In this always-connected, always-plugged-in world, your personal brand is more critical than ever.
Coming from an entrepreneurial family, I know a little something about personal branding. The term may sound modern – and of course, the practice and philosophy of personal branding changes with the times – but in fact, it’s an age-old truism: You’ve got to self-promote. You’ve got to get yourself out there.
My grandfather was a self-employed electrician. In those days, there was no social media. No Internet, no cell phones, no instant communication outside of the telephone. Even so, there were business cards and the all-important reputation, fueled mostly by word-of-mouth. How do people know you? What do they know about you? Over time, people came to learn that my grandfather was dependable and capable, and rather than desperately seeking customers, those customers started to come to him.
Is it really any different today? Well, sure, in practice, but the goal is the same. Enter global fashion communications executive and Twitter guru Aliza Licht and her new book, Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill it in Your Career. Rock Social Media. (Grand Central Publishing, 2015). It’s a combination of professional and personal advice mixed with personal anecdotes and insider secrets. It doesn’t read like your standard advice book, and that’s because it isn’t.
Licht was one of the first to discover the critical importance of social media in the world of PR, and as Marie Claire creative director and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia says: “Any publicist who wants to be powerful, yet accessible, with a voice that is authentic, unique, and engaging, should follow her lead.” But it goes well beyond empowering the self and giving you sound career tips. This book also shows that today the lines between personal and professional life aren’t so well defined.
And they’re not. Social media can be, and often is, a very personal thing. Utilizing it to promote an image or a brand makes sense but balance is imperative: Where does the self you wish to keep private leave off and the self you need to promote begin? I’ve always found this to be a difficult balancing act and somewhat intimidating. But Licht makes this process sound fun and interesting, as opposed to creepy and worrisome. That’s no easy feat, in my eyes. As an example, check her Twitter page, which is perfectly handled: Just the right amount of interaction with readers, a proper dose of self-promotion, and a knack for connecting and engaging.
Further, it really helps that Licht delivers a lot of life experiences that are identifiable (and quite appealing in her smart, sassy way), because you know you’re reading the words of someone who has done it. This is somebody who went to school for Neurobiology and Physiology and decided she’d rather make a career in fashion. How did she end up being a top executive at Donna Karan? By helping build an organic community of over a half-million followers, by being named one of TIME Style & Design’s “Six Women Who Rule the Fashion World,” by being one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in New York” according to the New York Daily News. So, when it comes to personal branding and social media insight, she’s the one to follow.
I should also add that at first glance, one wants to call Licht “brave” for putting herself out there with such creative vivacity. But as you continue to read, you realize that personal branding has self-confidence at its core. And if you’ve got that self-confidence, “putting yourself out there” becomes a million times easier. Perhaps this is why Licht, with an abundance of confidence, lets us into her life. As she says in the introduction, we see “the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane and the hilarious,” and her goal is admirable:
“I want to give you a cheat sheet: everything I’ve learned. I want you to have choices and be savvy enough to recognize the options in front of you. But more than that, I want you to see that you have the power to create a new path for yourself where there isn’t one.”
So, when you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to start winning. Yeah, that’s right.