Should you invest time in developing a personal brand that highlights your expertise and perspective? Personal branding can provide major benefits for your career and business. But it also comes with risks and challenges. Looking at both the pros and cons of personal branding can help you decide if and how to build your brand.
Pros: Why Personal Branding Pays Off
More Career Options and Control
A strong personal brand gives you more control over your career path. As social PR coach Adrienne Sheares explained on “The Business Storytelling Podcast, “Having a personal brand gives you the power of options.”
When you build recognizable expertise tied to your name, opportunities come to you. You may get recruiting inquiries for new job openings. People may ask you to speak at events or consult. But it can also help your succeed at your current company … depending on industry and your role.
Ability to Monetize Your Expertise
Beyond job prospects, a personal brand allows you to directly profit from your knowledge. With a large enough following and audience engagement, you can sell products, charge for consulting, or be booked for high-paid speaking gigs. In other words, it brings in business.
Of course, monetizing your brand takes time, effort and knowledge. But the potential is there. Even on a small scale, you could charge for services like freelance writing or social media management.
So if making money independently appeals to you, a personal brand sets the foundation.
Shapes Your Reputation and Image
Rather than letting others define you, a brand allows you to shape how people see you. Through your website bio, social media, content, and media appearances, you control your narrative.
This is especially powerful if you’ve been pigeon-holed at work into a role that doesn’t fully reflect your talents. A personal brand provides a platform to showcase the full range of your skills and experience.
Being Recognized for Your True Self
At its core, a personal brand allows you to share your authentic self and unique perspective with the world. It enables you to move past simply being a cog in a machine and make your voice heard.
Putting yourself out there is scary but also rewarding. As Adrienne said, crafting a brand allows you to “stay true to who you are” and “be yourself without apology.”
Cons: Challenges of Crafting a Personal Brand
Requires Self-Examination and Risk
Building an authentic brand means taking a deep look inward to uncover your true self, values, and what you alone have to offer. Many shy away from that uncomfortable process of self-examination.
It also requires putting yourself out there publicly online or in speaking engagements. Though you’ll get positive feedback, negative comments are guaranteed too. Developing a thick skin is key.
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The Hard Work Involved
Done right, personal brand building takes consistent time and effort. It may mean writing blog posts, creating videos, engaging on social media, networking at events. Promoting your brand is a marathon, not a sprint.
Managing Online Reputation
Once your brand is public, you lose a certain level of control over how others perceive you. If you’re not thoughtful about what you share online, it could harm your future job prospects or partnerships.
Others May Resent Your Brand
Unfortunately, some may try to undermine or discredit your expertise. They may see your growing status as a threat or question your motives. You’ll need to mentally prepare for cynics.
Risk of Pigeon-Holing Yourself
There’s also a risk of getting boxed into one niche if you build your brand around a too-narrow focus. Then you may have trouble pivoting or showing off other skills. So it’s key to showcase the full breadth of your abilities.
Balancing Brand Building with Current Job
If you already have a 9 to 5 job, you’ll need to walk a fine line between devoting time to your brand vs. your employer. Some old-school companies may not see the value and could frown upon it.
Tips to Mitigate the Risks
So how can you enjoy the benefits while avoiding pitfalls? Here are a few key tips:
- Don’t go all in on every hot trend. Stay true to your core interests and what provides lasting value.
- Start small with low-risk brand building on LinkedIn or conversational networking.
- Use off-work hours to work on your brand to avoid conflicts.
- Frame your efforts based on your employer’s priorities, i.e. thought leadership.
- Monitor your online presence and aim to share without oversharing.
- Respond gracefully to criticism and focus on supporters.
- Showcase diverse skills beyond your primary niche.
The Bottom Line: The pros and cons of personal branding
If done strategically, personal branding can turbocharge your career and provide creative fulfillment. But be aware of the pros and cons of personal branding. Play the long game, be resilient, and stay true to your roots.
Ultimately, you have to decide if standing out is worth the risks and effort required. But know that finding your voice and sharing your unique perspective with the world is a truly rewarding journey.