Who am I online?
Everyone likes to 'Google' their own name or 'the sound of each man's name is sweet to his own ear'. Maybe its because I'm vain or because I have quite a distinctive name, but I'm not a stranger to searching for my own name. My search today came up with a whole range of links - mainly to professional, work related activities I have put my name to. For instance, there is a link to my LinkedIn profile, a reference to my committee role in the Network of Government Library and Information Professionals (NGLIS), a few references to work I've done in connection to my day job, a link to a case study profile on the Info Professional website.
In relation to more personal activities, the search also brought up pages including links to my online bookshelf on Visual Bookshelf.
If I do a search in my maiden name, one of my first attempts at a personal website is still live from the early 1990s. Scary! It just shows how long information can remain in cyberspace.
Overall, I don't think that there is too much out on-line that is embarrassing and most of the content I think demonstrates an involved and professional attitude.
I now have a number of online presences including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, this blog and another personal blog for my local book club. I use each of these online forums for either personal (Facebook) or work reasons (Twitter/Linkedin).
Cat's Eye Inc?
I'm wary of the whole concept of 'personal branding'. If it is a concept that is similar to building up a good reputation at work/personally then fine, but I'm inclined to think the whole idea can build up into too much style over substance. For instance other bloggers have mused over the question 'Is Personal Branding a load of BS?' or 'Can Branding Apply to an Individual?'
Where do introverts fit in a world where self-promotion rules?
My scepticism about personal branding comes from a number of reasons - most specifically that I am my own worst enemy and can put myself down constantly (which others are bound to relate to). Maybe it is helpful to learn how to break free from your self-sabotage barriers!
In trying to come to terms with the idea of 'personal branding' and how to be comfortable 'branding ME INC' without losing my essential essence, I came across a helpful post about the '85% rule' on Ryan Rancatore's blog - Personal Branding 101. Ryan points that personal branding is not just about broadcasting all the time - as a rough rule we should spend only 15% of our time in 'public facing' activities such social networking and 85% doing so-called 'behind the scenes' work such as one to one communication, background reading or continuing education. This helps to make personal branding a more manageable idea for me.
I think it'a also important that being less extrovert and self-confident should not hold someone back in a 'shy zone'. We might need more coaching and advice to gain more confidence over time - but we have the human ability to adapt, change and learn over time. 'Personal branding', I realise is all about confidence. As author Marti Olsen Laney who has written a book on the "The Introvert Advantage: How To Work In An Extrovert World" argues introverts have many special qualities and being aware of these can help us promote ourselves better and feel more confident that not everyone is born to be on TV on 'The Apprentice'!
'Personal Branding' - is it for everyone?
There are obviously lots of examples of famous actors, musicians, writers, sports personalities and people in the public eye who have a 'brand' because they are able to capitalise on a definable skill, have access to publicity, have a team to support them, money and a drive to succeed. Depending on your role, 'personal branding' is also essential for freelancers and entrepreneurs. There are also equally many other famous personalities who take a quieter, more considered approach.
But what does that mean for the rest of us in the corporate 9 to 5 medium or junior positions of a large anonymous organisation - can 'personal branding' work for us too? Well...yes, since we need to sell ourselves just as much as other people to try and prove ourselves capable in our next job move, in the face of increasing competition. The very first thing that you will be judged on in any interview is how you come across - do you have a coherent message and image - and at the core of this being 'authentic' to the core of you are - which is at the heart, I think of the idea of 'personal branding'.
I won't be able to resolve all my feelings about feeling confident about my own brand here, but this is definitely an area to explore more.
In the meantime, I'd be interested to know the thoughts of others - Does anyone else struggle with self-promotion and are there any other helpful tips about how to come to terms with 'personal branding' in ways that can work best for us?