'Personal Brand' Has Power to Ensure Career Advancement

Article excerpt

As uncertainties with the economy grow, more employees are taking active measures to keep their jobs, from putting in long hours to volunteering for various projects at work, in order to stay on the boss's good side.

At the same time, more workers are turning to career or personal branding as a way to become more proactive in their own career development.

"Career branding is more popular than ever because we have more channels to convey our value and expertise to others, such as blogs and social networks," says Dan Schwabel, a popular personal branding blogger and expert.

The idea of personal or career branding originally was popularized by Tom Peters a decade ago, based on the idea that branding yourself and what you do as unique is what will ensure your success. Peters called the strategy "Me, Inc."

Some people believed this was a strategy only used by those in management or by entrepreneurs.

But with the explosive growth of personal and professional networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, employees at every level of an organization are jumping onto the bandwagon of developing their brand to attract peers and employers.

"You always have to view career branding as part of your personal life cycle. The sooner you embrace your brand, the easier it will be to craft a development plan and ride the waves to success," Schwabel says. "For entry-level employees, branding will help them distinguish themselves amongst their peers and position themselves for a management role."

He says that managers find personal and career branding an "essential leadership skill." The reason: "If your subordinates trust you, respect you and enjoy your presence, not only are you more favorable for an executive position, but (you are) more productive."

Schwabel points out that for anyone in today's difficult job environment, it's "imperative" to join social or professional web sites because recruiters often use it as a tool to find top talent, while allowing workers to "keep a handle on every move your network makes."

"Today, personal branding online is a competitive advantage and in the future it may just be a qualifier," he says. "If you don't build your brand online, through either a blog, participation in social networks, or your own website, not only can people not find you, but you will have no way to portray your value and creativity. …