Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thing 3 : Consider Your Personal Brand

For this activity, we are asked to Google ourselves and reflect on what sort of information came up, if we’d want colleagues to see it, and how to improve our personal brands. Personal branding is basically just a carefully cultivated reputation or persona, and it’s not something I honestly have thought much about. I also don’t think I’d base my opinions about someone on the google results I found about them. Does anyone think that’s an accurate or complete portrayal of a person? Perhaps more so now than in the past.

Successful branding requires compartmentalizing different parts of one’s personality and for me that is needlessly complicated. For instance, I know some people who have “Sally Smith, librarian” Facebook profiles in addition to their personal profiles. But I can’t easily separate the professional and nonprofessional aspects of myself. If I read a fantastic book I could post it on my profesional profile, but I’d want to share it personally with friends as well – would I end up posting it twice? And would I need to decide which “friends” are professional and which are personal? What about my librarian friend who I met at a knitting group but have never worked with - would I friend her with my personal profile or my librarian one?

For now I’m just not going to start creating multiple profiles, nor will I create separate blogs for professional versus personal topics. I’d need to be sure I had the time and energy to create enough fodder for each blog and that’s a lot of work! Perhaps it’s worth it for an independent businessperson trying to create a reputation, but I don’t know what the benefits would be for a public librarian. This doesn’t mean I’m not mindful of what I write on my blog and consider how potential employers would see it. But I’m not consciously trying to create a brand for myself, not at this point.

Although I understand the importance of branding for companies, the connotations of branding people are a bit unsettling. I don’t want to have a brand. I want to be genuine, with faults and quirks and layers of complexity, not a carefully cultivated commodity.

Then again, we do it all the time. Reading this article, How to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, I recognized each step as something I’ve done in all the job interviews I’ve had in the past two years. We frequently try to highlight certain aspects of ourselves and explain career changes, not only in interviews, but at professional conferences, committee meetings, networking events, and every day at work. The difference is that the internet, and social networking especially, is forcing the personal and professional aspects of our lives together in new ways.

Do you try to separate the personal and professional aspects of your life? How successful has it been?

If you intentionally brand yourself, do you then become self-conscious about fitting into your own brand?

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