More and more people today are convinced that in order to differentiate themselves in a crowded professional marketplace, they must apply the same principles we have known and used for many ages towards reaching the same exact goals in the product space: branding.

The idea behind branding can be boiled down, very simply, as the promise of a specific experience before an engagement.

Yet people still have many hesitations when it comes to branding people. They think the idea is cold, sterile, a dead concept applied to living beings.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whether you want to or you don’t, you are already putting forth a brand for yourself. More than likely, people have already formulated an expectation of your values, your abilities, your skills, etc., through the things you say… and even through the things you don’t say.

For example, if I ever post about a very negative subject on social media, I undoubtedly will receive comments — usually private—telling me that that was out of character, that something must be wrong, that “that’s not you.”

Why? Because for many, many years, I’ve consistently stood for being positive in the face of difficult circumstances, fighting the good battle instead of complaining, and other stances I unwaveringly believe in.

Yet even in the face of this truth, most people don’t stop to think about what profile they’re projecting. Some feel it’s an egotistical act to think of oneself this way, while others feel that it’s just a waste of time.

However, the undeniable fact is that every single day we wade in the midst of a network of social connections, and what we say and do will absolutely have an impact on other human beings.

Therefore, when we don’t take a serious look at our personal brand, rather than being an egotistical act, it’s the actual opposite—as surprising as that may seem for many reading this.

It is actually very self-centered to refuse to pause and think about the impact our actions, words, and values have on others. On the other hand, to clear the airs and figure out how we fit among a complex web of social connections can become an act of empathy and compassion, provided we do so with the right intentions.

If you have never stopped to work on your personal brand, especially if you aspire to become a successful professional, I would sincerely recommend you do so.

In our day and age, capacity and merit are not enough to help you move forward, because guess what? School is over, and nobody is handing out report cards any more.

Nobody is keeping score on how well everyone is doing, and then giving the stand to the high performers. You sink or swim by how much your brand is able to cut through the massive clutter, where everyone at the surface just seems replaceable.

Your profile will rise to the extent that you can manage to be authentic, visible, consistent, and relevant to your industry and your professional goals.