Personal Branding: It’s Not All About You

The subject of Personal Branding draws its share of critics.

I have heard claims that personal branding is all self-promotion and arrogance and that it holds little substance.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I do think these positions are missing the mark on what it means to develop and market your personal brand. Developing your personal brand includes: determining your strengths and weaknesses, and using these tools to best move our lives, our careers or those around us forward. While it does involve marketing your strengths, skills and accomplishments, it should never be unabashed self-promotion.

My own personal branding reminder

Last week, I shared that I was hired on as a full-time addition to the PR staff at an agency in Wisconsin. I’m extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity.

To honor the new gig, my family celebrated with a nice dinner, and then my sister took me out on the town. I was relieved to have made a decision and to mark this step forward in my career.

But with all this, I am reminded of an important piece of personal branding advice:
Yes, people want to hear about the great things in your life, but only to a point.

Sure, they will tell you congratulations- and maybe even buy you a drink. They may ask about what exactly you do or how you like it, but chances are they would prefer an abbreviated version of the answer.

When good things happen to you, do share them with the people around you? I did.

Unless you want to be branded as arrogant or annoying, keep the celebrating and self-promotion to a quiet roar. No need to shout it from the rooftops. If you do good work, others will recognize your accomplishments.

Remember: The impression you give to others IS your personal brand.
Be proud of your accomplishments and keep nurturing your strengths that make your personal brand special. Be grateful for your opportunities. Share your successes with others and let them congratulate you. But it should never be all about you.

Be curious about others’ lives. Ask them engaging questions. Be compassionate and caring. And, always keep in mind how your personal strengths can positively impact the others.


Cassie is a May 2009 University of Wisconsin-Madison Ag Journalism graduate. She recently unfolded her passion for public relations during her short stint as a PR consultant for a Madison, Wis. area non-profit and is looking to dive into the field professionally. Find Cassie on TwitterBrazenCareerist, and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Personal Branding Basics: It’s All About Communication
  2. 10 Personal Branding Books
  3. The Mental Game Behind Personal Branding

8 Responses to “Personal Branding: It’s Not All About You”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bryan Cromlish, Jason Berek-Lewis. Jason Berek-Lewis said: RT @DanSchawbel StudentBrandingBlog/ Personal Branding: It’s Not All About You My blog on this: [...]

  2. avatar Lynn Hector says:

    I think Cassie has a great point. As a public relations senior at the University of Oregon, I am constantly immersed in the topic of personal branding as a way to begin defining myself as an asset to the public relations industry. So often we frame our personal branding as what we have accomplished, not what we can offer. Humility will indeed be noticed and this is a great reminder of that.

  3. avatar Annelie Näs says:

    Great point. I just want to share some thoughts on when this get’s a bit extreme. You see, I’m Swedish, and in Sweden people tend to believe in “Jantelagen” here is an explanation: Basically, we are not allowed to be openly proud of what we do. However, it is ok if I “brag” about someone else. But coming from this, and later living in America. I have been working really hard to find a balance, between being proud but never saying to much. It a fine line, and sometimes I feel to Swedish in America and to American in Sweden. But I’m working on it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this, and congratulations on you new job!

  4. This is really good advice Cassie. I tend to be a very passionate person. When I’m really excited about something, you’ll know about it! This is a good reminder that when we do well or have successes, humility is key. I’m a graduating senior at the UO and this is a really good reminder. Congrats on your new job! Best of luck to you.

  5. Cassie, great advice. No matter how much we accomplish it is very important to go out of our way to congratulate and praise those who are special to us in our professional and personal lives.

    That behavior is ultimately a distinguishing factor of OUR personal brand. From time to time I have to remind myself to pop the ego bubble (I wrote a post on bursting an inflated ego and focus on the people around me. Great post.


  6. Thanks for the comments everyone! Sorry I haven’t followed up sooner!

    @Lynn I love your point about personal branding also being what we have to offer, not just we have accomplished. Do you find that same advice can carry over to PR for clients/companies, particularly in PR? In that case, I still feel that people want to know “So, what have they DONE?” Interesting distinction. Thanks for the comment!

    @Annelie Interesting comparison. After studying abroad in Copenhagen, I too noticed differences in mannerisms. I found people kept to themselves much more and “bragging” was less popular. Do you find you prefer one style over the other?

    @Kristina I too am a very passionate person. And a vocal one as well–which is why I have to remind myself of the difference between excitement and bragging. There is a fine line and thats why it’s important to take cues from people around you and think about what you’re saying and doing. And thanks for the congratulations :) Good luck to you after graduation as well.

    @Kevin Thanks for the comment. I tried to read your blog post, but the link didn’t work!

  7. Dan, I appreciate your passion towards your work and love to see a post that contrasts and inspects a “sensational” post like Ms. Trunk’s. Unfortunately, my undergraduate experience with career centers is close to zero. As the university faced increasing budget shortfalls over the past few years, career center was a department that repeatedly suffered. In addition, there was little to no effort from career service to reach out to my area of study, engineering.

    Granted, I could have taken the extra step to immerse myself and get involved with the career center department; however, after reflection, I realize I made a decision to spend the small amount of available time for job hunting/networking doing the work for myself. I researched and found an internship opportunity, began building a professional network, and eventually earned a full time position, due in major part to the professional network I established.

    In a similar but different line of thinking, Seth Godin argues that career fairs are simply an outlet for companies to bottom fish and fill average jobs:

    IMHO, I believe career centers will have to adapt and evolve to the ever changing “career” marketplace.


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  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

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    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

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