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.