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Building Blocks for Personal Brands

Building Blocks for Personal Brands

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Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. "Building Blocks for Personal Brands." Social Eyes. Journal of Web Librarianship 5.2 (2011).
Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. "Building Blocks for Personal Brands." Social Eyes. Journal of Web Librarianship 5.2 (2011).

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12/14/2012

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Building Blocks for Personal Brands Social Eyes, Journal of Web Librarianship Lisa Carlucci Thomas Digital Services

Librarian Southern Connecticut State University

At the 2011 ALA Midwinter Conference, the ACRL New Members Discussion Group presented a panel on ³Personal Branding for New Librarians.´ Moderated by Bohyun Kim (Florida International University), the panel featured four librarians speaking about their individual experiences and approaches to personal branding: Brett Bonfield (Collingswood Public Library, NJ), Kiyomi Deards (University of Nebraska Lincoln), Lisa Carlucci Thomas (Southern Connecticut State University) and Andromeda Yelton (recent graduate, Simmons College). The ALA New Members Round Table published an excellent summary of the presentation written by Andromeda Yelton in their newsletter, Footnotes. In it, Yelton covered the panel discussion and more, highlighting three ³common themes´ of the discussion: ³relationships, reputation, and responsibility´ (2011). Steven Bell (Temple University), a columnist for Library Journal, provided an overview in his article ³The WHY of Your Brand.´ When it comes to personal branding, Bell writes, ³all your actions and messages must emerge from [those] core beliefs and they must be consistent´ (2011). In these articles, Yelton and Bell each draw attention to remarks I made regarding a core aspect of personal branding: establishing professional relationships. This action is one of four critical building blocks necessary to support your personal brand and develop it into a credible, recognizable, representation of you and your

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work. The four essential building blocks for personal brands are: name, message, channels, and bridges.

Building Block 1: What¶s My Name? Start by deciding on a brand name: will you use your given name or invent a business name? Will you abbreviate the name or perhaps use initials? Select a version of your brand name that is easy to read and spell phonetically; and ideally, isn¶t too long. Longer names take up prime real estate in text-limited environments, such as Twitter and SMS, and can also be more difficult for your connections to remember and spell correctly. Once a brand name has been chosen, be sure to Google it to determine originality and to eliminate any inadvertent associations with unlikely affiliates of the same name. And don¶t forget to search it on leading social networks. Utilities namechk (http://namechk.com) and knowem (http://knowem.com) search across numerous social networks and allow you to view name availability results at a glance.

Building Block 2: Refine the Message A brand represents a particular service, product, or experience to those who engage with it. It¶s imperative to develop a definitive understanding of the brand for yourself before you go public and revisit it regularly after the brand is launched. This doesn¶t mean that your message won¶t expand or evolve; on the contrary, it should evolve. However, you must be able to clearly articulate the value and purpose of your brand. What separates your brand from others? What are the skills and knowledge that make you unique? What will you bring to the table? Social business expert Chris Brogan advises that you should build your brand around ³whatever matters

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most to you, and also what you are capable of sustaining´ (2008). Write down your message. Can you sustain it? Brogan¶s website offers a wealth of down to earth, practical advice for personal branding suitable for beginners and beyond. Check it out at http://www.chrisbrogan.com.

Building Block 3: Channel Surf Information consumers receive content from multiple information streams, blending social and online media with television, radio, and print sources. Invest effort in building brand presence on channels that have the greatest market for the audience you want to reach. Learn the platforms and options, investigate the benefits and opportunities of providing varying types of content across multiple channels, and become familiar with how those tuned in are interacting with content providers. A little advance research will help you determine the right channel(s) for your brand. If you¶re new to personal branding, devote your energy to fully developing a presence on one or two platforms. Do what you do well and do it consistently. Yelton¶s article makes this point well: ³If you¶re a social media wizard, get out there on Twitter and Facebook. If you present, do SlideShare. If you schmooze, go to all the conferences you can. You won¶t be able to be active everywhere, and your initial choices might not be right, but you¶ll learn what works for you´ (Yelton 2011).

Building Block 4: Build Bridges Personal brand models will vary based on an individual¶s own style and objectives. Yet, the ultimate purpose remains the same. Establishing a brand of any kind fosters the development of reciprocal relationships of value. Brand-to-brand connections enjoy the mutual benefit of

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learning from and working with experienced colleagues in the industry. Brand-to-client connections promote effective marketing, customer service, and expanded reach. In the short term, a well-defined, personal brand lets people know what you know and what you can do. Connect with cross-industry and cross-disciplinary peers and future customers via social sharing platforms. Interact and communicate insights, respond to posted content and let feedback spark conversations. Over time, the ³relationships, reputation, and responsibility´ associated with your brand will present new opportunities for creativity, partnerships, and growth (Yelton 2011). Strong building blocks provide a solid foundation your brand as it prospers and support career development during changing times. Just ask Matt Scott, radio news anchor & producer at WPLR (99.1 FM), New Haven, CT. From 2002-2010, Scott¶s personal brand was developed around his career as a popular broadcast meteorologist at News8 (WTNH-TV), New Haven, CT. When his contract at News8 ended, his community knew where to find him and how to stay in touch via Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/themattcast) and Twitter (@themattcast & @tvmattscott). The building blocks of Matt Scott¶s personal brand²his name, message, channels, and bridges²soundly supported him through a job transition and allowed for the expansion of his brand content even as he ceased delivering content on what had previously been his dominant channel (News8). If you¶re ready to hop on the brand-wagon, remember that outstanding building materials can only take you so far. Vision, determination, faith, a sense of humor, and humility are also required. Anticipate gaffes and technical difficulties, expect to be challenged by outstanding competitors and heckled by grumpy opponents, and be poised and ready to expand when your brand takes off. Stay focused. When in doubt, return to the foundation of your personal brand and build anew. The sky is the limit.

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On Twitter? Follow author @lisacarlucci & share feedback using hashtag #socialeyes

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References Bell, Steven. 2011. ³The WHY of Your Brand.´ Accessed January 21, 2011. http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/communityacademiclibraries/888893265/the_why_of_y our_brand.html.csp. Brogan, Chris. 2008. ³Develop a Strong Personal Brand Online Part 1.´ Accessed March 4, 2011. http://www.chrisbrogan.com/develop-a-strong-personal-brand-online-1. Yelton, Andromeda. 2011. ³Personal Branding for New Librarians.´ Accessed February 16, 2011. http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/rts/nmrt/news/footnotes/february2011/personal_branding_f or_new_librarians_yelton.cfm.

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This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in the Journal of Web Librarianship 2011, copyright Taylor & Francis; Journal of Web Librarianship is available online at:
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/WJWL

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