Social Enterprise

Don't make self-promotion your only skill

Personal branding is good--as long as you actually have some talent or skill other than just knowing how to market yourself.

I came a cross a blog today that "spoke" to me. Steve Tobak, writing for CBS Money Watch, put wonderful words to the gnawing aggravation I've been feeling toward the personal-branding movement. I love a person who speaks his mind. I love a person even more when he speaks MY mind.

So here's the big question: Why do I get the feeling that lately a huge chunk of the business world has taken a horribly misguided detour from B2C and B2B to Me2Me? I mean, why does it rub me the wrong way that these Generation Me uber-gurus and experts who've never built a company or marketed anything but themselves are so interested in evermore insidious ways to promote themselves? And why does it feel like what passes for knowledge and expertise these days is really just a waste of genetic material that might otherwise have made something useful of itself?

I write career advice so, yes, I have quoted experts who tell people how important it is to market your personal "brand." But the underlying assumption has always been that you should have some kind of recognizable skill to market. At some point you still have to do some useful work that offers value to someone. I don't want someone working for me whose only real talent is sculpting his or her own image.

You know what happens when people market themselves just for the sake of marketing themselves? You get Kardashians out the wahoo and more Jersey Shore'ons that you can shake a stick at.

Steve's blog is one of the best-written rants against using personal branding in the wrong way that I've ever read:

I don't know, maybe it bugs me that personal branding is such a transparently obvious uberpile of ubercrap that takes self-help to new lows I wouldn't have even remotely thought possible that it actually makes me sad. Or perhaps it's that there's a seemingly endless demand for this sort of self-absorbed, self-centered, self-involved, self-promoting crap by millions of me's just like the personal-branding gurus who spew it.

"Uberpile of ubercrap." I bet he could put that on a tee shirt and sell it.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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