Beth Harte has a great post on Personal Brand Equity. And it’s very timely discussion for me because we talked about it at MSP Social Media Breakfast yesterday. Our topic was the community manager role. In discussing the role & the impending culture changes that Gen Y’s are going to bring to the workplace someone asked, Will companies want to hire people with strong personal brands?

In addition to that Albert Maruggi asked, should companies be helping build personal brands? If they invest in an employee by sending them to training & workshops, then should the employee need to pay some of that equity back when they leave? (It sounds like a prenuptial agreement. If there’s a falling out, you will only leave as financially successful as when you came into this relationship.)

My question is: Does a company want to be filled with faceless, obscure beings? What if they don’t care if their employees have any passion for their profession? What if they’d prefer that their employees didn’t grow professionally? What if they’re not interested in contributing to the industry & profession at large?

I guess I’m not interested in working at that type of a company.

Beth’s post reviews traditional corporate branding. And she adds the following list in regard to the personal perspective:

What are you selling? How does your unique skill set, experience, reputation, etc. achieve corporate goals and objectives?

What’s your brand mark? Perhaps you have a personal logo or an avatar (photo). Are you distinct?

What’s your name? That’s obvious. But is it a well known name that a corporation would embrace? Is it a name recognized and established in the industry?

How much loyalty do you have banked? Can you bring ready-to-buy customers/prospects to the table upon hiring? Does the brand loyalty you’ve established help shorten the sales cycle? Do you have marketing/PR relationships that help save money or generate revenue?

What is your personal brand worth in revenue? What value does it add to the existing corporate brand? (Or does it conflict?) Does your personal brand help propel the corporate brand forward or create buzz?

Yesterday at SMB I proposed that the younger generation is going to expect certain things:

  • utilize social media tools & technology
  • have a personal brand that’s established on social networking sites
  • to enjoy their work & be gratified in it (or they’ll move on)

My prediction is that the smart brands will value those with strong personal brands. I love the term ‘Talent Management’. It’s very similar to community management in that it’s a misnomer. But if you read about talent management the focus is on engaging talented people and ensuring that they’re challenged, it makes total sense. It’s important because they’re intrinsically motivated. My feeling is that those with strong personal brands are leaders & if they’ve taken the time to be outstanding in their own right then they’ll also take pride in doing the same for uplifting the corporate brand. What company wouldn’t want that? Does a company say, ‘Well, we’re fine with our corporate brand being mediocre.’ If a person has worked hard to ‘define’ themselves through education or life experience shouldn’t they be compensated for that?

Peter Kim asked these questions on Beth’s post:

– Personal brands seem best suited for awareness, consideration, and preference. But a different skill set takes over to drive purchase and loyalty.
– When the tangible (e.g. salary) meshes with the intangible (e.g. personal brand), objective metrics for evaluation are critical. We need to solve measurement, fast.
– With the changing nature of work, should employers even “buy” personal brands anymore? Or should they be thinking of leasing them for shorter terms for specific purposes?

I agree with Peter’s distinction that a personal brand is well suited for awareness, consideration & preference. That’s why community managers need to sparkle. I would add loyalty to that set because high level customer service is also a result of an effective community manager.

A personal brand is built over time. And I would argue that time = experience. So if that person has achieved & demonstrated an excellent skill set then shouldn’t salary be commensurate? This brings me back to the problem of companies thinking that they can bring in an experienced community manager at an entry level salary. They’ll bring their metrics & provide the deliverables to justify the cost.

Does “buy” = salary versus “lease” = contract work? For someone to contract they have to more than double their cost to offset being self employed, benefits & retirement. Does the organization get high quality consistent work over a long period of time that actually makes a difference & is adopted? In contrast to having someone on salary leading the corporation in that area.

I’m going to ask Dan Schawbel for his suggestions from the personal branding perspective. And Peter Gold who introduced me to the concept of talent management. What are your thoughts guys? And I welcome my readers to join the conversation too!

Does a personal brand have equity?

*update on this post – Beth had written a previous post. I just realized that Dan was used as an example in that post. (Dan & I have been friends for almost two years with complimentary mentorship. Hence I subscribe to the value of personal branding ideas too. They have served me well & my last two jobs have come to me.)