Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Thing 3 - consider your personal brand

Thing 3 is all about building your personal brand, a hot topic in library circles at the moment.

Like a number of people who took part in CPD23 last year, I was initially quite reluctant to engage with the idea of creating a personal brand. I had the perception that it was a bit cynical, and wasn’t too keen on the idea of ‘selling’ myself. I wonder if it is the terminology that is off putting, it’s difficult to get past the impression the word ‘brand’ tends to conjure up. Perhaps referring to it more as building or directing your reputation would be easier to engage with?

I think the most important thing I’ve learnt since then is that there are many different ways to develop a brand, many approaches will seem not appropriate or relevant, but it’s actually quite easy to find one that sits more comfortably with you. At the recent CILIP New Professionals Day Ned Potter discussed the 5 ways you could influence your brand. The thing that stood out for me most from his talk was that creating a brand should not be your end goal; it should be more a happy result of pursuing the interests that are important to you.

I think this method allows you to create a brand in a more organic, natural way, rather than as something you’ve ‘constructed’. It also allows for flexibility, as you pursue your interests and ambitions it’s likely that they will change and develop. Hopefully that means that your ‘brand’ will also develop, rather than feeling like a rigid thing you have to stick to.

So with this in mind I had a look at some of the ways in which I manage my ‘brand’, and to be honest I don't do much and it hardly takes up any time.
  • I use the same profile picture for all my online accounts, it's a photo of me, which helps when meeting people face-to-face.
  • I try and keep the design of my blog and Twitter account relatively consistent, I use the same background image for example. Although I regret not using matching names for them when I first set them up.
  • My full name does appear somewhere on my online accounts, and a small bio. While I don't want all my personal details 'out there', I'm also not comfortable with the idea of being totally anonymous either, I think people will connect with you better if they know something about you.
  • I'm not keen on the idea of merging my professional and private lives, so Twitter, LinkedIn and my blog are for work-related stuff, Facebook is for social.
Out of interest I also decided to Google myself, I did this last year, and was not particularly surprised to discover I didn’t rank very highly in the search results. Well, what a difference a year makes!

My Twitter account (@KrisWJ) is second in the listings, and I suspect I am one of those 15 professionals listed in LinkedIn. I haven’t done much with my LinkedIn account, perhaps if I did I could get it working a little harder for me!

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