How do you do personal branding for two sides of your life? What if you have two jobs in two wholly separate worlds? And what if each of those jobs could negatively affect the other — like being a hit man and a politician.

I received an email from David — who is not a hit man — but is a religious professional and a businessman, and he wants to brand two versions of the same man.

(1) I am a [religious professional] who promotes and provides adult religious education. (2) I am a successful entrepreneur having retired at age 42, which is when I went back to school to become a [religious professional]. Now I’m 52, doing the [religious professional] stuff and starting a new business at the same time. (3) I am just lil’ ole me, a friendly guy with friends, contacts and relatives all over the place. How do I separate them? I need a LinkedIn page for [my day job] who teaches and would like to start doing a series of online [religion] ed videos and blogging about free or low cost quality religious educational opportunities, but I also need a LinkedIn business page — and neither one has anything to do with the other and could even, potentially, negatively impact the other. Same thing with Facebook and Twitter, but there I may need a third identity for my personal stuff. How do I set this up and enable people to find the me they need or want?

David says he already has LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter identities tied to a previous business website and blog, which no longer exists, but the accounts are just sitting there.

Two separate personal brands

Here is what I would do if I were in a similar situation, trying to develop two separate personal brands.

1. Rescue the Existing Accounts

First, salvage the existing accounts and save them for the business side of life. Clean out and update the bios, put up new avatars, and dust off the connection lists. These are already established as business accounts, so the connections who are already there will understand that my business life changed, and that I’m doing something new.

2. Tie the Personal Account to the “Religious Professional Stuff.”

Good idea or not, we tend to identify ourselves as our job. That’s how other people see us too. So go with that. Tie the personal account to the day job identity. After all, being a religious professional is a 24/7 job. When I go home, I’m not a blogger. I get to fill the roles of neighbor and friend, as well as family man. When I’m talking to my neighbors, they’re not chanting over and over in their head, “he’s a blogger, he’s a blogger, he’s a blogger.”

But they do for rabbis, ministers, pastors, priests, and even shamans. While I know most religious professionals don’t want to be defined only by their jobs, don’t bother fighting it. You definitely don’t want a third identity just for personal stuff (i.e. not your day job, and not your sideline). It’s going to be hard enough to keep these two balanced..

Of course, if you don’t want to do the day job thing on social media and want to keep it personal, just don’t list your profession. Be yourself and let people find out by accident when they swear in front of you and then ask what you do for a living.

3. Just Know That People Will Find Out

People are going to find out, for whatever reason, that there is a flip side to my personal coin. They’re work colleagues, or they’re friends who are also business contacts. But they’ll be following one account and one day see the other, and they’ll make the connection.

For that reason, I need to make sure that what I do on one account won’t turn off people on the other account. While this doesn’t apply to David — most religious pros I know won’t put themselves in an embarrassing situation — it does apply to businesspeople who think their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts are completely separate. They’re not, so avoid embarrassing situations

But what David does need to be aware of is that you can’t do things that one side of your life will find to be completely incompatible with the other side, like being a hit man and a politicians.

(All your hit man friends will be all judgmental and go, “Ewwwwww!! Ga-ROSS!”)

It’s possible to keep two sides of your life separate from each other, but don’t expect that they will stay that way forever. The streams will be crossed. Your friends and connections will find you have a second side to your life, and you’ll be seen as a more complete person. Of course, if that’s a problem for you, then do what you can to keep those two sides separate, but make sure you don’t have anything embarrassing or upsetting to people from the other side.


Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, which he wrote with Jason Falls, is in bookstores and on Amazon now.