“Branding Yourself” – A review of Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy’s book on rebranding yourself online

While I was looking over some of the books I needed to choose for my online social media class taught by @BenRisinger, one book in particular really stood out to me. Having just left the Army after 12 years of service and beginning grad school at @IUPUI, I knew it was time for me to personally rebrand myself. So after some thought, I quickly looked over “Branding Yourself” by Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy, and immediately knew this book was written for me.

The book starts off with Decker’s own story working at the Indiana State Department of Health. He talks about how public sector employees have the limited ability to work with the private sector, as doing so is deeply frowned upon by government bosses. This is similar to what I experienced working for the federal government.


After welcoming the reader to the “social media party”, the book introduces readers to the ideas of self promotion, personal branding, and the art telling your story. Throughout, Deckers and Lacy break down each different idea and explain what they are (and are not). The way they defined personal branding really struck home with me. Basically, personal branding is an emotional response to an image or name of a product or person. Additionally, the idea of using all of these tactics along with “telling your personal story” will help build relationships which will then potentially lead to opportunities like interviews and jobs.

Personally, I was always taught to be humble and not self-promote. Even though you’re an “individual” within the Army organization, you’re still property of the U.S. government, and thus really a part of the U.S. Army brand. Now that I’m done with the service, what I’ve learned from this book, is that I have a story to tell, which will help me continue to build my brand and establish myself in the market(s) that I want to influence.

Me and "Piggy the Pug" working on my book analysis of "Branding Yourself" by Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy.

Me and “Piggy the Pug” working on my book analysis of “Branding Yourself” by Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy.

Prior to reading this book and learning from @BenRisinger, the extent of my social media knowledge and usage revolved around Facebook. But very quickly, “Branding Yourself” reinforced the idea that, if you want to reinvent yourself online, the key to overall success is utilizing various other networks. And what Deckers and Lacy point out is that understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, and using them to your advantage, is what will set you a part from the rest of the pack. Another excellent facet of this book is its ability to clearly articulate what each social networking platform is built to do, and the audience they’re targeted for.

As a combat veteran and public relations professional, I really appreciated a further breakdown of how LinkedIn operates, and how to really leverage the platform to my advantage. When LinkedIn launched, I was deployed to Afghanistan. Once I returned home to the states, I felt I had missed out on the social media boom and wasn’t able to learn the importance of sites like LinkedIn. Thankfully, Decker and Lacy do an excellent job spelling it out for people like me, and they are able to connect to the reader using a “fun to read” writing style.

My Facebook profile.

My Facebook profile.

Throughout many of the next chapters, “Branding Yourself” will highlight other areas in the social media world and offer many other tips and advice on how to establish your brand, tell your story, and create those relationships so that you can become a force across the full-spectrum of social media networks.

Where the book gets really good, in my opinion, is in Chapter 10, when it starts getting into launching your personal brand. Once the planning, development, and implementation of the brand launch is set in motion, Deckers and Lacy discuss how to define the overall success of the campaign with qualitative vs. quantitative means, as well as using various analytics to measure the effectiveness of your Facebook posts, blog, and other social media accounts. And just like the rest of the book, the authors detail different tools to measure and track all of your content and data, and the pros and cons of each. For someone like me, still learning what social media has to offer, these “deep dives” give me great detail on how to analyze content.

My LinkedIn profile.

My LinkedIn profile.

The final chapter in the book discusses using the personal brand you’ve built to land your new dream job. As highlighted previously, building your personal brand is all about building relationships, and using those relationships and networks to create opportunities for interviews and potentially a new job.

Using myself as an example, I knew I was going to leave the Army in the middle of last year. I attempted to network but was unaware of many of the tools this book covered, and nor did I leverage social media like I should have. Instead, I built a resumé and tried to apply using a couple job boards, but was unsuccessful. Looking back, I viewed social media as an entertainment platform instead of a networking tool. If I would have learned the tactics and techniques taught in “Branding Yourself” I probably would have scored a great job in the Indianapolis area.

In conclusion, “Branding Yourself” has been a lifesaver for me. After applying many of the strategies and tactics learned from this book, I’ve already been contacted by a major defense company (revenue in the billions) wanting me for a Director of Public Relations position, and they reached out to me via LinkedIn. If that isn’t a measurable result of using this book, I don’t know what is!

Categories: Book Review

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