Personally Bland to Personal Brand

by Rich DeMatteo on December 4, 2009 · 14 comments

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Confession.  I know jack balls about personal branding.  

I could research some popular top authors on branding like Dan Schawbel or Jacob Share but I’m doing just fine, no offense fellers. You see, in a relatively short period of time, I’ve gone from being personally bland, to having myself an increasingly growing personal brand.  The best part about saying that is I’ve made it happen simply by being me.

Nine months ago I was gearing up for a shit ton of unemployed experiences, something I’ve coined FUNemployment.  It began with a few trips to tropical islands, and then on July 11th, 2009, Corn On The Job was born.  One of the first things I noticed about blogging was an abundance of buzzwords, including personal branding.  Thank god I was directed to Penelope Trunk’s blog, she advised me to ignore those buzzwords and come back to them later. Thanks, Penelope!

What have I done right?

Blog Name – I’m quirky, kinda nerdy, maybe humorous, and my blog and blog name match that.  I wanted my blogs name to make people smile, laugh, but mostly be something they couldn’t forget.  I really don’t toot my own horn often, but c’mon, how cool of a name is Corn On The Job?  People can easily assume that my blog presents the lighter side of career advice.  I feel like they aren’t disappointed in their assumptions once they find themselves drifting through my posts.

I write what I know – I have heavy experience in recruiting, both in agency and corporate settings.  I’ve worked in corporate HR, just about completed a Masters in Human Resources Development, and have felt the sting of an acquisition.  Why write about anything else?  Gary Vaynerchuk speaks a lot about how your passion should drive what you do, and this is my passion.  

I make connections – For two years I worked in agency recruiting, selling people to clients on a daily basis.  You must really love people and making connections to survive that business, and I certainly do have that passion.  Whether people comment on the blog, reach out via social media, email, or meet me face to face, I always do my best to engage.  Life is about connections.  Life is about helping one another.  Life is about learning and improving on previous experiences.  I incorporate those things into my blog whenever possible, and it’s mostly done through connecting and engaging with people.  Matt Cheuvront responds to each of his 500,000 commenters on his blog posts, and that is something that I try to emulate on Corn On The Job.

I’m very confident in saying that 99.9% of the people I interact with on Corn On The Job, My Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, and Brazen Careerist had no idea who I was just five months ago.  Flash forward to present time, and via computer screen, you’ve welcome me into your office, family room, kitchen, local starbucks, and even your bed room.    The connections I’ve made with all of you have been incredible, and it’s continuously the most rewarding benefit of running my blog.  

Conclusions

 Don’t try to create a personal brand.  Lately, more than a couple people have mentioned that my personal brand is increasing.  I’ll say it again, the best part about hearing that is I’ve done it all on my own, without research, and without changing who I am.  I’ve taken who I am, what I know, and what I’m passionate about, and used that to create a name for myself.  It’s been a lot of hard work, but work that I love doing.  It all starts with passion.

What are you passionate about?  

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12 comments
Lindsey
Lindsey

Is there room at the Mai Tai party for this little Parisian gal? OR we could champagne in one of Paris' hot lounges, eh? I think you nailed it by saying you write what you know. People who pretend to know everything about everything *cough* the French *cough* are transparent and come off as pretentious and disingenuous. I may know a fair amount about social media and its importance but I wouldn't dare claim myself to be an expert nor focus my blog on the subject. Instead I stick to things I do know about - Paris, food, language, Philadelphia, America's shitty health insurance and a little known brand called...ME!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

I may have over exaggerated on the number! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts on this. I'm glad I jumped on the blogging train when I did. Look forward to all the good things ahead!

Matt Cheuvront
Matt Cheuvront

2,655 approved comments to date Rich. A long way from 500,000. LOL. But in all seriousness - you are on the right track and have a killer community already here. You clearly have the right approach - write about what you know about, don't try to be someone you're not, and do everything you can to bring out the best in your community. Keep doing that - and the rest will fall into place. Going to be fun to watch this bad boy continue to grow my man. We'll be sipping Mai-tai's relishing over our success years from now. Looking forward to it!

Elisa
Elisa

This is such an important message. People seem to think that personal branding is all about using the buzz words and labeling yourself an "expert" and doing projects just to spin your name across the internet. If I see one more "personal brander" RT themselves or their posts more than twice I'm gonna tweak (no Twitter pun intended!) You've grown your brand, organically. You've reached out, built connections, been genuine and been yourself. And as Stuart Smalley would say, gosh darn it people like you. And your message. So kudos on the success and keep going for it. I told you a month ago, you were gonna be someone we could all say we knew when. :)

@HRMargo Margo Rose
@HRMargo Margo Rose

You win my coveted award for "rising new star." In the short time I've known you, I have gleaned value from your tweets and posts. Frankly, I'm getting a little over saturated with all the "branding" talk on twitter. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Being true to yourself is always the winning brand. They say, "you are what you eat." I say you are what you tweet. Be authentic. People will either like you, or they won't, but the people who do are like jewels in a treasure chest, and the people who don't aren't worth your time. Best wishes to you Rich. Margo Rose @hrmargo http://hrmargo.com

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Jessica, thanks for that, surely a great compliment! I know you and I have already covered this, but I should clarify that the bedroom comment was innocent! Just stating that I'm sure people have read some posts from their bed room! Phew! I'm excited to feature next week on www.blogging4jobs.com as well!

Jessica Miller-Merrell
Jessica Miller-Merrell

Good post, Rich! You are certainly one of my great finds over the last two weeks as far as new bloggers go. Don't know I feel comfortable getting to know you outside of the kitchen, living room, or office via computer screen just yet, but thanks for the offer. Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR @blogging4jobs

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Mike - thanks for the compliment. The last week or so I've enjoyed becoming acquainted with The Human Race Horses. Awesome stuff!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Great points here Lindsey! I'm sure I speak for Matt when I say, we'd love to have you come with us, or we could come to Paris! Definitely, write what you know and everything else will be gravy. You do a great job at covering what you know, and I think people can easily tell that about you!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Love that you used the word Tweak, Elisa. You have always been super kind and supportive, and I appreciate every word of it. You da bomb

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Margot, my dear! Thank you for adding your insight and also the wonderful words about me. I'm honest in this post. I don't know much about personal branding. I know how I've done it, and that's only because I've done what I've loved. I wouldn't put the work into everything if this wasn't a joy. A lot of people ask me what I've done since being unemployed, and many times I answer back, "Spend 10 hours a day staring at my computer". I sit and write, and read, and tweet, and comment, and make a shit load of great connections. That's all I've done and I love it. You said it best, "Be authentic. People will either like you, or they wont, but the people who do are like jewels in a treasure chest, and the people who don't aren't worth your time." - @hrmargo