When I first heard of “personal branding” I have to admit the term turned me off. I was very resistant to the idea that I need to market myself like a product I’m trying to sell. However, as the Practical Librarian points out, just because you do not put the effort into creating your personal brand does not mean you don’t end up with one. The problem in that case is that you are letting yourself be defined by what people may find on the web instead of taking action to present an identity that reflects you the way you want to be seen. I realized it isn’t necessary about packaging yourself as a product, but about managing your identity and professional reputation.
In reading through Jo Alcock’s post on the subject on the CPD23 blog and her suggestions for further reading, I realized that my personal brand could use some work. Like many people, I’ve had an online life for quite some time. As I waded into various arenas of online activity I haphazardly set up various identities for myself, based on factors like how comfortable I was with using my real name and how much time I wanted to spend being creative. For this reason, I have a consistency problem. I am agrundmann on most services that I have started using within the past 3 years, but I have a different username for WordPress, and my name does not appear directly on my blog (although it does appear on my twitter feed, which is linked). When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be professional or personal, so I wasn’t sure I wanted it to show up in a Google search for my name. Over time, like so many others, I have settled on a “profersonal” character for this blog. I originally planned twitter to be my professional social networking tool and Facebook to be for personal contacts, but these have been steadily converging on the profersonal as well.
I also could use some work in visual consistency. Somehow I have managed to accidentally choose a similar color scheme for most things (brown), but in terms of fonts, imagery, and overall visual tone, they are all over the place. I would love to have some kind of logo or visual cue that is common between all my online identities, but I will need to do some thinking about what that will be.
One of the activities for this unit is to Google yourself and see what comes up. I tried this and found that the first page of results are all about me. My last name is not terribly common, so this wasn’t a surprise. Most of the results are social media-related, which I’m not sure is a good thing. I’m not all that active on twitter, but I think a lot of sites have popped up recently that pull in data from twitter to show stats for users (to rank them in various ways), so it’s skewing the perception of me as a twitter-addict. It is nice that the first hit is LinkedIn, though. The last time I Googled myself it wasn’t quite so twitter-centric, and I’d prefer if other things were at the top of the list. I think creating a more cohesive online identity and connecting my name with my blog should help with this.
Reading more about personal branding and really taking a look at my online identity and what it might say about me has been an interesting exercise. I am more motivated now to be proactive about managing my online brand. It seems more achievable now that the different pieces that make up your personal brand have been broken down, and I don’t need to come up with a complicated marketing plan to start thinking about my brand.