career advice, career management, Careers, personal brand management, Personal Branding

Feedback: Learn More So You Can Earn More

Mary Rosenbaum | December 8th, 2015

How open are you to feedback from those you work with and for, or even from friends and relatives? I know from past experience that praise goes down real easy. Constructive criticism, no matter how couched the wording, goes down like castor oil – it may be good for you but it tastes really bitter and you want to spit it out as quickly as possible.

Yet, how can we learn so we can continue to earn? How we view and judge ourselves is very much like the way we see ourselves in the mirror. The mirror I look at is different than the one that others hold up in front of me. To prove it let me ask you this question:

Have you ever walked down the street and caught your reflection in a store’s plate glass window? Is it the same image you see every morning in your bathroom mirror? I know for a fact it isn’t the same image for me or for most people I know. Seeing yourself with “fresh” eyes can be an enlightening experience.

Obtaining feedback from others is a great way to see yourself with “fresh” eyes. But only if you let yourself really hear what they have to say.

Recently while working with a client, let’s call him Steve, it became clear that there was a distinct disconnect between the feedback and the reviews Steve was receiving and the way he thought he came across. Steve kept hearing that his work was good but that he needed to be more of a team player, be more outward focused and that he lacked leadership skills. Although his work was exemplary he was never considered for a more senior role or for more visible projects. In attempting to remedy this, he tried to gain greater visibility with senior management by highlighting his successes through emails and increased participation during meetings. Nothing helped. His career was stalled.

When receiving feedback, Steve became defensive and believed that he did everything right, that the feedback was wrong, and that it was based on either jealousy or fear. He didn’t realize that he needed to change his behavior and deliver on the full value of his company’s expectations for someone in his role: his job included helping to ensure that those on his team completed their tasks as well as he did so that creativity, speed, accuracy, and success could be achieved for the group as a whole, not just for him. His attempts at grabbing the limelight got him visibility alright – but not in the way he hoped it would.

Because of his continued refusal to see himself with “fresh eyes”, his personal brand, his reputation, was damaged.  Only when he gained a better understanding of the wide gap that existed between his behavior and the company’s expectations could he then begin the difficult task of repairing his reputation. And that is still a work in progress.

As someone who specializes in helping clients understand, communicate, and leverage their personal brands, I know that one of the main ingredients in the branding process is being clear on the impact you have on others (seeing your reflection in a different mirror). Why? Because in your personal and professional life, your reputation, how you are known, will always precede you.

You are always trying to reach your networks network so you have to know: What are your followers going to say to theirs? What information will Steve’s current and former bosses and colleagues be passing along to others? And what impression has Steve been conveying to others both inside and outside the company with whom he has contact?

How others view your work and the value you deliver may be different than your own perceptions of how you come across. Here are a few ways to continue to learn so you can earn:

1. Solicit feedback. Ask those around you for ways you could improve upon what you do for or with them. They will feel flattered that you think their opinion is valuable. By having them try to help you get better or clearer on the way you work makes them feel like partners in your success.

2. Be courageous and be humble. Rather than becoming defensive and going into attack mode thank those providing feedback for their honesty. Let the words sink in. Go back and think about what you heard not from the standpoint of how you felt when you heard them but rather how these words apply to what you know about yourself versus how others see you. Most importantly use these comments to help move you closer to where you want to be.

3. Reciprocate with honest feedback and become a partner in the success of others.

For those of you who have the courage to gain a better understanding of how you impact others and how this affects your career, contact me for information on how I can help you highlight your strengths and define your brand.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. She has worked with clients from a variety of industries including Financial, Hospitality, Technology, Law, Real Estate, Journalism, Non-Profit, and Human Resources.

Want a Career Lift? How to Get and Keep a Sponsor

Mary Rosenbaum | June 9th, 2015

WE ALL WANT THIS – someone who is committed to helping us achieve our career goals – someone who will open the right doors, introduce us to the right people, recommend us for the projects we want, the positions we want, the clients we want, and the raises we want. SOMEONE WHO WILL FIGHT FOR US.

That someone who is committed to helping you is a sponsor, not to be confused with a mentor. A sponsor provides strategic input and makes it happen. A sponsor is an active advocate who will use his/her influence to spotlight you and your achievements so as to enable you to reach your goals. A sponsor is usually one or two levels above your direct manager in a large company or a founder/president of a small company. A sponsor does not necessarily work in your company but is in a position to use their network, knowledge and experience to open doors and be your brand ambassador.

By contrast, a mentor plays a more passive role. He/she is someone who can help you navigate your company, answer your questions, provide you with constructive criticism and suggest ways to improve your work product. A mentor is usually one level above you but can be more senior depending on the organization.

So how do we get want we want?


1. Find the right person. In order to ensure a strong sponsor/protégé relationship, look for someone who embodies your same values, whose strengths you value, who has not only the seniority to help you but the network you seek to penetrate.

– Identify the senior managers who benefit from the results of the projects you complete and seek out opportunities to make an introduction.

– Attend corporate events and introduce yourself at meetings and events.

– Join and actively engage in outside organizations where you can demonstrate your expertise (charitable, community, educational, professional) and gain exposure to higher level professionals and/or those with strong influence.

– At times you can convert a mentor/mentee relationship into a sponsor/protégé relationship if your mentor has the skills, seniority, and network that you seek and the willingness to make the shift.

Finding the right sponsor who wants to take on the role takes time and research but is well worth the effort.

2. Leave mediocrity at the door. Do your best work – ALWAYS. You have to be noticed and recognized as someone who can deliver superior work each and every time. Volunteer for projects, especially the ones where your potential sponsor would be likely to hear about or benefit from the results.

In order for your sponsor to go out on the limb for you, he/she must be confident that you won’t tarnish their reputation, their personal brand. Once the relationship is secure, you become their brand ambassador – your work reflects on them and their leadership skills.

3. Ask for what you want and be specific. Once you have identified a potential sponsor, ask for a meeting. Once there, you can describe your background, highlight your successes and skills, and most importantly, be specific in describing your immediate and long-term career goals. Ask for criticism and advice on how to achieve the goals you set for yourself given the background you described.

Remember, you’re not asking for a job; you’re asking for professional advice.

4. Are you sponsor worthy? How does your personal brand stand up? Once you ask, you can be sure that inquiries will be made regarding you, your work, the value you provide, and how you fit in with the culture of the organization. Make sure your reputation, your personal brand, is as strong as you described. If not, put some work into how you are viewed, your visibility and your credibility before you make the ask.

5. Give as good as you get. Since the sponsor/protégé relationship is somewhat symbiotic, it’s equally important the sponsor you select can benefit from your strengths and your network as well. A mutually beneficially relationship is what will make it a successful one. Loyalty and trust is the bedrock of this relationship.

Keep them in the loop on topics that might be of interest and help to them – your network and your perspective differ from theirs, so your opinions count. Offer assistance whenever possible in helping them achieve their goals both inside and outside the organization.

6. Keep the lines of communication open and constant. Ask for and accept feedback, provide updates on your progress, check in regularly (in person, on the phone and via email). Silence and an unwillingness to accept criticism will kill the relationship.

7. Pay it forward. Become a sponsor yourself. It’s never too early to take on this valuable role – because both the sponsor and the protégé benefit from this relationship. As mentioned earlier, good protégés help their sponsors by supporting them and providing them with valuable input. Building a team of loyal, trustworthy, accomplished professionals reflects back on your leadership skills and enhances your personal brand.

Additionally, your sponsors bask (professionally) in your success when you grow your network of protégés.

8. Don’t limit yourself to one sponsor. As your career progresses, your needs will change. Adding to your arsenal of supporters can only enhance your career progression. But remember, maintaining each relationship takes work, a time commitment, loyalty, and a responsibility to deliver on your promise of excellence and support. So choose carefully and choose wisely.

If you have any additional comments and suggestions please let us know.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. For more information email email hidden; JavaScript is required

How To Create A Memorable Elevator Pitch

Mary Rosenbaum | March 9th, 2015

What type of reaction do you get when you introduce yourself at a conference, meeting or networking event? So much has been written about the elevator pitch yet most people still have a hard time making it sound compelling, authentic and memorable.

I attended an event a few weeks ago and was surprised at how people described themselves when asked about their job or business. It was as if they had memorized a speech – not a long one of course because this was their elevator pitch, but they sounded canned and well rehearsed. Needless to say, they weren’t memorable.

If you are doing something you enjoy and are good at, describing it to anyone else should be easy; it should flow. And even more importantly, it should excite or create interest in the listener. Instead these descriptions sounded as if they were reading a label describing the contents of some packaged food product. Even worse were some of the catch phrases like – “problem-meister” – cute but could be off-putting to some.

When deciding on what to include in your introduction, think in terms of what you want them to remember about you. Here are some ideas you might want to include.

Your Introduction Should Answer These Questions

– What you do?

– Who you do it for?

– What are your deliverables (the pain points you eliminate)?

– Why should I hire or use you?

You Want To Tell Them Why

Adding some insight into who you are and why you do what you do provides an excellent foundation for connecting with other people. We always look for some commonality when we meet someone new. Sharing a passion or interest, especially if it relates to what you do opens the door for further conversation. So answer:

– What am I passionate about?

– How does my work help me feed that passion?

– What makes me feel good about what I do?

Give Them Results – Validation

– How has my experience enabled me to be successful in the work I do?

– How does the work I do satisfy my clients’/company’s needs and goals?

Be Genuine

Authenticity is magnetic. If what you say is genuine, this will elicit further questions not only about your service or work, but about you as well.

Mix It Up

Whenever I introduce myself, I have a different way of saying it each time. Although there are points I want to make, by not memorizing a script it’s more authentic and can be geared specifically to the audience I am addressing. By trying out different introductions I get a much better sense of what resonates with my audience.

Now give it try and put more of yourself into your introduction or pitch.

Need help strengthening your brand positioning? Whether you’re looking for a job or seeking a promotion, and you want to take control of your career, let’s talk about how I can help. Contact me.

Personal Branding on Steroids: Networking That Works FOR You

Mary Rosenbaum | February 24th, 2015

Networking is at the root of a lot of the work I do with clients, whether they are looking for a job, seeking career advancement, or want to increase their client list. Effective networking is Personal Branding on steroids. The more people know what you do and how you do it, the more you become known for your areas of expertise.

What I have found is that most of us disregard an entire group of people when we think about spreading our personal brand – our family and friends. Many of us tend to regard our family and friends differently than we do our “professional network.” Yet this is the group that has the potential to be our best brand ambassadors.

What do I mean by that? This example should help clear this up:

I was visiting with friends some time ago and inquired about someone they had known for years who had recently gone into consulting. It took them many attempts to try to identify what specialty their friend provided. They finally gave up and admitted that they really didn’t know. What if I was someone who could use this person’s services or be able to refer him to someone I knew that might need what he provides. But that will never happen.

Are your family and friends good ambassadors for letting others know what you do professionally, what your goals are, or what you are trying to achieve? Our expanded network includes not only the people we know but extends to those known to our immediate network. Just look at your LinkedIn numbers and you’ll see the scope of how your potential professional network exceeds your immediate contacts.

And with family and friends, we often overlook what I call “low hanging fruit” because we put them into different categories than we do our professional contacts.

It is important to communicate and define your brand to those you are close to in addition to those you know professionally. An integral part of personal branding is communicating what you want others to know about you and to brand those ideas and words in the minds of others so when they describe you to people they know, those are the words that will come to mind.

In providing your friends and family with information, it would be beneficial to:

  • Give them a detailed description of the type of work you do, the skills you employ in your work, the companies or industries you have worked for or the type of projects you have completed. Tell those stories that “show” your skills and that’s what they will remember.
  • Provide them with an understanding of what you need – if it’s a job or a role you want to play within an organization, be specific as to what you want to do (not only the title you want), if it’s clients you want then what type of clients would be suitable.
  • Let them know what your qualifications are so they have a clear picture of who you are, and consequently, they can more easily convey your expertise to others.

You need to let them know what you are good at, what makes you good at it (your validation), who you work with or for, and what you want or need. Don’t overlook the value of this type of “word of mouth” advertising. So go ahead, ask your friends if they can describe you in a way that conveys your expertise as well as your needs and wants. If not, get to work and spread the word.

Personal Branding: What You Do Is Only A Small Part of Your Story

Mary Rosenbaum | February 6th, 2015

An important part of your personal brand is your story. The most difficult part of defining your personal brand is unearthing and then communicating what makes you good at your job, why you stand out, and what propels you to do what you do.

Each of us has a unique story – one that helps us stand out.

Some time ago I worked with a young woman, a daughter of a friend of mine, who was a senior at a high-ranking university. She was able to get great first interviews during on-campus interview season. Her problem was she rarely made it to a second interview and couldn’t figure out why.

Compared to her fellow students who were getting those call backs, she had similar grades and had taken the same courses as they did. She thought that her lack of professional experience during her college summers held her back. She had chosen to travel extensively each summer rather than “pay her dues” and work as a summer intern in the financial industry (her preferred career choice).

That wasn’t her problem.

What we identified as an issue was her inability to create a cohesive story that would encourage an interviewer to want to know more about who she was and what she had to offer. There was nothing about her story that made her memorable- and standing out was critical given the sheer number of interviews companies scheduled each day they were on campus. Her story, or lack of story, made her forgettable.

Through our work together she realized that she was more than just the courses she took and the grades she earned. That even someone without work experience has experiences that build and exemplify initiative, creativity, leadership, flexibility, resilience, and intuitiveness – each of which are highly valued by prospective employers.

Once we delved deeper into her life and her experiences, we were able to add some color to how she represented herself. Some of the experiences we drew from included:
–  She was President of her sorority.

–  As President, she initiated and executed on a variety of fund raising programs for local charities.

–  She ran the sorority’s finance committee.

– Through her summer travels she learned how to navigate the world, deal with some adverse situations, communicate with people of different cultures, and come to understand that people of other cultures respond to a variety of behaviors in very different ways.

We took these experiences and fleshed them out into stories that highlighted the soft skills that so many employers want. These stories coupled with her strong academic credentials provided interviewers with a more interesting candidate. She gave them enough information so they had greater insight into who she was, what she might have to offer, and how she stood out from her competitors. Her story of growing up in NYC leading up to her desire to work in finance was cohesive, informative and differentiating.

As a professional, you have many experiences to draw from but never forget that your story is comprised of all your experiences and serves as a differentiating factor in how and why you do what you do. Your story should provide us with a glimpse of your character –your passions, your motivators, your values – and how these impact your professional life.


Need help standing out, contact me.

Personal Branding: What’s So Special About You?

Mary Rosenbaum | January 12th, 2015

This question is top of mind of every recruiter, hiring manager, and current manager. When you are interviewing for a job or sitting down for a performance evaluation, you have to be able to articulate what makes you different or special as compared with others in your field of expertise. If you can’t, you won’t get what you want.

It sounds like a simple question but it’s much more complex than what you might think. Most people usually answer with what you would expect – a great definition of the skills necessary to do a good job in their current position. But the real answer would focus on those skills, attributes, abilities, and talents that enable you to achieve a result that makes you standout from your competition. How and why do your results surpass the competition? What do you do that’s over the top that enables you to be successful? Can you demonstrate that there is a correlation between those actions and your success?

The answer to this question is the essence of your personal brand – the something special you are known for, it’s the reason people hear about you, it’s why recruiters call you, it’s why you get the choice assignments and promotions and clients.

My friend Tamara is an outstanding insurance salesperson. She has built a unique business that she defines as client-centric. What makes Tamara standout is her ability to build lasting relationships with people across a wide variety of demographics in a genuine and committed way. Through her actions, Tamara demonstrates time and again that she wants to help her clients find solutions that work for them, not necessarily for her. This fits well with her passion for solving problems and puzzling out complex and unique solutions, not just for the sake of her bottom line. Because she delivers on her promise, her honesty and her sincerity are taken at face value.

One of the most telling examples of how she built her success is the blurring of lines of friendship when trying to distinguish between the professional and the personal. Tamara has a strong personal brand.

As you can see, I never mentioned that she has all the requisite skills necessary for someone to be successful in her industry because that’s a given. It’s the tablestakes without which she wouldn’t even be in the game. My focus is on what makes Tamara special – and as a result, makes her highly successful.

So how about you? What makes you stand out? Can you define the essence of your personal brand?

Do you need help positioning yourself? Let’s talk.

Resumes That Work

Mary Rosenbaum | September 16th, 2014

Do you believe that having a strong resume is important in landing a job or an interview? If you answered yes, then it’s time to rework your resume.

Although this post is geared toward job seekers, I believe that everyone would benefit from a resume redo once a year. Whether you are looking for a job or are content in your current position, it’s always a good idea to go through the exercise of writing your resume. Why? Because it’s important to you have a clear understanding of what you have to offer, what your expertise is, what successes need to be highlighted, and how to best represent yourself to others.

In reworking your resume think of yourself as the Product. And if that’s the case then your resume, along with your collateral materials, have to reflect your product’s personal brand. Gone are the days when your resume used words such as:

  • responsible for
  • managed
  • handled
  • led

Instead, your resume should be much more focused on your major accomplishments and the value you add for your employer. It should be skills focused and success oriented with quantitative results used whenever possible that demonstrate your impact on revenue generation, cost reduction, team building, problem solving, and relationship building.

Hard skills (years of experience, education) are what get you in the game. It’s the soft skills (accomplishments, how you work) that provide the differentiating factors when decisions are made between who to bring in for an interview and which resumes to delete.

Think of how you can “show” rather than “tell” your story. For example, if you led a team through a particular project, rather than state that you led a team on Project A, start with the result, the impact, and the benefit to your company.

A strong resume speaks to an employer’s needs and demonstrates how you can help them.

When putting together your branded resume, try to answer the following questions:

  • What are my assets? Hard and soft skills, job and life experiences, education, extra-curriculars.
  • What are my greatest successes? Quantitative examples should be used here to validate.
  • How am I different/better than my competitors? For example: language skills, international experience, awards, promotions, education.
  • What do I bring to the job/company that is unique? Brainstorm with others: co-workers, coach, managers, mentors.
  • What are the prospective employer’s greatest needs and how does what I offer help them? This is a great place to “show” by using examples.
  • What weaknesses or shortcomings do I have that might prevent me from getting the interview/job? How can I ameliorate them?

Your resume should be geared to the particular job for which you are applying. The more tailored your resume, the more time you spend customizing it, the better your chances at getting that call you’re waiting for.

Have any questions? Contact me.

Career Acceleration Tips:Visibility and a Strong Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | June 20th, 2014

Getting people to know who you are and what you can do – inside and outside your organization – is one of the key ways to move your career forward. Yet it is probably one of the hardest things to accomplish.

Being good at what you do is great. But unless other people – especially those that have control over your upward movement in your company and those that have reach within your industry – know about you, your career can get stalled.

An often-used approach by many professionals is to “cc” managers on those emails that highlight the work they are doing and the progress they are making. Yes, this definitely helps, especially if those managers read all their email. But there are more proactive ways to spread the word and make yourself more memorable.

Based on my professional experience what I see work is:

I won’t focus here on the social media aspects of gaining visibility here. My focus is on the face-to-face contact that sets off viral word of mouth buzz. Here are some ways to gain visibility while at the same time define your personal brand.


Aim higher. I’m not saying that you don’t do a great job all the time, but there are many times when you should be aiming for even higher. Presenting at a meeting or attending a meeting? The questions you ask and the comments you make should spotlight not only your knowledge but should provide insight into how you think. Are you creative, thoughtful, analytical, resourceful, or flexible? This is the time to stand out and be noticed not only for the value you bring but also for your unique way of doing it.


Join professional organizations where you can actively participate in managing and growing your extended network. Join the leadership group and actively participate in any way that makes you more visible to members – join committees, spearhead projects, join panels, contribute to newsletters. It’s a great way to brand yourself within your industry.

Participate in outside activities that allow others to see your many sides. Adding other dimensions to your personal brand makes you more likeable and more memorable. Add more color to your personality through a variety of activities like sports, local projects, literary pursuits, artistic passions, language proficiency or any other areas that interest you. Your bonds with your extended network will be deeper and stronger both inside and outside your company and industry.


Volunteer to be a mentor to someone inside your organization and/or through your professional groups. It’s a great way to brand yourself and grow your exposure while helping others at the same time.

Become a connector. Introduce your professional colleagues and friends to one another.  We all need larger and more focused networks. This will strengthen your personal brand as well as help you increase your own network.

Help others when they need it. We all need a helping hand sometime in our careers, sometimes more than once. By giving freely of your time and your contacts you’re building social capital, strengthening your brand, and doing good.

So work on your visibility, develop a stronger personal brand and you can be sure that you and your career will benefit because of it.

Are you interested in changing jobs, managing your career better, developing a personal brand that works for you and not against you, then let’s talk. Contact me.

Take Charge and Promote Yourself

Mary Rosenbaum | September 3rd, 2013

The workforce today is one of the most educated, tech savvy, super connected, and highly competitive group ever seen.

No longer can a professional keep his/her head down and do his job in the hopes that he will be recognized and amply rewarded by management. Although it has been some time since successful professionals “let” their careers just happen to them, taking charge of your career is no longer an option, it’s the required norm.

Dan Schawbel, a recognized expert on Millenials and personal branding, has written a new book called Promote Yourself, The New Rules of Career Success. The book is a primer on how to develop professional credibility and properly showcase your expertise so you can move your career onto a faster track.

Although written with Millenials (those born between 1982-1993) in mind, this book provides practical and actionable career building advice that can benefit both recent graduates as well as working professionals. Through in-depth interviews with a thousand managers across a broad spectrum of industries Dan provides keen insight into what employers look for when making hiring and promotion decisions.

The book takes you through the process of first – understanding what skills you need to get hired and to get ahead and second – how to promote yourself in a way that helps you gain visibility both inside and outside your company.

“Be more than your job description.” Dan Schawbel

Hard skills, the technical side of the work you do, require constant updating. Continuing education, seeking out new and innovative ways to do what you do and reaching across specialties to increase your knowledge base are today’s requirements for becoming the employee companies want to hire. To help start you off, Dan provides some helpful tips along with some great links to off and online educational programs.

Be memorable.

Dan’s emphasis on soft skills is worth mentioning here. Soft skills are what enable you to move ahead. And in branding terms – they are what make you memorable, likeable, and trustworthy.

Your soft skills are what differentiate you from everyone else who does the same work you do. Soft skills are your “interpersonal skills, skills that enable you to form relationships with co-workers, fit into the corporate culture, and communicate successfully.”

Knowing which soft skills are important and in demand and how to improve them are key to a successful career. The ones you’ll find most often at the top of the list include:

– the ability to work in/with a team

– strong communication skills- written and verbal

– having a positive attitude

– the ability to prioritize work

– being able to build relationships with co-workers, clients, managers

– being adaptable to change

Promote yourself.

For most people, promoting yourself is one of the most difficult things to do. Yet gaining visibility inside and outside your company is also one of the most important aspects of successfully managing your career. Here’s where Dan’s book lives up to its’ title.

Dan provides a road map to a variety of ways in which you can promote yourself and build your brand identity without sounding as if you’re bragging. Through your social media, networking, volunteering, writing, blogging, and speaking, your brand gains exposure beyond your immediate sphere.

Some important takeaways for effective self promotion are:

– know your value and how to articulate it

– always be authentic

– be generous and think of ways to help others

– maintain the relationships you build

– share the credit

If you want to take charge of your career, then Self Promote is a book worth picking up.

Need help with identifying your skills or gaining the visibility and credibility you need to successfully manage your career or get the job you really want, let’s talk.

What Are They Saying About You?

Mary Rosenbaum | May 1st, 2013

I started thinking a lot about reputation recently after I was interviewed for a piece on personal branding by The idea that your reputation can make or break you has never been truer than it is today. And what’s also true is that YOU are in charge of your reputation. Your personal brand, your reputation, is your calling card. It’s what opens doors – or keeps them permanently shut.

Whether you are in your own business or working for someone else, everyone wants and needs to be recommended. Just look at the proliferation of likes, recommends, and follows on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.  But do the numbers you rack up on these sites leverage your reputation, your career or your business or is just a numbers game?


How many degrees of separation?

The definition of a personal brand is the opinion others hold of you in their hearts and minds. That’s the basis for word of mouth buzz.

An important way reputations are solidified is through word of mouth buzz. The fact that we are all linked by six degrees of separation is probably an understatement in a world where our links have grown exponentially through social media.

Word of mouth buzz is viral and can have an even more positive or devastating effect than social media because it’s a direct hit. It lands directly on your immediate target group – potential employers, clients, colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors.

So how do you learn what others think of you?

Something I have learned over the years is that no matter how many times you tell someone to give you an “honest” appraisal of you, your skills, abilities, potential, etc., their response is always somewhat short of the whole truth and nothing but the truth as they see it.  That’s why it’s important to have a way to independently seek out reviews and appraisals that provide you with the feedback you need to improve and strengthen your personal brand and your reputation.  After all, it’s difficult to measure “how am I doing?” if you don’t have the right measuring stick.

If you have honest feedback these are questions you should be able to answer:

– Do people see me the same way I see myself?

– Is my value recognized?

– What needs further highlighting?

– What can or should I give up to strengthen my reputation, my personal brand?

– What do I need to add to my arsenal of skills to enhance and build a stronger personal brand?

– Does my personal brand reflect my short and long term professional aspirations? Or will it hold me back?

Your reputation precedes you.

Social media plays a pivotal role in helping you establish your personal brand. Before I meet anyone I Google them, and look them up on LinkedIn. I want to know as much as I can about them before our first interaction. And I know I’m not alone in doing this.

Before the first conversation, I already have some opinion about that person. Of course, it’s not complete, but it’s more than just having a name and becomes my starting point for getting to know who they are. Whether the news is good or bad, it’s out there for anyone to read. And therefore it’s important for you to keep track of if and how you come across on social media.

Questions you might ask yourself include:

– Does my LinkedIn profile point directly at my personal brand?

– Do my profiles and appearances on all social media sites adequately answer the “Why pick me?” question?

– Is there anything on Facebook or any other social media site that can prove embarrassing or somehow diminish my personal brand?

– Am I visible on the web? Do I show up?

– What can I do to increase my visibility on the web that enhances my personal brand?

You’re in charge of your personal brand so make sure your reputation MAKES you – not BREAKS you.

For business owners, I wrote a piece for FOX Small Business on reputation that might interest you.

Want to learn more about gaining insight into how other people see you and how to strengthen your reputation and personal brand? Contact me.