Give Branding a Break

My Twitter feed is filled with career advisors and bloggers. While I follow these people to find great career and branding information, it was nice, on the Christmas holiday, to read about gift-giving, cookie-eating, spending time with family or how those who don’t celebrate Christmas were spending their day off.

I liked it because it was a break from our typical work-related information sharing. While I love what I do and enjoy talking to others about career development, I was able to peek into others’ personal lives on Christmas Day. It made people seem more human.

Often times, career advisors assume the worst about our students’ tweeting, Facebook-ing and online habits. Many of us fear all students are oversharing- or are at the risk of oversharing- too much personal information online. Sometimes, these fears are confirmed, making continued discussions with students about how to be professional online relevant and important.

However, I think we need to be careful not to paralyze ourselves with fear that we cannot share anything related to our personal lives.

Can you imagine if we never veered from business/work/professional topics in-person? It would be the end of small talk, and that would not be good. Small talk is how we connect with others, get to know one another, and discover mutual interests that go beyond our professional lives.

A friend of mine who works in PR tweets about all sorts of seemingly random topics that span her professional and personal interests. She does so in order to “meet” and initiate conversations with other users who have a diverse range of backgrounds and passions. While she begins to build a relationship around a topic un-related to her job, the relationships she builds this way can still benefit her in her work.

We’re not all PR people and most of us should stick to our niche when tweeting, blogging, networking, etc. But straying from our usual topics and getting personal at times isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Hearing about why someone is especially excited about his or her New Year’s Eve plans, how an acquaintance plans to  celebrate his or her birthday or a DIY project someone is going to tackle on a Saturday afternoon may lead to a stronger connection built on our shared interest in a hobby or cause.  Or, I can learn something new- something different- than the type of information I normally gravitate toward – making me appreciate that person even more.

Perhaps it’s not so much breaking from our personal branding efforts, as the title above implies, but weaving into our personal brand our personality and the things that  matter to us outside of our work to avoid becoming a branding robot and instead be a human being.


Kelly is a career advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she assists undergraduate business students with all aspects of their career development. Kelly received her masters degree in Higher Education/Student Personnel Administration from New York University, and her bachelors degree from UW-Madison, where she majored in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Connect with Kelly on Twitter, LinkedIn orBrazenCareerist.

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  3. Are You Branding? Or Broadcasting?

4 Responses to “Give Branding a Break”

  1. Kelly, good article. I agree that not everything has to be “on message,” since part of the “product” (yuck, I hate commodifiying people) is personality and self. I’m never concerned about students who weave personal and professional into their online activities. It’s only when those from the personal side start to get sketchy that I have concern (ex. a student cursing a professor in his twitter feed recently…).

  2. avatar Bags says:

    Social media is all about creating relationships. I think sometimes we forget that. And relationships can’t be built without conversation. The most cherished relationships (at least in my life) are the ones that cross over into different parts of life (school, work, friends, family etc).

  3. avatar Monika says:

    Great post Kelly! (I wrote about something similar in mine!)

    Happy New Year–and enjoy the rest of the Holidays!: :)

  4. avatar Kelly Cuene says:

    Gary – Great point about straying from “the message” and not commodifying people. Sounds like the student who had the Twitter issue hopefully had a good learning moment.

    Bags – I totally agree!

    Monika – I enjoyed your post and I hope you enjoyed the holidays and your break!

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