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I was at the Exhibitor show, standing at the bar talking to a couple of industry friends about why we come to this event, and what we – and our companies – get out of being here.  The conversation went down the path of this being a great place to bolster your company’s brand – by exhibiting, sponsoring, participating, and networking in the many official and ancillary activities that occur during this week-long industry gathering.

The thought occurred – and was voiced – by one of the guys that this is also a great place to build your personal brand.  That comment sent the conversation down a completely different path.  As owners and senior executives of our companies, we want our team to represent us in the best light, and to build relationships and branding to the benefit of the company.

But at the same time, we are also building our personal brand – building the reputation and persona of the individual.  That personal brand reflects directly on the company.  And the company’s reputation and brand reflects on the individual that represents that company.  What happens when the two are in conflict?

Companies change.  Change can be brought on by growth (or shrinkage), by economic and industry events that impact businesses, by changes in company management.  All of this can have an effect on the internal culture and ultimately on the external brand of the company.  And any of these changes can impact the individual as well.

Small, aggressive, passionate and creative companies may attract and keep different individuals than larger, corporate, process oriented environments.  One is not necessarily better than the other; just different.  And they will most likely attract different types of people.  As companies grow and change and evolve, their people will either do the same, or they will reach a point that they feel the need to seek a different opportunity – either on their own or at the ‘encouragement’ of company leadership.

This is where personal branding comes in.  If the individual has dedicated the time to be a part of the industry, to attend local and national industry events, to be involved in industry associations and organizations, they have the opportunity to develop their personal brand while they are representing the company they work for.  If there comes a point where the individual and company decide to separate, having a strong personal brand in the industry will go a long way toward creating the next opportunity.

Call it a shameless plug if you like, but attending Exhibitor, joining and getting involved in the Exhibit Designers & Producers Association (EDPA) on a local or national level, and seeking out the other local event marketing activities in your community will go a long way to improving not only the brand of the company you work for, but also to creating that strong personal brand for you.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the trade show industry over 30 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive.  He is a partner in a new company: Reveal: Exhibiting a World of Difference.  He can be reached at jobermeyer@revealexhibits.com.

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