This post is for you, person who wakes up in the morning and says, “Gosh, how am I going to build my personal brand today?”

Let’s face it; “personal branding” is, by far, the single most over-used business-related concept talked about today. Yes, personal branding is important. And yes, it’s been talked about for years. Ever since the 1997 Tom Peters article in Fast Company magazine titled, “The Brand Called You,” the personal brand conversation has been prevalent.

But, we probably wouldn’t be talking about personal branding as much if it weren’t for the rise of social networks and blogging. We live in an online world dominated by content and community. And whether we like it or not, social networks and websites have made personal branding a 24/7 experience for many of us. And, many argue today that crafting a personal brand and mastery of these networks and the web are essential for business success. Essential, maybe – depending on your industry. But without question, we spend far too much time on the subject.

This personal-branding movement and a lot of the fluff that goes with it – the illusion of the guru-ninja, inauthentic leadership, and people who spend more time marketing their skills than improving them, has taken a terrible toll on companies and individuals.

People are skipping true professional development in favor of crafting a personal brand. The result: less capable people who endlessly self-promote and far too much noise with too little value.

Everyone wants to shine and everyone has the equal ability to do so today. That’s a good thing. The problem is what we highlight. Heck, just the other day I saw a product called “How To Be Famous On Facebook.” Are you kidding me??!!

The trend away from real work toward how much people can fool others into thinking they are the greatest thing since sliced bread is a costly distraction for companies and for you. Instead of asking yourself how you can compose an authentic and engaging status update that further defines your “brand,” consider the following:

  • Conduct a self-assessment: Personal branding is more self-awareness and less self-promotion. Take the time to discover your unique ability. What is your “A” game? Understand your strengths so that you can focus on doing what you are good at. And focus less on what you do well and more on what you do REMARKABLY.
  • Conduct a 360-assessment: To truly develop a personal brand, get the actual story about how you are perceived by those around you. The real value is LISTENING to what others think about you – not trying to convince them what they should think about you.
  • Do more, talk less: Stop shouting from the rooftops about how great you are and find more ways to DO something that adds more experience and accomplishments to your resume. Yes, actions do speak louder than tweets.
  • Show, don’t tell: When given the opportunity to present yourself, don’t just tell who you are, show what you’ve done for others and the world will discern who you are.

Ultimately, the strongest personal brands, whether they are Richard Branson, Liz Strauss, or Carol Roth, are built through actions, not promises. And certainly, they are not through websites and status updates.

Maybe spend a little less time crafting your “personal brand” and invest a little more time developing you. Because, in the end, the purpose of your personal brand is not just to get people to know who you are. The purpose is to impact the world.

So, what do you think? Are you building your brand, building your skills or doing both? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.