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Paul Copcutt

Walter, some nice observations. If you are going to have an online presence then proactive management of it is a must.

I do see clients with no managed online presence still have successful careers - being hired purely by results and reputation. But then the online score does not factor in - I am guessing the hiring managers in those cases fall in to the 21%.

I am sure we will see that number dwindle by the month!

Just my toonies worth!

Walter Akana

Hi Paul! Thanks for your terrific feedback and for your perspective. You’re right that many people are successful without a self-managed online presence – and many will continue to be so without it!

Still, as you point out, the trend is the other way, especially as indicated in the data reported in Execunet, CareerBuilder, and Microsoft studies. As well, in my work, I’m running across a lot of potential “digital immigrants” who are beginning to see the need for increasing their visibility, yet need support to start and make the transition. And it looks like this will be a growing trend as we witness the convergence of personal brand, career success, and web presence.

See ya soon!


Hi Walter,

Thanks for a thoughtful post. In particular, I like the point that "reputation exists by virtue of a public life." In the past, this meant volunteering for a board or being a member of the Chamber of Commerce or local Rotary. With social media, the ways that our reputation can spread is expanded, so that we never have to leave the comfort of our office or home to become known to a large group of people.

As you point out, this is a double edged sword. The capability to become known online exists and people expect you to use it! Or risk becoming a nobody.

I agree with both you and Paul that there are professionals who do just fine without an online presence. What they lack in a reputation online, I'm guessing they make up for in miles of experience on the job with many clients/colleagues. But the real question is, if you have at your disposal tools to help accelerate the spreading of your brand, why wouldn't you use them?

Love the Chris Brogan post that you point to. Especially the part about being confident. Chris didn't say this outright but I interpret this as being confident that you have something to offer to others. Several of the commenters talk about being yourself when meeting others. This is no small task, as it requires someone to be comfortable in their own skin, no matter who they encounter.

Thanks again for framing this topic so clearly.

Walter Akana

Hi Carol!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You’ve sparked for me the thought of just how much the context for success has evolved, and how much more aware and proactive we need to be in managing our personal success.

Indeed, while we’ve not typically framed our community activities as a “public life,” it has been exactly those community activities that raised our visibility and fueled our reputations. While we may have realized these activities were key, we didn’t necessarily give it a lot of thought. Reputation was almost incidental. And as Paul has pointed out, there are many successful people who continue to enjoy wonderful reputations not because they pursue it, but as a by-product of what they give to their communities.

Still, in 1997, when Tom Peters introduced the term “personal brand,” he ushered in an era of proactive career and reputation management. In fact, in his landmark article, “The Brand Called You,” he clearly laid out the role of individual responsibility for gaining credibility and visibility in an emerging free agent world. This changed everything, expanding the awareness of one’s brand/reputation and making maintenance of it more intentional – and expected!

Social media has taken us to a new level of expectation and intentionality. Not only do we need to be responsible for our own brand, but we need to show up online as well as in-person! We now live in a time where lack of Google results can work against us. As well, as work and professional relationships shift to the real-time web, showing up on line is going to be even more important! So, indeed, this technology can cut both ways!

Yet, there is a paradox here. Reach colleague, Sheila Goldgrab, in her VideoBIO (http://bit.ly/bbgD4F) says, “it’s a delicious irony, but in the age of new technology, what’s demanded of us is that we’re more human.” Indeed, it's critical to have the skills of the “human artist,” that Chris Brogan refers to in his blog post and in “Trust Agents.”

I’ve said, in a past blog post, that the more things change, the more they really change. Still, there are valuable things that do remain the same. And the human touch is one of them. It’s just that today, technology has given us new and powerful ways to bring that to our communities!

And I think that’s great!

Miranda Vande Kuyt

Hi Walter,

My public life as a pastor's wife can sometimes be more than I can handle. Since discovering "personal branding" and blogging I have been able to dispell the myths of who people expect me to be and put the authentic me out there. Your "branding as conversation" was an "aha moment" for me. I see how I use social media to connect with others and inturn figure out who I am in the process. Great post! Thanks.

Walter Akana

Hi Miranda!

Thanks for your comment!

I think that focusing on your authentic personal brand is a big step in managing your public life. It is especially powerful when it is informed by your own introspective insights into who you are, and your awareness of how your community perceives you.

Frankly, your public life really does challenge you just a little more to be who you are, and not overshadowed by someone else’s role. I suspect that being the pastor’s wife is not necessarily always being Miranda. So, as you live your brand, your public life is about being who you authentically are and demonstrating how that supports your husband, your family, and community.

Glad you liked branding as conversation! More broadly, it is about engaging “your people,” learning what is of value to them, and responding with the best of what you have to offer! And based on what I see at your blog you have genuine perspectives to offer!


Your online presence is no longer about simple advertising it much more. Like the author stated above you have to begin a conversation. To take it one step further a conversation with integrity. Connecting to the reason why you are providing your services in the first place, what is the core value you will be delivering to each interaction across the web. Being aware of these answers makes all the difference when building your presence online. Great article!

Walter Akana

Thanks for your comment, Adrienne! Very true! Whether you’re an individual managing a personal brand or a business, your online presence really is about the conversation as the basis for relationships! I also think if you are offering services, then integrity, authenticity, and transparency are all key to your overall value proposition. A new briefing at www.trendwatching.com notes that serving is the new selling! I believe that! And I feel it is key to meeting the needs of your community and clients over the long term.

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Threshold Consulting

  • Walter Akana is a Career/Life Strategist who works exclusively with mid-career professionals who want to achieve more self-direction and satisfaction in their careers and lives. He is Reach certified as a Personal Branding and Online Identity strategist, and is a Reach Keynote Speaker




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