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.
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.