The Key To Your Personal Brand

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If there’s one lesson/opportunity when it comes to developing your personal brand, it is to make everything about the people you are connecting to and not about yourself.

In re-reading that first sentence, it’s easy to see the true paradox of developing your personal brand. In the end, it’s not about you, but rather what you do for others that will really help you build, share, grow and learn. It’s a common mis-step to make. All too often people concentrating on developing their personal brand (or reputation, or whatever you want to call it) make it all about themselves. They focus on who they know and what they can extract from those people to accomplish their own personal goals or to help them achieve.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just today, I attended Brand Camp University in Detroit, Michigan, and if one message rang true throughout the speakers and attendees I connected with, it was that all of them were interested in building their personal brands by trying to make their community a better place. Detroit is definitely a city in the middle of huge transition. The founder of Brand Camp University, Hajj Flemings, explained that he wanted to create this event because the city "needs" an event like this. Flemings understands that there will be no strong businesses in Detroit without a strong community, but more importantly, he knows that this strong community is not going to happen just because a couple of big companies employ a lot of people. It’s going to take many strong individuals who have the foresight to develop their personal brands and work with one another to rise above this challenge.

Personal Branding is not about me. Personal Branding is not about you. Personal Branding is about us.

The real benefits of personal branding flourish when like-minded individuals have a place to congregate. The amazing thing is that we don’t need a physical location anymore for this to happen (although nothing beats real-life meet-ups – like Brand Camp). That’s the true power of the online channels and the many online social networks that we all propagate. Suddenly, like-minded individuals can socialize, share and connect. In doing so, they can bring real change to their physical communities as well. The trick is in not being selfish. The trick is in not making it all about you (as an individual). The trick is to give abundantly and expect nothing in return.

Do all of this with all of your heart.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a Blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, whatever. If you are creating and publishing content with the sole intent of growing your business or your personal brand, do it with the mindset of it not being "all about me" but rather, "it’s all about you." Real thought leadership and guru-status is attained when others describe you as such. The only way to do get their attention is to make everything you do about them, valuable and relevant to the community at large.

It’s a tall order. It’s also why so many companies struggle and grapple with these channels on an ongoing basis.


  1. Thanks for coming to Brand Camp U and sharing your knowledge with us! I think I can speak for the entire group when I say what we learned from you and all the other speakers is invaluable.

  2. Thank you for the inspiring post and bringing Hajj’s comments to light. The Detroit social media community is strong, all with our own unique brands and talents. Events like these and mind share, including yours, is what will change the face of Detroit’s tomorrows.

  3. Couple of years ago, I did work with a not to fire-up guy experiencing some heavy situations in his life. I always cheer him up to believe in himself and to look forward with optimistic mindset. I’ve tried to teach him how to find what he likes most and to aim to reach it and move toward what he really wants to do. It was a bright guy with good value and I did believe and his success.
    Last week, this guy heard about me and wrote an email saying he finally build a transport company and he is doing what he always wants to do and he is very happy now. He said that happens because I did encourage him to believe and him. I was astonish, but very happy I did help someone with such a positive impact. Now this guy he’s my best promoter.
    Exactly what you said, act with the real purpose of helping others and the feedback will come from nowhere and will be extraordinary good.

  4. Mitch,
    It was great to finally met you in person. I know the Detroit social media community was very excited to have you here. Hajj Flemings and his team is doing great work.
    Social media really has made many communities more social.
    Speaking of guru-status. I liked what Chris Brogan said to me last spring. “All I have to do is walk into a local Penara and ask does anyone recognized me? – to keep my ego in check”
    Not sure if that has worked, but the concept is sound. Just keep giving, growing and be humble. You can’t be everyone’s guru, but you must keep giving back to the community that knows and appreciates you.
    Thanks for giving in Detroit and Brand Camp this weekend.

  5. Hey Mitch,
    You definitely knocked the socks off of the Detroit social media community today. I can’t thank you enough for spending time with us.
    Till next time,
    Brandon Chesnutt
    Brand Camp University Co-Organizer

  6. Where’s the paradox? The best conversationalists never answer questions; they ask new ones. When was the last time you made a post here about your personal life? How often does Julien comment about himself directly, or Chris Brogan – or Seth Godin or any of the other big-name-people toot their own horns by, essentially, speaking in the third person?
    People go to brands that tell the best stories. Tom’s Shoes makes it about the kids they donate shoes to. Milk Muny makes it about th recycling they do, not the people behind the project and how smart they were to come up with the idea.
    It comes down to the difference between people buying into your brand, or you selling yourself. If someone’s looking for a product/service/person to attach themselves to, more often than not, it’s simple.
    Everyone loves buying into things. But no one likes being sold anything.

  7. Thanks for the great post Mitch. First of all, I am sad that I missed a great opportunity to be part of a community so driven to make a difference. Congratulations to those that participated, presented and to Hajj for bringing it all together. Next time, I am totally there!
    I couldn’t agree with you more, and as Dan Pink says in his book, “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko”… It’s not about you.
    What you contribute on social networks to add value to other people’s lives does determine the brand that you create for yourself. When you persist to continuously participate and contribute to your community, as you have Mitch, the personal brand spreads like a virus.
    Thanks for the post.

  8. Mitch,
    I can’t thank you enough for being apart of Brand Camp ’09, the excitement and buzz prior to the conference was only exceeded by your presence and execution. The Detroit social media community is growing and appreciates the perspective of true industry experts.
    Our community is excited to continue their learning on social media and your book, “Six Pixels of Separation” will allow us to continue doing that. Continue to change the world, one person and one pixel at a time.

  9. Mitch, thank you for coming out to BrandCamp yesterday. I enjoyed your presentation and learned a lot from you and all the other presenters. I look forward to reading more of your post in the future.

  10. Mitch,
    As you can see from the comments above, Detroiters have always been passionate about hard work and achieving success. There is a very strong social media community forming and having someone like yourself visit and present will only help with our mission. I’ve started reading your book Six Degrees of Separation and can tell that it will help me as I continue to navigate the waters.
    Keep spreading the good word about Detroit and what many of us are trying to accomplish. We are resilient and we are strong. We WILL make it happen!
    Thanks again,
    David Benjamin

  11. Thank you for coming to Detroit… I really appreciated your presentation and sharing with the world about the transformations we want for Detroit. It was nice talking to you even if it was brief.
    Detroit really wants change but it can’t happen over night. I think Brand Camp, Module, and other things like this will bring together a new set of thinkers which will help change Detroit. It is this community which starts things rolling and thanks for being part of it and seeing what we are trying to do here.

  12. Meaningful post, “it’s all about you” concept should be definitely kept in mind of whoever wants to succeed. This kind of motive will save you from any frustrations and disappointments due to failure. I mean weather you fail or not, you have done your aim and that is to give and share what you can. You have nothing to loose if you aim for this as every task you do for others is already an accomplishment.

  13. Thanks for your post! My concern is about time. Who has the time to connect with the various social groups that they are interested in – along with everything else going on in one’s life? There is so much going on online – in my opinion, it is impossible to keep up with all of it.

  14. You did a great job at Brand Camp U, and let me say; thank you for being so easy to photograph. It makes my job easier when the subject so easily frames themselves for me. You did half the work!
    Luckily, I got to hear your talk while shooting, and the principles you’ve outlined are inspiring and helpful to everyone who is doing business. Thanks for coming to Detroit!

  15. This is an excellent post. It completely makes sense and rings true.
    Question though: How does one measure direct results or return on investment when this form of marketing is so indirect. How does one know they’re doing it right?
    Yes, many people may “get on board” with your brand, but how does one prove that followers and enthusiasts are turning into profits directly?
    Someone could spend months/years building their brand by enrolling people into their community, and making it about them/us…. but where’s the gauge to know if the time spent is actually doing anything?
    just food for thought.

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