What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is the impression that someone leaves with people after an interaction. Every person’s brand is different. It’s made up of a unique combination of professional skills and experience as well as personal interests and values.
Your personal brand is your story. It’s an authentic reflection of your behavior, attitudes, spoken and unspoken words. You’re the author. It’s up to you to determine how you want the world to see you.
What’s the difference between your personal brand and professional brand?
Some people think their personal and professional brands are two different things.
Their personal brand is more about what they do and enjoy, and includes their hobbies and side projects. Their professional brand is their work, whether they’re an employee, a small business owner, or a service provider.
Often people keep their personal life separate from their professional life.
But we’d argue that your personal and professional brand aren’t two separate things. You may be more polished at work and more relaxed at home. But you still have the same values beliefs and interests. In the end, you’re just one brand.
How much should your brand focus on personal life versus professional?
It’s important to find balance. But that balance may look different for everyone.
For instance, some marketers do work for “sensitive industries,” such as healthcare, government and legal services. That can make it challenging to disclose professional accomplishments that are tied to what they do, and who they do it for. So it may make more sense for them to focus on more personal interests and passions.
On the flipside, maybe you own a small business, and want to focus on professional merits to help the company grow and become more well-known.
Job recruiters, hiring managers, potential clients and customers want to see your professional image. But they also want to know who you really are. That’s why they Google you and check out your profile on LinkedIn.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to personal branding. It’s up to you to create a balance based on what you hope to accomplish.
What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t built a personal brand?
Just start. Even the smallest effort is a step in the right direction. Every detail doesn’t need to be perfect. You have the ability to delete information, modify your viewpoint or completely change your mind.
Plus, it’s okay to make mistakes. That’s part of being human. And the whole point of building a personal brand is to let your authentic self shine. Because people like doing business with people they like.
Also, don’t be afraid to post about your interests. You may think they’re uninteresting. But other people might find them fascinating and want to know more. You could even gain new followers and connections who share similar interests.
What’s a key benefit of developing your personal brand online?
One of the biggest benefits of creating a digital footprint is connection. Social media allows people to connect with others who share similar interests. This includes people who work in the same industry, but also people who may be interested in your lifestyle, hobbies and side projects. Your personal brand can help connect your to new friends, mentors, business partners and even new clients.
Full Episode Transcripts
Tessa Burg: Hello, and welcome to another Office Hours. We’ve brought in some new faces today. We have Crystal Madrilejos. She is our VP of Creative Strategy. And Sean Hirsch. He is a UX Designer here at Tenlo. And Cheryl is coming back for another Office Hours, my co-host on Lead(er) Generation. And today we’re talking about personal branding.
Tessa Burg: And right before we got on the Zoom call, we were having an offline conversation about how kind of prickly and spicy this topic can get, since some of us are super passionate about our careers and what we do. And what happens when maybe your company doesn’t want to leverage or have you share all of that passion. There might be some ownership on their side. But what about when it works out?
Tessa Burg: Madeline did an awesome job of giving us some tools and processes for using our personal brands for good. And part of that being not related to work and being who you are, and how can companies leverage who you are and what you’re passionate about to be a part of their offering, to be a part of how they build relationships. So a lot of stuff to cover in a very short amount of time.
Tessa Burg: If you have a question, go ahead and throw it into the chat and we’ll answer it live. But I’m gonna go ahead and kick it off, and first just kind of get roundtable reaction to the interview overall. So Crystal, what were your thoughts on the interview with Madeline?
Crystal Madrilejos: I thought it was great. I know that you and I had chatted about Madeline separately. I really love this idea of there are a lot of people in the world doing amazing and wonderful things. And especially if you’re a doer and you’re really into it, you might not realize that other people may be inspired by what you’re doing. You just might not think about sharing it.
Crystal Madrilejos: And I feel like it’s really, I feel like it can be a real confidence booster in people’s careers, to understand that the things that they do, people are interested in. Even if you’re sort of heads down doing the work, there are people who are interested in that. So I thought it was really valuable. I liked some of the things that she talked about around especially with the spaces that she works in. How people navigate sensitive situations where they may work in government where they can’t even talk about the things that they actually do for a living. And how do they curate or create a personal brand around it to help support it.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. No, I agree. Sean, what were your thoughts?
Sean Hirsch: I thought the episode was really interesting. When I hear the term personal branding, sometimes I think of it from a design perspective. Like what is my logo on my resume? Or what does my business card look like? Just those aesthetic things.
Sean Hirsch: But listening to the episode, it really got me thinking about all the different facets of your personal brand, and how important, just like the tone that you’re using when you’re interacting with people on platforms is. And I thought the bit about bringing forth that authenticity was so important, ’cause I think about the people that I interact with on LinkedIn or Facebook, and I latch onto people who do emit that authenticity. And you just can feel they’re being real and that they’re actually passionate about what they’re talking about.
Sean Hirsch: And listening to the episode, I was like, “Well that’s really great to strive for, but it’s one of those things that’s definitely easier said than done.” So I’ve definitely been thinking about how can I start to bring forth that passion and authenticity in my own personal brand, which could definitely use some work. So I have some to-dos on my end after listening to it. But it was great.
Tessa Burg: That is interesting that you say you have some to-dos coming out of the conversation. That’s always our objective with the episodes, is to really inspire people to action. Cheryl, for you, did you have any next steps that you think us as the host could take, or how could we get better about leveraging our personal brands or creating them to support leader generation or Tenlo?
Cheryl Boehm: Well, it’s funny you asked that because I had never really thought about my personal brand before, and the impact that it has on the podcast and how I am the face of that. So that alone was eye-opening for me, that I do need to think about my personal brand more. And she gave some great tips about building that house and having some consistent messaging around things that you are passionate about, whether it’s directly related to work or just your personal passions. So that is my next step, is to start to build that brand house out for myself, and to really find those areas that I wanna focus on and start presenting more content around those areas.
Crystal Madrilejos: Cheryl, I absolutely love that for you, because you are one of those coworkers where I am continually amazed and surprised by the things you have going on in your personal life. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, Cheryl. I would never have thought.” Or “Oh my gosh, that’s so interesting that you’re taking tai chi just for fun.” It’s like there’s so many things you do, And I feel like you’re one of those people that not only talks about work, you do a lot of stuff. And you just don’t even think to amplify it because it’s just what you do. And it would be such an inspiration to a lot of people.
Cheryl Boehm: I think it’s interesting too, we have an upcoming episode where we’re gonna talk a little bit about imposter syndrome, and how people don’t feel like some of the activities and the things that they do are worthy of putting out there. They don’t think they’re special or interesting. And I definitely have some of that going on. So yeah, I think a lot of people do. So I think that’ll be a great follow-up episode after the one on personal branding, ’cause we’re gonna start getting into, more deeper into some of those topics.
Tessa Burg: So that brings up a really good point. Actually, we got a question in that I love. So why is it worth it? What makes it worth building a personal brand? So if you’re not sure it’s special enough, you don’t even know if your company will agree to it. So Crystal, I’m gonna direct that to you first. Why do this? What’s the benefit to you, the company? What happens?
Crystal Madrilejos: Yeah, I mean, so I wouldn’t wanna say that I have any sort of really defined personal brand. But growing up as not quite a digital native, I’m a little bit older than that, but I have had an online presence in some way for a really long time: like all the way back to LiveJournal and Friendster.
Crystal Madrilejos: So I’ve had some sort of online presence, and I think that the biggest benefit that I’ve found through having some sort of presence online where I am showcasing things I care about or things that I’m doing, is that you find connections with people who are aligned with you in those same areas. And people maybe you’ve never even thought, ’cause you might have different lifestyles or different career paths. But it’s like they might narrow in on that one thing that resonates with them because it intersects with an interest that they have.
Crystal Madrilejos: So I think the biggest thing has always been connection, especially for… I connect great online. I don’t have like a huge, large group of in-person friends. Connecting in the real world was always something that was a challenge for me personally. So I think having those digital connections that can sometimes lead to in-person connections has been helpful for me personally.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, and that creates a lot of acceptance, and I think can be a great tool to combat imposter syndrome. but what about you’re making these connections, it’s super fulfilling. Is there a concern that it starts to take time away from work? And I’m gonna direct this question to Sean, because Sean has a side hustle, and it is just a booming business. And I could see, Sean, your personal brand adding a lot of value to your side hustle. But how do you create that balance? Like if you’re investing time in creating a personal brand, you have a side hustle, like how many hours are there in a day?
Sean Hirsch: It’s definitely a struggle, especially with my particular side hustle, being everything from the accountant to the order fulfiller. But I think it it’s just coming down to compartmentalizing your days.
Sean Hirsch: So saying, “I’m gonna spend this amount of time on sort of my professional tasks and my professional work.” And then you have to switch gears completely to get into that, if you have a side hustle, to get into that mode. I’ve actually kind of struggled in the past with how much of that more personal side to bring into my professional personal brand.
Sean Hirsch: Making skincare products doesn’t really feel related to UX in my personal case, but I do work on the website and a lot of the things for my side hustle. So this episode made me think of, this is one of my to-dos, how can I kind of start to pull some nuggets and insights from my side hustle that do relate to my professional career? And I just need to set aside that time to start to blend the two together.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, and so full disclosure, I’m kind of like Sean’s boss, I guess in a way. It’s up the reporting structure. And one other thing I will say is what I’ve noticed about you having a side hustle is that it accelerates your learning at work. So anytime you’ve been proposed or asked to learn a new skill, do something outside of your role, the fact that you have this side hustle that demands so much end-to-end involvement makes you a faster learner, ’cause you have application to immediately practice and apply.
Tessa Burg: And I feel like your answer also says, and Crystal, what you said, it’s kind of the same for personal branding. Like if we start making this time to create our personal brand, chunk it out in our day, and put ourselves out there in a way that really validates our skills and our passions, that’s going to bleed over into work.
Tessa Burg: So Cheryl, I know this was in the interview as well, but what if the company doesn’t see these benefits, isn’t ready for it? Like what if your personal value and what you’re getting validated for, in this almost like skill acceleration, isn’t it in line with where you work’s value.
Cheryl Boehm: Yeah, that’s a tough one. And especially, there’s certain industries like we talked about like government positions, or anything in the political arena or even medical where you just have to tow a very fine line. But there’s still ways that you can show your passions and who you are as a person without getting into those areas that are tricky.
Cheryl Boehm: Because we were talking about this earlier, people like to do business with people they like. So showing some of your passions as far as whether you’re involved in tai chi, or what you do on the side that isn’t a charged area with tension just shows who you are as a person. And people just feel like they can connect to you better, and that’s gonna help you no matter what industry you’re in, and if you have to stay away from certain topics.
Tessa Burg: I like that. So really having that conversation. Crystal, do you have anything to add there?
Crystal Madrilejos: Yeah, ’cause I was gonna say, if we think about sometimes like the objective of a personal brand, it might not be like how do I make a clear connection between who I am and what I do for a living. It’s more about how do I show that I’m a real person?
Crystal Madrilejos: ‘Cause even when I go on a site and I’m looking at a product or a new small company, I go to the About page to see if is this a real person? And if they just continually talk about the product or the business, it’s like, “Okay, but are you real?” Now, I’m gonna go start stalking on Facebook to see, okay, well what do you like? What kinda of pictures are you posting?
Crystal Madrilejos: So it’s all part of the bigger, you wanna connect with real people. So the fact that you don’t talk about your works still fulfills that objective of showing that you’re a person.
Cheryl Boehm: It’s interesting. I’m glad I’m not the only person that likes to go to the About Us page and read all about a company. Because sometimes that’s what makes you fall in love with a brand, is why they actually started the company, how they got the start. It’s not just about the products. It’s about why they’re creating them. Whether it was an environmental reason, or sometimes you’ll see like in food products, it’s because someone had an allergy or a special dietary need. And you read these stories, and that has so much to do with the brand. It’s not just the products and how you use them. It’s all about why the company got it started to begin with.
Sean Hirsch: You bringing up going to that About Us page kind of comes back to one of the questions that we had about what is the value of doing this and why do it. And something that we come across in our research a lot of times is people are looking to see who is the leadership team at this company, or who are the people who are actually doing the work that I’m gonna be interacting with. And a lot of times, we see direct links to LinkedIn profiles, little bios. Like there is some personality that comes through, even on and About page for a website.
Sean Hirsch: So when you think about building your personal brand, it’s also I think making sure that you’re setting up that foundation for why you are trusted in whatever space that you work in, or showing on your LinkedIn through articles you interact with that you are passionate about this. You’re actually interacting with thought leadership pieces, that stuff you might think is like, “Well, I don’t really need this for me, but it can really benefit the organization you work with, so much more than people realize.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, I think that is a great place to conclude. We got a lot of validation in our chat, and not a whole lot of other questions. I think we’ve hit on a lot of topics here. Let’s just do a quick round-robin. if you have any final thoughts to close, what would they be? Especially for people who are thinking, “I do wanna do a personal brand.” What would you say to them as a first step to help them get started? Cheryl, I’ll start with you ’cause you’re a master of words. I Feel most comfortable putting you on the spot.
Cheryl Boehm: I would say, “Just get started.” I used to have this viewpoint that every single thing had to be perfect before you put it out into the world and the universe. And that view has definitely shifted. And sometimes you just gotta get started. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry, especially in a digital universe. Things don’t last forever out there. You have the ability to take things down and modify ’em and change ’em. So just do it. Just start small, get something out there, and then you can change it as you learn and grow, and further build that brand.
Tessa Burg: I love that. Crystal?
Crystal Madrilejos: Yeah, I mean, building on what Cheryl was saying, along those same lines, And I know that it was something that was talked about in the episode, was this fear of making a mistake. And I think it’s okay, because if the whole objective is to show that you’re a human, it’s a natural thing for people to make mistakes. It’s authentic to make a mistake. And also, it’s okay to change your mind. I mean, God knows what I wrote on my LiveJournal in 2002. I probably changed my mind about it .
Tessa Burg: Yeah.
Crystal Madrilejos: And it’s okay. It’s part of who I am, or at least built who I am today.
Tessa Burg: Mm-hmm, I agree. Sean?
Sean Hirsch: I would say, “Don’t sell yourself short or the things you do.” Because this is something I have to tell myself, and it’s what holds me back from posting about things is like, “Who cares about this?” Or is this really that interesting or special? Just start posting about it and talking about it, and you’ll see what people find interesting and react to, and then you have a great jumping off point from there.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. I love that. I read this quote that personal branding isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. So it’s really about just bringing visibility to the things that are authentically you. So I think I am gonna post a video of me competing in the parent hip hop dance battle, but everyone feels really comfortable that I’m a horrible dancer. If there was any doubt how great. Not good.
Cheryl Boehm: I can’t wait to see this.
Tessa Burg: Oh my gosh. I watched it for the first time all the way through last night; my daughter forced me. And ugh, it’s so bad. It’s funny bad though.
Cheryl Boehm: Is it one of those things where it’s so bad it’s good?
Tessa Burg: It’s so bad you will laugh, maybe cry. But thanks everyone for attending our Office Hours. These are so much fun. I love chatting with you. I love getting the questions. In the future, we’d love to have more people show their face, maybe do like a little clubhouse-ish thing, but in a different space.
Tessa Burg: So tune in next time. Visit tenlo.com/podcast to listen to Lead(er) Generation episodes. We cover everything from website development and different tactics to generate leads, up to personal branding. And yeah, we’ll talk to you next time. to hear from you soon. Bye.
Cheryl Boehm | Director of Copywriting at Mod Op
Crystal Madrilejos | Vice President of Creative Strategy at Mod Op
Sean Hirsch | UX Designer at Mod Op
Tessa Burg | Host of Lead(er) Generation | Senior Vice President of Technology at Mod Op
How To Use Your Personal Brand To Generate Leads
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