Is Your Personal Brand Fake?

Published: Feb 16, 2012

Is Your Personal Brand Fake? By Barbara Safani, Career Solvers

I recently came across a video called Sh*t New Yorkers Say. The video is a funny account of what it’s like to live in New York City. It touches on all that is magical and all that is annoying about this city in less than 3 minutes. It’s accuracy is uncanny and as a native New Yorker I’ve undoubtedly uttered at least 90% of the same things about this city during my time here. But I think the beauty of the video is that it depicts New York City life in a transparent and authentic way. It’s a city that attracts and repels its inhabitants at the same time. The feeling you get living in New York City is not black or white. It’s gray. And to me, anything that appears only black or white is not authentic. There must be gray in order for it to be real.

Many of my clients come to me for advice on how to build and integrate a personal brand and an online persona into their job search strategy. Most want a LinkedIn profile and few consider Facebook an integral part of their online brand. If anything, they shy away from incorporating Facebook into their search strategy because they fear doing so will pull back the curtain on who they “really are” rather than keep the spotlight shining on who they would like to be perceived as. They want black and white, but not gray. But black and white is boring, one-dimensional and not believable. Just like many of the LinkedIn profile headlines I read…Visionary CEO…Dynamic Marketing Executive, Results-Oriented Operations Manager…Really? What does that mean? How does that help me get to know you as a professional I can trust? It doesn’t. This approach to online branding reminds me of a blog post a colleague recently shared titled R.I.P. Personal Branding that suggests that personal branding has evolved into no more than being fake. And no one wants to do business or be friends with someone who appears fake.

People who friend me on Facebook see the gray. Sure, they get job search advice, links to great articles and resources, and motivating success stories about my clients and all of this helps build their confidence in me as a professional. But they also see what types of things I am interested in and they get a feel for who I am as a New Yorker, a mother, a daughter, a friend. And if they dig deeper they will figure out that I love dark chocolate, running in Central Park, and high heeled shoes. They get the panoramic view of me rather than just the professional headline. People want to hire people that they relate to and connect with. And you can’t do that successfully by simply stating you are a visionary leader.

Whether you decide to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or a combination of these and other social media platforms, remember to keep it real. Showing a bit of the gray is good for your brand.

Sh*t New Yorkers Say.

About the Author

Barbara Safani is the Author of Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips for Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future. Visit our blog at

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