Jessica Lee = the Paris Hilton of HR. Huh? Personal Branding & Retention…

Jessica Lee Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Jessica Lee

Here’s the thing I like about social media and the blogosphere – you grow your network by leaps and bounds and get to start calling some really smart, interesting people your friends. That would be the case for me and Jason Alba of Jibber Jobber. Sans social media, I would have never met Jason. But because of the magic of social media, I had the opportunity to have him come and speak with our staff last week about career management.

Think about it – once you get the job, and if you’re happy in the organization, what should you do to grow and develop your career from within? Much of what Jason talked about centered on three things:

  • Personal branding
  • Growing your network
  • Nurturing relationships

It was a great topic, and we had a great turnout of staff. It was cool to even see a staff member tweet out some of Jason’s tidbits after the seminar with some personal action items for herself and managing her career. The topic got me thinking though. As an employer, what happens when one’s personal brand becomes too big? And is it possible for an employee to become too visible and over-exposed?

Let’s take me as an example. Little ‘ole me. I’m nine years into my HR career. I started blogging here for fun. And somehow, during the course of my blogging, a personal brand was born. I never planned on it, but it happened. The brand bled over onto Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Facebook. And as a result? I’ve been published and cited in PR industry mags to recruiting and HR focused media outlets to… holy cow, even Glamour magazine. Then I get called one of HR’s top 100 influencers this year by John Sumser and recruitingblogs.com. Add in that this year alone includes more than a dozen local and national speaking opportunities. (And folks, I still have the day job. That hasn’t gone away.)

Personally, I worry that I’m on the verge of over-exposure and before you know it, I’m going to become the Paris Hilton of HR at some point… just a pretty face to parade around. Ugh. It’s manageable for now though. My personal brand is tied pretty clearly to my employer, APCO Worldwide, and this blog… I hope, I think. But at what point could my brand get in the way and detract from my employer and my work? And at what point does it become dangerous for me to have this much exposure? Doesn’t this allow for someone to easily poach me?

It’s something for HR folks to think about and explore within their organizations – and it’s probably not considered enough from a retention perspective. Personal branding for career management and career development is smart. But where do you draw the line? Protect and micro-manage, shaping the message of your employees as they develop their personal brand too much, and personal brands won’t flourish as they come off as being too corporate, controlled, and possibly lacking personality. Allow employees to run free completely with their personal branding efforts and then you run the risk of having a renegade on your hands who becomes a personality in and of themselves, independent of the employer. The sweet spot has got to be somewhere in between. I think. I hope. But what do you think?