Personal and Business Branding… Yes, Again

Have you noticed that more and more people are now creating their own businesses? It’s not surprising, what with the virtual collapse of our economic system as we know it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all happy and smiley about the wonderful opportunities that hardship can bring us, since I don’t want to invite a virtual smack in the head from any of you. They call it hardship for a reason. Believe me, I know this.

However, if you do find yourself in a relative state of hardship, and you are faced with a kind of sink or swim situation, and you are somehow able to dredge up some creativity and fuel it with enough courage to just go out on a limb and make something exciting happen, well then bravo for you. You’ve got yourself a potential success story.

This is where things begin to get interesting. You start your own business out of your kitchen, or from a laptop in Starbucks, or in your parents’ basement. It’s probably internet based. You’re selling something, or providing some kind of custom service. No doubt you have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to pursue your passion, and this is your moment.

Of course you know that you’ll need to have a strong social media presence, so you create a WordPress blog or a Tumblr page, and promote your posts on Facebook and Twitter. You do your research, and you dutifully post information that’s helpful to your prospective clients and engage in mutually supportive dialogue with other bloggers, sign up to receive one another’s RSS feeds and Like each other’s posts. Your community is building, and all is good.

Then one day, you hit Like on a friend’s snarky FB comment about Paula Deen and you insult a whole bunch of other friends from the South. And then one of your Christian clients is a bit put off because you cheered the federal approval of free contraceptive coverage. Oh boy, you’re in trouble now.

Or maybe a new client you’ve been courting caught wind of your uncertain comments on the Boy Scouts of America ruling and decided that you were too out of step with the times to plan his gay wedding. Or that branding account with PETA fell through because you were drooling over those bacon wrapped dates on your friend’s Pinterest page. Or someone read that gushing comment you made on Ellen’s site and figured you might be a little too risky to manage that church fundraising drive, or that piece of erotica you posted on that experimental fiction site made you a bad fit for those youth writing workshops you were going to teach.

Your life is on display. If you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you don’t live in a remote cabin in the woods, don’t buy everything in cash and of course, do have a Facebook page. Your personal preferences are common knowledge. We know your political affiliations, what city you live in, your taste in music, your hobbies, and anything you’ve ever Tweeted, posted, commented, contributed or shared.

You know some of us are not going to Like you. You may even be the target of vicious attacks, if you speak your mind loudly enough. Get ready for it. This is the climate in which you are doing business.

Did you think I was going to tell you to be careful what you post? Nope. I don’t really care. And honestly, unless you are posting pictures of your nude or partially clothed private parts… wait a minute, scratch that. Isn’t Anthony Weiner now the frontrunner for the democratic candidacy in the NYC mayoral election?

There will be people who will love you for what you post, and there will be those that hate you. Try not to care so much. It’s a brave new world, and you’ll have to toughen up if you want to survive in it. Go on and brand your business, and be yourself. If you shine brightly enough, you will attract the people who really want to work with you. No matter what you’ve posted…

Oh, and that virtual smack in the head? Bring it on…

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