Personal Brand: Before

While there’s no way to actually develop a personal brand in one week, there’s no time like the present to start considering it.

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.  – Mark Twain

I came across this quotation recently, and I think it represents most of the best advice I’ve read on personal branding so far. My goal for stepping up my online involvement is to establish myself among the community of librarians and information professionals, and the only way to build authentic relationships is to is to represent myself honestly. My experience with Things 1 & 2 tells me this strategy is already working. By revealing my concerns about beginning this process, I was able to make connections with a supportive group of peers.

According to Google…

I didn’t find anything too shocking in the results of my ego search, although I am always surprised to find out how many other Nicole Brocks there are in the world. On the first page of results, only one of the results legitimately points to me – my Twitter profile. The Facebook and LinkedIn results were not my profiles, but a more detailed search on either of those sites would turn it up. Otherwise, I can definitively say that I do not play softball, I no longer possess a MySpace account, I did not get into a car accident in a parking lot, and I did not play “Bad Girl #6” in a film called Four Reasons. Also, only one of the six photos turned up on the first page of results is actually me.

Digging further into the results and adding “Indiana” to the search does pull up my staff bio on my employer’s website, as well as a link to my undergraduate alma mater and a comment I recently made on a Hack Library School post.

I am slightly creeped out by sites like Spokeo and PeekYou that can point people toward your home address and phone number. I noticed you can request to have your profile(s) removed, so I’m pondering it.

Basically, Google doesn’t think I have much of a personal brand. While my search didn’t pull up anything embarrassing, it also didn’t retrieve anything too impressive. I should probably attempt to change that.

Here’s a review of my current branding efforts, for what they’re worth:

I already…

  1. Use a consistent username across networks, whenever possible. I’m basically nmbrock everywhere. It’s a vestige of my college e-mail address, and a professional (albeit slightly boring) representation of my name. At this point, I feel like I would have to come up with a pretty fantastic alternative in order to change it. By the way, Googling this username does pretty much turn up results that link to my profiles across the web.
  2. Use my real name. I don’t think I have a profile that doesn’t use my full name – except, to be totally honest and a little off-topic, as it relates to online dating. Sorry dudes, you’ll find that out when I’m good and ready.
  3. Think of my profiles as “profersonal. I know people who have tried to separate their personal and professional Facebook and Twitter profiles, with mixed success. Personally, I don’t have the time or energy to live separate online lives. My Facebook profile tends to be more personal, while LinkedIn is designed for business. Although my Twitter habits are largely linked to professional interests, I’m starting to build personal connections.

I plan to…

  1. Find a decent, consistent avatar photo. The one I’m using on WordPress was taken to put with my bio on my organization’s website. While it’s certainly professional, it feels a little stuffy for true “profersonal” communication. My Twitter pic has been there since I opened the account in 2009. I’d like to step out from behind the sunglasses, but need a solid replacement photo. I’m not sold on my LinkedIn in photo, and am not too concerned about Facebook because I feel like it’s more acceptable to rotate profile pics in that setting.
  2. Consider my visual identity. I tested out several of the themes available in WordPress, but few of them really felt like “me.” I’m not so sure this one does, either, but at least it doesn’t hurt my eyes like some of the others. I am happy with its simplicity. Now, I just have to decide if I like it enough to carry it over into my other online profiles.  I have a feeling that if I continue blogging past the conclusion of cpd23 in October, I will start to investigate more advanced hosting and design options. I’m confident in my technical ability to pull it off, but can’t currently justify the investment of time or money.
  3. Develop ninja-like online awareness, a la Lifehacker.
  4. Figure out how to express my professional interests/skills/achievements, and be sure what I can offer is evident in my online profiles.

I wonder…

  1. What you think of “Odd Librarian Out.” Judging by the comments and referrals from other Thing 2 posts, it seems many people were drawn to the title. I had been hoping for something clever enough to draw people in from the listing, and I guess it worked!  For that, I’m grateful to have enjoyed getting to know several other participants.  But I have to admit I was, and still am, torn about the choice. While it does accurately depict how I feel these days, I fear it might be a bit off-putting. Could using words like “odd” and “out” set me further apart from my colleagues? What happens when I finally figure out where I fit? Is this a brand with staying power?
  2. What my personal brand will look like in October. I have a feeling the rest of the next twenty things will contribute greatly to the development of my brand. I hope to revisit this in an “After” post at the conclusion of cpd23.

I most definitely welcome feedback, particularly about your feelings toward the “Odd Librarian Out” persona.

14 Comments on “Personal Brand: Before”

  1. Angela says:

    This project is definitely easier for those of us with uncommon names! For my profile pic, I didn’t have anything that looked good, so I had my hubby take a new photo on a day when my hair actually decided to cooperate! It’s not especially artistic, but it worked out well for me at ALA — people actually recognized me, so it was easier to connect.

    As for the appearance in WordPress, have you found the option to upload an image for a header? I don’t know if it’s an option for all of the themes on the free accounts, but it’s there for some of them. So that’s a way to personalize the appearance, even in the free accounts that limit the amount of customization you can do. Of course, it looks good as is — I like the nice blue background and the colors, but I thought I’d mention it because it took me a while to notice the header options!

    As for the title, I like it. And once I’m reading a blog, I don’t tend to pay much attention to the blog title. Over-analyzing it in terms of initial impressions, I can see the arguments against it… But it’s definitely more creative than just using your name as the title (as I did)!

  2. Miss Scarlet says:

    I think ‘Odd Librarian Out’ is a great title and not at all off-putting. In my library technician program just about everyone has had experience as the odd one out, except maybe the one girl who was in a sorority in university, but then she’s sort of the odd one out with the rest of us geeks. I think it’s one of the reasons I decided to become a library tech — that feeling of being the odd one out that books helped me escape from. The very act of reading is inclusive. In any case, long story short: I think most of us identify.

  3. Ahava Cohen says:

    I like your blog name. I know it drew me here when I saw it on the cpd23 list.

    One thing that always draws my eye when I come to your blog (in a good way) are your connect buttons. I just love the rough sketch look!

  4. Erin says:

    Another vote for keeping the title of your blog. It definitely drew me in.
    As for the simplicity of the page, I don’t think that’s a bad thing and gives the impression of someone who likes to keep things minimalist and decluttered so that the focus is on essentials. Or am I projecting?

  5. Shannon says:

    With my super-unique name I’ve begun to be more explicit in its use professionally though personally I have a lot of old usernames I still use on various sites – some of this is beginning to shift. I was on online dating and one time I was using an instant messenger to chat to someone. He knew my first name, roughly where I lived, and my profession. He put three words into Google and found my full name, my work address, and my contact details there. It was super freaky that he did that so fast. From then on I just used my initial when I signed emails to would-be suitors!

    And I do like the title ‘Odd Librarian Out’. I like simpler pages. I think it starts to get too distracting and people start ignoring content if there’s too much.

  6. Deanne Boyer says:

    I really like the title “Odd Librarian Out”. It made me curious about what you have to say and drew me into your blog. I love the quote by Mark Twain and think you make a great point about honesty. I think it can be easy to feel free in the “anonymous” Internet to do whatever you want, but nothing is ever really anonymous is it? Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole Brock says:

      Thanks, Deanne! I like your adaptation of the Bueno theme. I almost went with that one but the default polka-dot background kind of gave me a headache. I escaped to a simpler theme without really contemplating my customization options!

  7. I like the theme that you’ve chosen for the blog – the minimalism and colours have impact. Even if you want to change the design, I think this colour scheme is really nice with those shades of blue and red.

  8. booksNyarn says:

    I am in agreement you should keep the blog name! I have been slowly switching most of my prominent web avatars to my real picture, although my alias stands (with my real name attached to it). I also agree with you that Facebook, while I have some common “friends” there and on LinkedIn and Twitter, is a bit more personal and the profile picture doesn’t have to match. I like the clean layout you have right now too.

  9. Nicole Brock says:

    Wow – thank you all for your thoughtful comments! I’m glad to hear I’m on the right track so far.

    I do like the minimalism, and I’ll probably keep it this way for awhile. The red was the standard font color with the theme, and I use an online color picker to help find a coordinating background color that would soften up the whiteness a little. Red, white and blue isn’t really a color scheme I’d typically choose, but for some reason it does seem to work in this instance.

    I found the icons at There are lots of fun options!

    I will likely keep the Odd Librarian Out name on this blog, but I think I’ll wait and see if I can keep up the commitment before I go changing my other profiles or usernames to match.

  10. KatyStoddard says:

    I’m late to the party as always but I love your blog name too! I think it’s distinctive, and memorable, and it can be read several ways. Like Miss Scarlet says, lots of us can identify! And with the industry going the way it is at the moment, it’s quite fitting. I definitely feel like the odd one out at work at the moment!

  11. Melanie says:

    I sympathize with your concern over possible negative connotations in your blog title, but I think the honest sentiment behind it is totally working for your professional community of library folks. My instincts are to over-analyze and be overly cautious with electronic communications in general, but I’m seeing in this cpd23 assignment that sincerity and genuine personality can be very compelling – I mean really, who wants to interact with a super-sterilized persona online, anyway (unless it is a business transaction)? And thanks for sharing that Lifehacker link to ego awareness alerts – I have something minimal like that set up via Google Alerts, but didn’t realize how sophisticated I could get if I wanted to. Actually, I’m considering how I can employ the strategy for other online current awareness efforts at work. :)

  12. Nicole Brock says:

    I’m really glad Odd Librarian Out has struck a chord. Figuring out what to call a new blog can be a major stumbling block. It’s nice to be on the other side of that for once, because I get to interact with all of you! I just have to figure out what I want to do with it beyond cpd23.

  13. […] for PowerPoint presentations when I was in library school, and I’ve even used it to spruce up a blog post. I wouldn’t say I’m a Skitch expert, but it has come in handy for me. My main complaint […]

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