During our Third Business Buzz Podcast, Jodi and I are going to talk about personal branding and we will debate the question, is there a wrong or right way to do this? The question arose after reading several blog posts and comments about personal branding and in particular, the approach some people are taking by printing out business cards with their names on it and the words “Google Me.” So shall we “Google Me” or Not? Is there a right and wrong way for personal branding? Let us listen to what Jodi and I have the say about it.
Cross Posted at Jodi Kiely Communication
Business Buzz Podcast: Is there a Right or Wrong Way to do Personal Branding?
Jodi: Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of our Business Buzz podcast. My name is Jodi Kiely of the blog Jodi Kiely Communications. I work as an independent PR and communications consultant based out of Orlando, Florida.
Zac: Thanks for joining us again listeners, my name is Zachary Long, small business owner of CameraConcierge.com, photographer, and social media pundit based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jodi: Folks, I know it’s been a long time since our last podcast but regular listeners may have picked up on something in Zac’s introduction and that is, he has now moved to Atlanta! Pretty exciting! So in case you were wondering if episode 3 was ever going to happen, that explains our little hiatus. So Zac, how is Atlanta?
Zac: Atlanta is great, a bigger city than Orlando and a lot more opportunities. We are finally all moved in but I don’t think we will ever finish unpacking!
Jodi: I know how that goes. I hate packing and unpacking.
Anyway, during this episode of Business Buzz, Zac and I are going to talk about personal branding and we will debate the question, is there a wrong or right way to do this?
The question arose after reading several blog posts and comments about personal branding and in particular, the approach some people are taking by printing out business cards with their names on it and the words “Google Me.”
Zac: There has been debate on whether this – and other self-branding methods – is an effective way to market oneself or if it is really just portrays the person doing this as being self-centered and egotistic. While discussing this together, it became clear that Jodi and I have different views about self-branding and what is acceptable or not.
Jodi: First of all, I would like to point out that there is a difference between self branding and corporate branding. I recently posted on Twitter a very good article discussing the difference. In a nutshell, personal branding focuses on you as a person. Are you easy-going? Do you have a sense of humor? What are your interests and if I were to ever work with you, would I feel comfortable around you?
Zac: According to that same article, corporate or executive branding focuses on your actual work record. It touts solid, measurable results, much the same way a resume would.
So back to our original question, Jodi. Is there a right or wrong way to do personal branding?
Jodi: I think there is, not so much in the sense that, “Here is a book or manual telling you step by step how to personally brand yourself,” but more along the lines of, “There are good and poor approaches you should be mindful of.”
For example, the whole idea about putting the words “Google Me” on a business card. I’m trying to think of a situation where that would be appropriate but I really can’t.
Every time I am at a networking function, I realize that such situations are more for the purpose of personal branding. I want people to remember me, to think of me positively as a person so that when the need for my services arises in their lives, they will remember me as being friendly, professional and knowledgeable in which case they may want to learn more about me and in then take the initiative to Google me on their own – or else pick up the phone and call me. But I have heard of others taking the opposite route.
Zac: In my opinion putting “Google Me” on a business card is a way to differentiate yourself from the dozens of other business cards passed around at these events. Once everyone else starts doing it then it loses its charm and uniqueness, but for now it serves two purposes: One, it shows a bit of your personality that you are unique with a bit of creative flair, not one to simply use a standard Kinko’s printed card. If you are a creative type such as a photographer or other artist, then sometimes your name is your brand. Two: This also speaks to your confidence in managing your own personal brand. Growing up I didn’t know any other “Zachary’s” but on the internet I’m not the only “Zachary Long” out there. However, googling my name does bring me up on the first page though not the first result. If I were to give this out to a prospective employer, they would know that anything out there on the internet is fairly mild since I am basically inviting someone to start digging around based on my name.
Jodi: Well, those are worthy arguments people make in favor of using that technique. But there is another thing about the whole “Google Me” approach that makes me a little nervous. I want to come off as being knowledgeable in my industry, but I also want to be seen as being a person who puts customers first. If I tell a potential client to “Google Me,” isn’t that just the same as saying, “I don’t want to take the time to connect with you in person so just go ahead and research me on your own”?
Now granted, if someone did hand me a business card with the words “Google Me” on it, sure, if I ever remembered to, I probably would Google them. And sure, maybe what I would see online would impress me, but at the same time, I can’t help but be turned off by the whole “me first” attitude when it should be a “you first” one.
Zac: Ha! Well at the end of the day at your power networking session, who do you remember more: the guy in the black suit with the standard cardstock business card with name and title, or the confident guy with the unique Google Me card that no one else had that night?
Jodi: Honestly speaking, the person I meet at the end of the night is the one who didn’t try to hard sell me like the others did, and the one who took an active interest in me as a person. I remember the person who tries to build a relationship with me first before trying to get me to buy.
Having said that, I think it is possible to relay the same message as “Google Me” but in a different way. Instead of simply writing “Google Me” on your card, do what folks are already doing and include the address to your website and on that website, link to other online mentions of you and your work. Even a simple message of “Let’s connect” can be powerful.
My email signature does just that. I have the message, “Let’s connect” along with links to my blog, LinkedIn account and Delicious bookmarks where I share a lot of industry-related links.
I’m a big believer in social media. “Google me” doesn’t say “social.” It says, I know I’m great and I want you to know I’m great rather than, “I can help you and I invite you to find out how.” Key words being “invite” and “you.”
Zac: Wait, aren’t you inviting them to Google You? You’re inviting someone to use the number one site on the internet, Google, and to simply type in your name instead of typing in a possibly complicated blog address. Another reason for a simplistic URL to your blog but I think that is a whole other conversation on SEO!
Jodi: True! But to me, “Google Me” is not an invitation. It sounds like a command.
In comparison, “Let’s connect” sounds like an invitation. I hate to be a grammar teacher here but let’s break down each message:
“Google Me.” All I’m hearing is “me.”
“Let’s connect.” Broken down into words, “let’s” is “let us.” Let us connect. I know it sounds weird when you say it like that, but see the difference…it’s not about me. It’s about two people now.
Kind of like when you’re writing a cover letter to a prospective employer. You can only talk about yourself so much before the reader wants to know what you can do for them. How you can help his or her company? I really do think there is a reason why we are taught to use the company’s name and the word “you” more often than the word “I” in a cover letter.
Anyway, we agree to disagree on this one. I think we’ve hammered to death the perceived down and upsides of using the phrase “Google Me” in one’s personal branding campaign. Can you think of other tips our listeners may want to know of?
Zac: I think we can review some general personal branding tips, the first of which is to have a home base. Where do you want people to go when you hand them that business card? The simple answer may be a link to your LinkedIn page showcasing your accomplishments, or your twitter profile where you actively participate and add to the discussion about your industry. All of that aside, I think the most powerful way to drive traffic around your personal brand is to develop a blog with a custom URL to consolidate all of those extraneous sites we mentioned briefly before like Delicious Bookmarks, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Jodi, I know you have recently had some success since you launched your blog, how has this helped your personal brand?
Jodi: The blog has been really helpful in getting me exposure. It has increased the amount of inquiries I have received from people who say they are interested in working with me sometime in the future. I know this because people have actually mentioned my blog when they write to me. I think the biggest strength in that has been the fact that my blog showcases my knowledge in my area of expertise and hopefully paints me as a good person to work with.
Zac: I think that is a perfect example of a social media – and personal branding – success story! You consolidated all of the other links around the internet to one landing page, with your own thoughts within the blog posts as the glue keeping everything together. As another tip to Personal Branding, you used your own name as the site URL – further linking your name with the posts that may eventually show up in Google search results.
Jodi: That’s true and I think it is a start. I do believe in the end, the most effective method is to go out and meet people. Go to the same networking events over and over again where you will see some regulars. Establish a relationship with those regular attendees and then, after you get to know them more, go in for the hard sell. At least, this is what I am learning having attended Asian-American Chamber of Commerce events on a regular basis now. I do think personal branding helps though, and having presence online is very powerful – and mandatory.
Zac: You bring up another good point that bears repeating, and that is that relationships matter both online and offline – and that the one reinforces the other. By meeting and talking to these people over time you have built a relationship based on your personality and professionalism. Now, when they want to take the next step and engage with you, they can pull up your website that was written on your business card, and see examples of your work to reinforce that connection.
For me as a small business owner, I have had a very similar experience with making relationships which affect our brand. As owner of CameraConcierge.com, a camera equipment rental company, I am often at photography events because of my own love for photography. I don’t go to these events aggressively handing out business cards, but if I start talking to someone and we make a connection about what we do for a living I do bring up the business. Now, I don’t know if you call this a “soft sell” or personal branding, but I see my personality – and my wife’s – as a large driver of business for us. Making a personal connection either in person or over the phone has made the sale for us, allowing others to feel comfortable doing business with us and wanting to come back for repeat business as well.
Jodi: I really do think the internet – and perhaps the current economic situation in the world today – has changed how we promote ourselves. I think in a sense, we are all becoming more and more guilty of “me” marketing vs. “you marketing” and that includes myself as well.
Is this good or bad? Or, to rephrase the question, What makes a ‘me marketing approach’ good or bad? As you can see from our debate today, there is no easy answer. I think we can agree that as uncomfortable as we may feel about talking about ourselves so highly, personal branding is necessary and to ignore it means you miss out to the competition who are promoting themselves aggressively.
Zac: Well even if we may feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves, by effectively managing your personal brand you are basically letting your work speak for itself. It’s a passive marketing approach and one that once you set up with a website has little costs, only requiring a time investment for blog posts, tweets, etc. to keep content fresh. That is my final thought and tip, think of your personal branding as a long-term “slow burn” commitment, you may not see immediate results even in the first couple of months but stick with the regular updates – as you should be doing in all of your social media efforts – and eventually you will start seeing results.
Jodi: Great discussion today.
Well, this concludes today’s episode of “Business Buzz” – thanks again for listening. And in the spirit of personal branding, I invite all of you to join me for more discussion about this and other topics on my blog, JodiKiely.com (J-O-D-I K-I-E-L-Y . COM or follow me on twitter at Jodi UNDERSCORE Kiely.)
Zac: Well you really can just Google Me, but I will point people to the same places that you did Jodi – head over to ZacharyLong.com for my photoblog which has links to my various other activities around the web or connect with me on twitter at ZacharyLong.
Jodi: And one note to our listeners before we conclude: Business Buzz will be taking a rather long break as I am getting ready to take off for a very long but busy trip to Denmark with the Central Florida Rotary International program starting in September. I will be back in October though, and we will pick up from there, so don’t forget us!
I’m relying on Zac to keep us alive in your thoughts during our podcast break.
Zac: Anyway, thanks again for listening! And until next time, we look forward to more discussions on our Business Buzz podcast!