive into what they have to say.
No personal branding: it is a meaningless race
Tim Denning starts his article by asking some meaningful questions: “Are you successful, really, because of your brand? Or are you running a race that does not matter and will hold no joy when you are lying on your deathbed, reflecting on your life?” He recommends letting your work stand out for itself and urges you to be useful.
He claims that “personal branding forcefully pushes the focus towards the importance of one’s self rather than placing the attention on the significance of being useful.” Simply being useful is what helps you build an online audience, precisely the goal of personal branding. So, you do not have to act as if you are “the most important thing in the world right now.”
Denning thinks you can be useful by speaking your truth, sharing helpful advice, and bringing the world the entertainment or knowledge that you have. It is okay to be on social media and share things online. Denning simply asks to think about your intent. Try to show up as yourself, find a way to help people, make the objective selfless, and be kind.
He gives the example of people whom most of us admire. “I never heard Oprah or Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk talk about personal brands. All those influential people do is show up every day and try and be useful and help incredible amounts of people in the process.”
Think about your mental health
Denning also worries about your mental health if you are trying to build your personal brand. According to him, personal branding creates a fear of missing out. “You end up comparing your brand to the next person’s and spending stupid amounts of time on the various social media platforms engaging, posting content, and still feeling you are not posting enough or that you are not enough.”
I have to agree with him that “there is more to life than social media, likes, brands, followers” and that they have “nothing to do with your joy or fulfillment.”
No personal branding: be useful and give
William Arruda agrees with Denning that you have to be useful. He just calls it giving. “Personal branding is about how you deliver value to others. […] There is one technique that will help you build a strong and compelling personal brand: GIVE.”
There are two reasons you should be giving, Arruda believes. The first reason is that giving might be “the most powerful way to become known for all the right reasons.” The second reason is that “when you are giving to others, you build your confidence and feel great about yourself.” That sounds better than the FOMO social media can give you, right?
How to give as an entrepreneur
Arruda lists ways to use giving to build your brand. That still sounds like self-interest is the first intent, but let’s see how you can give as an entrepreneur.
- Share knowledge
Sharing your expertise with others helps them become successful, and at the same time, you can demonstrate how smart you are.
- Give advice
Provide guidance that will help people around you get unstuck or increase their efficiency.
- Provide real-time support
When you show people that you have their back and are willing to pitch in, you build lasting trust and loyalty.
- Acknowledge others
When you acknowledge people in front of others, they get an extra boost by being recognized in front of their peers, and you demonstrate that you are an appreciative team player.
- Include others
Find ways to include others in some of your projects, such as conferences or whitepapers, so you can help them build their brand.
- Provide feedback
Feedback helps us refine what we do and become more accomplished. Feedback also helps us identify what we are good at, so we can do more of it.
- Be a mentor
Being a mentor means you are committing to the success of someone else. You are sharing the experience you gained to help others excel more rapidly.