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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

CPD23 - Thing 3 - Consider your personal brand

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?


Monday, 27 June 2011

Feedback on the UK's Freedom of Information landscape now - a Government Information Group (GIG) event

On Wednesday 22 June, CILIP's Government Information Group held their 2011 AGM and a small select group of attendees were honoured to hear the thoughts of Maurice Frankel, Director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

Maurice gave his take on the current state of FOI in the UK. In a nutshell he wavers between being quietly impressed at the operation of the UK FOI Act (on the one hand) and on the other being highly concerned and paranoid.

He highlighted some example cases which show causes for concern and issues to be aware of as FOI evolves, including the risks posed by greater focus on localism and creation new reporting authorities.

It was refreshing to know that Maurice has a constructive relationship with government officials, even to the extent of once presenting the main thrust of thinking of a government official in their absence at a regional training event. (At least that's better than one French official who was not aware that the French government even had an FOI act!)

And I also came across a conspiracy theory of the week - did Tony Blair hold up the adoption of the FOI Act because of his dealings with Bernie Eccelstone? (as implied in his published autobiography - A Journey). Let me know what you think.

Friday, 24 June 2011

CPD23 - Thing 2 - Investigate some other blogs

Well, I've gone out of my comfort zone and actually commented on some blogs. Its like putting your head above the parapet and feeling exposed.
I looked at a number of other blogs and found a surprising amount of consensus about reasons for involvement. Quite a few of my fellow CPD23ites have only dipped a small toe in the blogging pool and are tentatively finding their way around. (= snap that's exactly how I feel).

I've learnt that by the simple act of commenting you:
  • Give to others 
  • Generate new ideas
  • Get practice in writing 
When I first started my blog, I tried to hide it under a bushel - but this goes against its whole ethos. Blogging is all about conversation and relationships. And now I'm inspired to put my blog forward to be listed as a Cilip Blogger. Hopefully this will spark new contacts and opportunities further down the line. 

Still though a number of questions remain floating around in my head - such as:
  • Do you get more hits by making critical comments?
  • Should you be the first to comment?
  • How much time and effort should you spend in commenting?
  • Who really has the motivation to comment - is it always the same people?
If you have the answers to any or all of these questions please let me know. 
However, what I secretly enjoyed, just as much as commenting was marvelling at the creativeness and attractiveness of the bloggers taking part in the CPD23 programme - who can but marvel at blogs with titles such as 'Aude Sapere', 'Simple Things to Make Do and Mend', 'Digressions of a Sponge for Knowledge' or 'Diarrhoea of a Madwoman' - brilliant!


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Back to Blogging

I've not been very successful at blogging...as you can probably see from my previous attempts to get started....so when I came across the CPD23 Things for Professional Development programme, I thought it was a great idea and signed up immediately. Hopefully this will inspire me further and encourage me to kickstart my career planning for the future.

CPD23 is an online self-directed learning programme which has been set up by some interprising librarians and information professionals. It is based on a similar programme in the US and at Cambridge University in the UK.

The programme begins with Thing One - Blogging (more of which in a moment...)

About Me
I am currently an Information Manager working for central government working embedded in an operational delivery team. I love my job but sometimes feel quite isolated from some trends. Its not due to lack of innovation or creativity but perhaps because of working in a slower paced job area.

How do I feel about blogging?
I've previously touched on why I started blogging when I first began this blog back in 2008 - see What is all the fuss about blogging?

Given my previous attempts (and failures) at blogging I'd say that I have reservations about the process of blogging. To clarify my current thoughts I've listed some pros and cons of blogging:
PROS
  • Keeping informed - current awareness
  • Cheap self-publishing to the masses
  • Publishing information that some "traditional" publishers might want to steer clear of due to controversy
  • Human creativity and expression
  • Allows greater conversation
  • Creating linkages

CONS

  • Information in date order - has a sell by date
  • An issue of vanity publishing in some cases
  • Issue of reliability and trust - do we really know who is speaking? Eg case of the blogger who claimed to be Israeli lesbian
  • Streams of random consciousness with little value?
  • A mirrorworld where reality doesn't actually happen
Overall, for me the best blogs are those that have a clear purpose. I am not a fan of random thoughts spouted online for all and sundry to read. That's the role of a diary and should be private.

Maybe the biggest reason that I have so far struggled with blogging is that I don't have an app phone with quick access to either Twitter or RSS feeds which fuel the blogging phenonomen. I also don't want to be spending my time constantly online sharing my thoughts.
I don't think I am alone in my scepticism of blogging. Yes - it is indeed a powerful medium (witnesss the 'Arab Spring' which was fueled by younger people wanting to have a greater say in their societies and communicating more freely online) - but ultimately it is only one communication medium among many.
Some internet commentators, researchers and other bloggers have discussed that the blogging craze will die out, as people and companies tire of bearing their thoughts for all and sundry. For instance, the New York Times recently reported on the phenonomen of blogging waning as younger people drift to sites like Twitter. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/technology/internet/21blog.html?_r=1.
I don't want to make massive predictions about bloggings demise or survival here since predictions are doomed to failure. What is clear is that as blogging technology, methods, techniques, users and reasons for blogging evolve and as society and events happen worldwide - then the blogging landscape will adapt naturally in a multitude of different ways.
Grateful to know if other people share my views and blogging.....and good luck to everyone participating in CPD23 Things. Signing out....Red

PS. If you like reading check out my other blog - http://pondersend-bookclub.blogspot.com