Building a personal brand

 Ten years ago, one of the then-leading advertising bloggers called me a “lady douchenozzle.” I am still not sure what that means, but I’m certain it is not a compliment. It’s one of a number of insults I’ve weathered in my 16 years of working first as a strategist in the world’s most renowned advertising agencies and then as a brand executive. The internet isn’t always a great place, particularly if you are a woman and a foreigner.

If you’re just starting out, it’s easy to gloss over the negative sides of the personal branding business. There are more than 554 million “personal branding” search results on Google, and while most of these “how-to” guides are useful and inspiring, they also stay clear of the gritty, sensitive, and uncomfortable aspects of having a personal brand. The truth is, to build a truly sustainable digital presence, you’re going to have to put yourself out there — and develop a thick skin for the feedback you’ll inevitably receive. Basically, you have to be willing to be called a “lady douchenozzle.”

If you decide that you’re up for the task, here’s what you should keep in mind:

Be honest. With social media, honesty has become somewhat of a veblen good: rare, exquisite, and in high demand. “Young people are not fooled by social media smoke and mirrors. The kids always know a social media poseur when they see one and are just as adept at spotting authenticity online,” says Steve Dool, the head of brand partnerships at the social commerce app Depop. Honesty should also be reserved for ideas, not for hurting people’s feelings.

Read the rest of this analysis at The Sociology of Business.

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