Online presence vs. personal branding

I don’t have a lot of time to spend on this blog post.  But, I did want to get the idea out into the open.  I’ve been developing a presentation for a conference next month on personal branding for career counselors.  But, as I’ve dug into the content of my presentation,  I’ve developed a few thoughts that have potentially influenced my approach to the subject in everyday use at work with students:

1.  There is a distinction between having a “personal brand” and having an “online presence” (fairly obvious).

2.  While anyone can potentially do either of these effectively, explaining “online presence” to skeptics is easier than “personal branding.”  That is to say, those resistant to the concept of branding an individual can still get behind the value of an online presence.

3.  College students can easily grasp the concept of having an “online presence,” where they have a harder time grasping what their own “personal brand” might look like.

4.  College students can reap many benefits from an “online presence” whether or not that presence is fully branded.

5.  I think I’m going to shift my approach to educating students about these concepts to treat the development of an “online presence” as the baseline and the “personal brand” as a next-step for the more-advanced user.

I know that personal brand advocates will disagree with some of this (esp. #5).  But, this represents my current line of thinking.  Any feedback?

Leave a comment


  1. Hey Gary,

    Believe it or not, I agree with this approach! It resonates with some of the same issues I’ve been seeing/thinking about, especially for college students. Telling students to create a personal brand is like telling them to plan their career — it sounds scary and hard because it requires a solid commitment to something. I think your idea of getting them online first is perfect. It can lead to more networking opportunities and help them discover new paths. Then, later, they can create a personal brand around those new-found passions. Makes perfect sense to me!


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