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by Paul Kiser

Part of the challenge in learning new things is getting enough information until you can hit that magic ‘A-HA!’ moment when the information starts falling into place.  Most of my ‘A-HA!’ moments occur when listening to someone who has insight on the topic AND they can frame the information in such a way that it makes everything else I’ve learned fall into place.

For over 20 years many of my A-HA! moments have come after reading Tom Peters, but recently my A-HA! moments on Social Media have come from listening to people like Dr. Bret Simmons.


He is well ahead of me on the learning curve of Social Media, but I am finding my course in the digital jungle easier by the path he is blazing for the rest of us common fools.  He has a unique perspective that I appreciate, and it doesn’t hurt that we both share a mutual distaste for archaic human and public relations management practices.

A few months ago I listened to him talk to a group of young professionals. During the talk he caused an A-HA moment for me.  He said, “use your name” in the Social Media arena. That seems terribly simple, but it is a foreign concept to many.  He went on to say that the message that a person conveys to him by not using their real name is that they don’t value him enough to share his or her identity.

(Listen to Dr. Bret Simmons talk about Personal Branding)

I go farther than Dr. Bret, because when someone doesn’t use their own name..full name..I wonder what they are hiding.  I can certainly understand situations where using a full first and last name may be a personal security issue; however, if you’re in the business world and you want to build your individual brand then you must use your real name.

My father’s generation expected to work for one or two employers during their career. In the past 40 years that concept has died.  What has replaced it is an attitude by employers of a one-way contract.  They want the employee to pledge complete loyalty, but in return they have no obligation of offering the employee job security. Building your personal brand is the only job security you have in today’s market.

In today’s environment your name should be the address for your website, the title of your blog, and identify you on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Your resume is not what you have on paper, it is what you have out on the Internet and the quicker you accept that fact, the faster you can start working on developing your public image and engage in the today’s market.

Does that mean you risk embarrassing yourself?  YES!  Get over it.  With each embarrassment you will become a little better at self-monitoring, both online and face to face.  We are human beings and if you don’t get a job because of something you said two years ago then you have dodged a bullet.  Any employer who is looking for the perfect employee is going to be staffed with people who don’t risk failure and that is not the company to be associated with in today’s world.

You owe it to yourself and the rest of the world to create your own personal brand. If you don’t then expect your tag line to be, “would you like fries with that, sir?”

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