Personal Branding and Hard Work: Complementary Efforts to Success

Personal Branding and Hard Work: Complementary Efforts to SuccessThere was a short article on AOL Jobs that quoted writer and director Spike Lee on his take on personal branding.

“‘Too many people are focused on building their brand and not their work,’ [Lee] said, when asked how he’d developed his own iconic brand. ‘Brand is the flash. Work is the substance.’”

Lee makes an excellent point there. Some folks do spend a lot of time making sure their personal branding messages are consistent across online and offline platforms, trying to attract the attention of anyone who will give them a look. And don’t get me wrong – having a well-crafted message is important. The problem is, if the hard work hasn’t been done to support those messages – if there is no substance – everything falls apart like a house of cards that tumbles with a light breeze.

The author of the piece then drew this conclusion based on Lee’s words:

“It doesn’t matter how cool your logo is or whether your Twitter following has broken the double-digit mark: just put your head down and hone your skills until they’re razor-sharp. People will notice.”

That makes it sound like personal branding and work are opposites. An either/or proposition. Unfortunately, choosing to focus on work solely could be a mistake that is detrimental to your career. Why?

1. You fly under the radar of key decision makers in the company.
There are many activities that go on in the daily operations of a business. If you quietly attend to your work and troubleshoot the glitches in private, no one realizes or has the opportunity to appreciate what all you did keep everyone humming along happily. Not exactly a good recipe for getting that promotion.

2. Managers might interpret the lack of interaction with you as a lack of work being done.
Suzanne Lucas (aka Evil HR Lady) writes , “[S]ometimes managers think their mediocre employees do more work because those employees are constantly in the manager’s office asking for help. You have to make sure you aren’t penalized for doing the work on your own.” Wow — how sad that it could be perceived that you aren’t doing anything if you are diligently and efficiently doing your job!

3. You could lose your job.

In a LinkedIn post, Dr. Duff Watkins explains this situation well: “Who gets axed and why? Often it’s the person who is simply unknown to management: the introvert rather than the extrovert, the demure rather than the outgoing, the task-oriented rather than the people-oriented.”

What?!? “But I’m doing so much work — great work!” you splutter. That’s all fine and good, but who else besides you knows that it’s being done? If points 1 and 2 that I talked about above pertain to you, you are actually putting yourself at risk for becoming unemployed if the company needs to downsize.

Balance Is the Key

As I said earlier in this post, personal branding without the hard work to back it up is meaningless. But, as we have also just discussed, hard work without the personal branding can have some pretty serious negative consequences, too.

Like it is with so many things in life, balancing both personal branding and hard work is a goal for optimal career management. Don’t get so wrapped up in one that you lose sight of the other.

Image courtesy of Mary

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