Thing 3: Me, me, me

23 May

I was intrigued to get going with ‘Thing 3’ after listening to Ned Potter talk about personal branding at the CILIP New Professionals Day and I agree that it’s pretty much essential now that you should make efforts to affect your ‘brand’ in a positive way.

While the term “personal branding” does send a bit of a shiver down my spine (it makes me think of shouty people in pin-stripe suits…basically a contestant on the Apprentice), I do agree with the thought behind the phrase.

Having an online presence seems to now be par for the course for new professionals and even if you don’t publish anything online yourself, chances are your name will end up floating around in cyber space anyway. While you can’t control everything, I understand that it’s important to try and take charge of what you can.

CC image courtesy of botgirlq on Flickr.

I want the results that come up if someone searches online for my name to represent me in a positive and fairly professional light. Performing a couple of quick Google searches was quite interesting. Most of the results are me in a more professional capacity – my LinkedIn profile, my ‘library’ twitter account, contacts page from work and a blog post I wrote for the ARLIS students & trainees blog. I was confused why this blog didn’t turn up in any of the results. Then I realised I’ve been going by both Jennifer and Jen for the last few years.

A search with ‘Jen’ threw up different results: my ‘personal’ twitter account (which is private) is top and this blog is the 4th entry. It was interesting how some sites, like LinkedIn, still featured quite high on the results even though I only use the full version of my name on it.

It’s something that I never really thought about – even though I’m using my proper name, I’m not being consistent enough which means the ‘me’ that is represented online is pretty dependent on which form of my name people search with.

This is something I should probably really need to sort out but I’m not quite sure how. I prefer ‘Jen’ (and it’s much quicker to type) but when I do anything vaguely official, I call myself ‘Jennifer’. Now, as a budding information professional I should really know more about how search engines work. So I’ve set myself the task of finding out more about them and hopefully this will provide a solution of how to bring all the things that I want to come up in a search for me, to come up no matter which form of my name is used.

In terms of a visual brand, I feel like I’m still coming up with that. I use the same photo for my library twitter and this blog which is pretty casual and not related to libraries (for anyone that’s interested, it’s me at Slope Point, the  southernmost point on the South Island of New Zealand which I’m sure no-one but me has ever bothered to go to). In the future I’d like to have a photo that people can more easily identify from me at events, and I’d also like some kind of exciting and distinctive visual “feel” to this blog. However, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I know these are the kind of things I’ll spend hours agonizing over, so I’m waiting until some amazing ideas hit me.

I feel that there’s a lot of things that I’m working on with my personal brand. It’d be great to get straight out of the blocks and have a fantastic, distinctive online presence and be clear from the start what my “brand” was, but for me I think it’s going to evolve over time. I’m still finding my feet both as a new professional and as a blogger, I’m not going to have some ready-made online presence that shows succinctly who I am and what I’m interested in, I don’t even know myself! I feel that until I know what direction I’m heading in, I can only try my best and hope that the image of myself that I’m putting out there is not too jumbled.

Lots of things to think about from this activity and I hope to have a ‘Thing 3’ update not too far in the future. Please feel free to post a comment – let me know what you think about my “brand” so far or how I can sort out the Jen/Jennifer search situation, or just say hi. I’m not picky.

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5 Responses to “Thing 3: Me, me, me”

  1. The Victorian Librarian May 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    I hadn’t really made the “Apprentice” connection, as it’s programme I like to avoid (not a fan of shouty people, but not entirely decided re: pinstripe suits yet; they’re a mixed bag), but good point. I did whince delicately at the marketing jargon of “personal brand” but, like you, I can see the value and importance of it. Now that I’m thinking about it more, I’m actually quite enjoying the process. I’m trying to focus on both online and offline versions of myself.

    Re: the Jen/Jennifer situation, I share your pain – my name (Kathleen) has a ridiculous number of variations, and I ended up writing a separate blog post – Thing 3(b), if you will, which to my delight has become a most popular post – just about that. I can’t quite offer a solution to your dilemma yet, though!

    • Jen Laurenson May 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Well the Apprentice is one of those things I watch in horror, whilst attempting to cover both eyes and ears simultaneously. I don’t know why I put myself through it. Talking about a “personal brand” is the kind of thing I’d expect them to do but I should stop thinking about it as a dirty word since it has really helped me think about how other professionals perceive me and how I want to be perceived.

      I’m wondering if I just plaster both versions of my name over my blog, twitter account and other social media that everything will come up no matter if it’s Jen/Jennifer. Or maybe there is a more sophisticated, technical way of doing it. If I ever find a decent solution I’ll let you know!

  2. Lizzie Atkinson May 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    I have a similar name problem (Elizabeth/Lizzie) and my way of dealing with it has been to try to always stick to Lizzie, with the unfortunate exception of my work email which was set before I started there and had a chance to think about it. Everyone knows me as Lizzie and I find it so much simpler to just stick to the one name. Obviously some official things have to have Elizabeth on them, but I have “Elizabeth (Lizzie) Atkinson” on my CV so hopefully potential employers will think to google Lizzie Atkinson as well as or instead of just Elizabeth Atkinson.

    I really don’t think not having a focussed ‘brand’ is necessarily a bad thing – as long as the stuff that does come across is positive. Like you, I’m a graduate trainee and still right at the start of my career. I don’t know exactly where I want to end up yet and there are so many exciting looking paths ahead of me I don’t want to choose just yet. I intend to focus more in the future, once I’ve worked out who I want to be professionally, but right now I’m enjoying developing any skills I think might be useful and finding out about anything that sounds interesting.

    • Jen Laurenson May 24, 2012 at 10:04 am #

      Hi Lizzie, I think you’re right – I need to stick to one form of my name and be consistent. That’s a great idea putting it on your CV like that, as I’d prefer to go by Jen but feel that I should really put my full name down on serious things!

      I think for the while my “brand” is going to be “over-excited new professional who seems to be interested in anything,” but hey, that’s probably not a bad thing.

  3. Nicky June 4, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Hi Jen. I have enjoyed reading your posts and you certainly come across as a bubbly individual who is full of enthusiasm – I’m guessing that sums you up correctly! I could have had a similar problem with my name (I’m known as Nicky but really I’m a Nicola) but I decided on Nicky such a long time ago (way before I got anywhere near being professional in anything) that I only use Nicola on official documents now. Maybe you just need to choose the version of your name that you want to be known by and only use that, and eventually that will be the name you’re known by. I haven’t got to Thing 3 yet (slow starter) but I’m guessing you should be in charge of your brand, not the other way around!

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