A young woman just lost a coveted internship at NASA, and it all started with one little tweet...


However, it's not the profanity in the tweet that cost her the job. It's how she reacted to someone who responded to her tweet that did it. As a result, she learned the hard way how much personal branding plays a role in your life.

People Hear What They See

When a well-known former NASA engineer sent a tweet back suggesting she be careful with her language, she failed to do two things:

1) Research who was sending her the message.

2) Consider the consequences of responding with arrogance.

The famous actress, Doris Day, once said, "People hear what the see."  In the minds of those viewing your social media posts, you're revealing your true self. What people read comes to life in their heads. Without a well-defined personal brand, one simple snarky comment online is all it takes to be seen as a bad person. Or, in this case, someone who doesn't have the professionalism to work for NASA.

Personal Branding Has Been Around For Decades. Only Now, Social Media's Made It A Must-Do

The concept of having a personal brand was presented years ago by Tom Peters in an article for Fast Company magazine. In it, he explained why we needed to see ourselves as businesses-of-one and market ourselves accordingly. However, this was before social media was mainstream. Now, everything you post is open to interpretation and part of your personal brand. Like it or not, you must consider the implications of the all-access pass people have to you online. And, if you think choosing to not engage on social media is the answer, think again. Even intentionally not branding yourself online has ramifications. At Work It Daily we say, "brand or BE branded." Choosing not to take ownership of your personal brand still sends a message. Such as:

I'm not tech-savvy.

My work is not valuable.

I have something to hide.

Moreover, not dealing correctly with people who react and respond to your personal brand via social media (especially, if they don't agree with you), can impact your reputation i.e. for the young woman in this story, it cost her the job.

In Personal Branding, There's A Difference Between Transparency & Being Short-Sighted

For those of you that will argue she was just being her authentic self and that she shouldn't be penalized for her unbridled excitement, I ask you to consider this: there's a difference between being transparent and being short-sighted. Putting ourselves out there with intention and considering how others will respond to us is a choice. The good news is the former NASA engineer sees she made a rookie mistake and is even trying to help her find another job. However, most of us would not be that lucky. To avoid this, consider evaluating how you want to be understood in the world and think about what you could proactively share about yourself online so you can be in control of the conversation surrounding you as a professional.

P.S. - The most important thing to know about personal branding is both quality and quantity play a factor. The more you are willing to reveal about yourself online and the more thought you put into it, the easier it is for people to feel connected to you. Which means, should you have a slip up, they will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. Having a personal branding strategy is something every savvy professional needs today.