ATD Blog

What Every Learning Professional Should Know About Personal Branding

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Personal branding can be confusing. You may think personal branding isn’t useful and adds no value to your career. You work hard and it should be recognized . . . but that’s not always the case. Many professionals have harnessed the power of personal branding for career advancement while making the world a better place.

Personal Branding Is Intentional

Personal branding is about intentionally using the impact you have. When you know the type of image you’d like to project, this knowledge will help you guide your career decisions. Instead of taking on every project that comes your way, you’ll stop to examine which projects are in line with who you are and what you’d like to offer. Personal branding helps you simplify decision making. And if you’re in a role where you have to take on every project that comes your way, you can play to your strengths and identify key people in your company who can help you with other elements of the project.

People want to work with those they know, like, and trust. You start building your know, like, and trust factors when you connect with cohorts, colleagues, and customers on a rational and emotional level. That means personal branding is, well, personal.

Personal Branding Connects You With Your Target Audience


You must be willing to share part of your personal life to allow your ideal target audience (those who need to know about you) to relate to you, your thought leadership, and your subject matter.

For example, if you appreciate music, you may be able to relate that interest to your target audience’s goals, specialty, background, or experience. I share that I love live music, especially concerts; and, according to a study by Stanford University, music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions, and updating the event in memory. See what I did there? I tied music to its importance in learning and development. By relating your interests to your audience, you forge a stronger bond.

Keep Personal Branding Positive


Personal branding is about sharing but most of what you’re sharing should be positive. Negativity makes it harder for people to work with you. That’s why you want to stay upbeat with what you do share.

Personal Brands Evolve

As you advance your career and learn new strategies, your personal brand will evolve and grow. As you learn more about your audience and what they want, you should re-examine your personal brand to ensure it’s still serving you and your career goals.

Discover and unleash the power of your personal brand for career success on your terms with my upcoming LearnNow: Leverage Your Personal Brand to Propel Your Career. Learn more and register.

About the Author

Wendy Terwelp, CEO of Opportunity Knocks of Wisconsin LLC, is an award-winning career expert and personal branding strategist, dubbed a “LinkedIn Guru” by the Washington Post. Her career advice is quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Business Journal, Fast Company, CTDO,, NBC, FOX, ABC, and other media. Her work was featured in Inc. magazine’s Top 10 Career Helps and ATD’s Best on Career Development, and she was named among the Top 15 Career Masterminds, along with Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? Wendy is uniquely positioned to discuss personal branding and storytelling from a career perspective as she marries her background as a news reporter with experience as a recruiter and career coach. Her private coaching clients regularly use the power of their personal brands and stories to win raises, promotions, and gigs, and attendees of her speaking engagements also up-level their careers. Pioneer of the Rock Your Network system and a sought-after speaker, Wendy’s clients include the ATD International Conference & Exposition, Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) Annual Conference and Trade Show, SEAK’s Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians Conference, GE Healthcare, Roche, FedEx/Genco, American Cancer Society, UWM Women Leaders Conference, Brigham Young University, among others. Follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @WendyTerwelp.

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Amen to that. Figure out who is the right fit for your organization with peopleHum!
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