How to Own Your Personal Brand

When it comes to the topic of personal branding, my favorite go-to source is Dr. Bret Simmons who teaches in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. Why? Because he’s taught hundreds of business students how to take control of their digital presence, he practices what he preaches by maintaining his own professional blog, and he keeps up with the changing times.

Last week, Bret gave a presentation to the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association about personal branding as it relates to social business that was filled with excellent advice:

Some of the key points he shared included:

  • Personal branding is a huge opportunity and responsibility
  • We are all ambassadors of our increasingly social business
  • Differentiate your personal brand by using personal discretion

Even though I’ve taken courses from Bret in the past, his presentations are always entertaining and valuable. Bret is a great example of a true digital ambassador, always keeping up with the trends, the literature, making connections, adjusting his own approach, and sharing his knowledge with others.

Simmons_AMA Workshop

Bret Simmons 2

Of the topics he discussed, he drove home the point that Google is the new business card. If you Google something or someone and that business or person doesn’t show up on the first page of results, what does that tell you? He shared the Seth Godin quote: “If people don’t select you, spread the word about you, or pay a premium for your services, it’s because they don’t recognize your value.”

Lead with Value 

When developing your personal brand you should first seek out how you can uniquely provide value. Next, lead with your value when interacting with others as a means of connecting with others who share similar values, and then wrap the personal element around the value you offer. For anyone looking to uncover and better define their value as it relates to personal branding, I would recommend this really great book by Porter Gale entitled Networking is Your Net Worth, which includes a section for exploring your values and defining your passions as they relate to business.


Because social business is here to stay, Bret recommends taking control of your online brand: it is a strategic imperative to immerse yourself in the process. He shared his own personal example of how he created a blog related to the value he can bring to others, and how he has spent his time in the digital realm building his own personal brand. Through consistently sharing content, he eventually ended up on page one of Google’s search results, and in the process built a global following far beyond the walls of the classrooms he physically teaches in, not only enhancing, but expanding his own knowledge and reach in the process.

Employees as Digital Brand Ambassadors

Remember the old customer service adage that for every angry customer, that person might tell 20 people about their experience? Now imagine what happens when that angry customer has 100,000 followers on social media and they want to talk about their experience in the public, digitally connected realm. Companies need to be paying attention to what’s happening in the digital space, and smart companies remember that individuals today serve as the ambassadors and unofficial marketing force behind that company. Smart companies treat their employees like gold.

For companies wanting to learn more about incorporating their employees as part of their overall branding strategy, check out this post entitled Why Your Company Should Adopt a Personal Branding Strategy.

About Dr. Simmons:

Bret is a professor of management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. He earned his doctorate in Business Administration at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He has taught university classes in organizational behavior, social business, personal branding, leadership, operations management, and international management. His research currently focuses on eustress, hope, positive psychology and employee health and performance. You can find his Positive Organizational Behavior blog here. Dr. Simmons can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

(Image Source)

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