Almost every Sunday morning at 7:00 I join a group of fellow cyclists in Kyoto, Japan for a ride. As we gathered outside the bike shop this past week, I admired the wide range of bikes from “classic” steel models to current day carbon racers. I realized how technology has played such a huge role in the development of bicycles over the years. While the bicycle at it’s most basic level was invented to meet a functional need for transportation, technology has enabled it to evolve into wider reaching applications for a wider audience.
The Evolution of Personal Branding
You might be asking, “What’s the connection to personal branding?” Personal branding was first introduced in Tom Peter’s “classic” 1997 Fast Company article, The Brand Called You. He introduced personal branding as a functional business need:
“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.”
At the time of this article, personal branding’s reach was minimal. The idea of branding yourself was clearly ahead of it’s time in 1997. Perhaps only a small handful of people in limited geographies jumped on board. Fast forward to current day. Social media, blogging, personal websites, Google, SEO marketing, YouTube, online groups, discussion forums and the like have caused an evolution in personal branding – maybe even a revolution! People all over the world are now branding themselves. Technology has dramatically expanded the reach and application of personal branding and has made it part of everyday life.
The fact is that we are all being Googled. A few clicks on the keyboard and anyone can see how visible, or invisible, we are on the web. Add to this that companies are now aggressively investing more in social media over traditional recruiting methods. A recent survey by Jobvite found that 89% of US companies use social networks for recruiting, with 64% using two or more social networks to find new talent. It is no longer “who you know” that matters, but rather “who knows you.”
Personal Branding is about the Person
While technology has definitely been a catalyst for the evolution of personal branding, we cannot forget the person. In cycling, it’s ultimately not whether a bicycle is more aerodynamic or is made of carbon instead of steel. It is how the rider engages and uses the bicycle that truly matters. Without the person, a bicycle, regardless of it’s technological advances, is nothing more than just something to look it.
The same must be said for personal branding. We cannot get caught up in whether Google+ is better than Facebook, or if Mail Chimp is more effective than Constant Contact. What matters is how we engage and use technology to communicate and manage our personal brands, and how we walk away from technology when needed to ensure the human side is always first and foremost. Your awesome LinkedIn profile just might get your foot in the door at a company, but it is your physical presence and how you engage and use your personal brand ‘in person’ that will ultimately seal the deal!
Peter Sterlacci, Founder of BeYB – Believe. Become. Be Your Brand, combines personal branding strategy with cycling imagery to empower on-the-move careerists in global companies in Japan to shift gears, get out of the saddle, and sprint to career success.