(Update, March 2019: This post was written over four years ago, and I am no longer encouraging my son to develop an online brand.)
I’m not an overly warm and fuzzy mom, and sometimes I feel bad about that. I don’t put my son’s artwork on the fridge, or brag about his baskets scored, karate belts earned, soccer goals, grand slams, and perfectly played piano notes. (OK, maybe that was a brag – he’s an awesome kid.)
I just figure it’s my job to pay for the activities he wants to try, and encourage him when he feels like giving up in the middle. To say, “great, I can see you tried really hard at that (thank you, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman). What else can you do?”
Or, “no, you can’t quit chess in the middle of the semester, because you committed to it and I paid for it already.”
The way I see it, if I do anything right as a parent, my kid will grow up with the same work ethic I did, and the tools to hustle and market himself for whatever life throws his way.
So when I received the following email from the grown child (24 years old?) of a colleague recently, I jumped at the chance to send her my two cents on personal branding:
I hope all is well by you. I was speaking with my dad earlier about my job and how I’m not being challenged enough and there’s no real room for me to grow with my current company.
He mentioned that you started your own company and you may be a good person to contact. I would love to sit down with you sometime just to hear how you worked your way to this point.
I followed up with this:
Nice to hear from you. It took a long time to get to where I am, and like all humans, I still struggle with knowing what the next step is. I was in marketing for 16 years and hated it, until I found a reason to love it. A lot of that was a matter of the marketing world catching up to how people really want to be sold to, but that’s a longer story.
That’s when I decided to create a personal brand and set clear goals for the next phase. So my advice to anyone feeling “stuck” is to work on her personal brand: create a website, start blogging about what you know, and create consistent social media profiles that are relevant to that goal. Go to meet-ups that pertain to your goals so you can network with the right people.
And then sign up for the free trial on this site and go through the “picking an idea” course: http://fizzle.co
Hope that helps!
She replied quickly and said thanks, but she isn’t ready to start a personal brand because she doesn’t know what she would write about.
Your Personal Branding SEO Will Replace Traditional Resumes
This January I quit my 16-year marketing job at a NYC IT staffing company, where every incoming resume looked exactly the same, and they’re all filtered through an applicant tracking system. Trust me: if you don’t know how to “SEO” your resume, you’re screwed and the recruiters don’t see it.
The future of recruiting belongs to smart job candidates – young and old! – who show real effort through online personal branding and community building: self-hosted blogs, code reviewed on sites like Github, active social media profiles relevant to their industries, content published on the right LinkedIn channels, etc.
Teach Your Kids About Personal Online Branding
When my son was 7 and started second grade, every day I picked him up from school the conversation home started with “mom, when can I have my own website?” or “mom, when can I have my own checking account?” He didn’t have enough money in his piggy bank to open a checking account, so we started brainstorming website domains.
I won’t know for many years if I’ve made good parenting decisions, but one thing I’m confident about is giving him online real estate (password protected for now) where he can blog about anything he thinks of. It’s not a “sharecropped” site on borrowed land like Facebook or Tumblr with evolving privacy policies — it’s his own domain that he can own for the rest of his life if he wants it.
My son’s first blog post was a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” from the wolf’s perspective. Yeah, my kid is pretty freaking awesome.