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Is your inflated brand scaring away prospective employers?

19 May
Is your inflated brand scaring away prospective employers?
A few weeks ago, a few social media consultants and myself were having a spirited discussion regarding solo-preneur to micro to small business growing pains. What some of us were really saying was: I’m starting to feel that owning my own business isn’t fun anymore, I think I like working as a consultant better.We toyed around with the idea out loud and with others like was it time to get a full-time job? And if it was, could having a gigantic personal brand do more harm than good? Could my personal brand actual scare away potential employers?Is this really possible, I thought. I had spent the last three years or so, building a personal brand that stood for something and reaping – what I believed were — the benefits of a strong online and offline reputation. I never considered the possibility that  my persona brand could be too big for an employer?

Of course everyone from Katie Couric to Angela An and every other news caster, employment counselor and economist has talked about the importance of networking and building a brand. But what if the opposite can be true, with potential employers declining to meet with you because your brand is too big?

We speculated about the negatives of hiring someone with an inflated personal brand. Someone in the company — presumably a decision maker — doesn’t like you because of some inflammatory remarks you made at a speaking engagement.

Especially at a small business or startup, the president may be concerned that by hiring you, your brand will overshadow the company. We also speculated as to whether or not, expectations of what you can do and accomplish are inflated because of your larger than life online persona.

Clearly that conversation got me thinking. So, I reached out to someone who I know works with small businesses and asked what she thought about the question: Can a strong personal brand scare away a potential employer?

Here’s some of what Andrea Applegate of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce had to say on the subject.

Regardless of your occasional tech and social media savvy lawyer or nurse,most small business owners really don’t know much about social media. She continues, “technology, PR, marketing, or youth oriented industries are the types of small business owners that are well versed in social media.”

Andrea notes that since, “small businesses in other industries don’t even understand social media, so it (the killer social media brand you’ve been cultivating) is meangingless to them.”

Here’s the real dagger in your social media lovin’ heart: According to Andrea, “most small businesses and startups have no real understanding of how powerful social media can be and is.”

Although this is good news of sorts. I mean if you decide to hang up your consultant lifestyle for a straighter laced existence, then working with a startup or small business feels like less of a sell out — over working for the man and going straight corporate.

But that brings to light another problem: My potential audience may not have any idea about me and my awesomeness? Now what do I do.

According to Andrea Applegate — it’s time to get integrated. Since many business owners have their finger on what’s happening in their industry — start working traditional reputation building channels as well.

Social media my not be the first place your audience turns for everything from coupons to daily news, said Andrea “you have to distinguish yourself as an expert in your filed using traditional mechanisms (like speaking at conferences, writing white papers, etc.) because these activites have a higher value for these employers.”

Whoa, so you’re advice to consultants thinking about getting a 9 to 5 gig with a small business or start up generally is to go integrate old school reputation management with new school personal branding methods. That’s great advice! Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but valuable nonetheless.

What do you think? Is this sounds advice to consider, or B.S.? Are you thinking if the company doesn’t get social media is it not the right place for you to begin with (I admit that’s my gut reaction =)

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