So, it’s time to think about my personal brand, it would appear. Well, I think I can quite clearly and definitely say that my professional brand is hugely muddled, and I’ve added to that confusion by recently changing my blog name! Who am I? Where am I? Where’s my blog gone? Why did I choose such a silly name?
Although if we were talking about my non-professional brand, I’m pretty consistent with what I do there. If you know my usual online username, you’ll find me all over the web quite easily. And, as I’m the only person who uses my username (or at least I have been for the last 10 years or so), if you find me out there, it will be me. Of the first 20 Google search results, 18 are about me. This may even potentially be higher, but my account is protected on certain services, and so won’t be indexed by Google. And I’m pretty good at closing down accounts with services I no longer use, so they’re also usually active accounts, or those in limbo before they’re deleted.
So, I think I’ve got a pretty successful non-professional brand! Luckily, I’m not the sort of person who puts dodgy stuff onto the internet (well, not unless it’s been a particularly drunken evening), so even if an external professional found my personal activities, none of it would reflect badly on me.
As for my professional brand? Well, I like to think of myself as a “professhunul” – I’m professional, when the situation calls for it, but mostly, I’m quite laid back, childish, and find it easier to meander about the grown-up issues. The style and tone of the content I write for my blog is echoing the way I communicate with friends or fellow professionals in person…I can do formal if I need to, I just don’t feel it’s necessarily always the best way to communicate. I’m not an academic, I’m not talking about academic things…in fact, on here, I’m quite often talking about silly things, so I’m happy with my silly/ light tone.
I also like to be mostly-anonymous in my professional online persona. Although it’s pretty straightforward to find out who I am if you’re that way inclined, I like the one-step-removedness of being not-quite-me. My (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I do actually do them) professional activities can easily be found via a Google search for my real name (and throwing in the word “library”, as I apparently share my name with an actress – I promise, those IMDB entries ain’t me!), and 9 out of 10 of the first hits are for the Real Me, so when I de-cloak the stealth mode, I can be quite visible. If I want to be!
As for my image/photograph…hmmm…that’s another place where I like to be semi-anonymous. I don’t use a photo of my current self as an avatar, but I do use a younger version of me, with a few odd amendments. I also use the photo of books that I use on this blog – that even removes the hint of my gender. When I post photos of myself on anywhere “open”, they last a few hours to a day before I remove them – I know they’re still available in the nooks and crannies of the magical interweb, but they’re not sitting Right There any more. Other photos I will post on Flickr, and restrict them only to a “friends and family” group. I am getting slightly more relaxed about photos, but not quite to the extent yet of allowing a photo of my normal self to be linked to my online presence….not even on LinkedIn!
As for LinkedIn itself., I don’t really “get” it – I’m there because it’s like a shop window for my professional self (in fact, it’s the only place where you’ll see the Fully Professional version of me), but as I’m not looking for new roles, and I’m happily building my network through other sources (in fact, a lot of my contacts on LinkedIn I’ve met virtually elsewhere), I just use it to throw information at. It’s only there that you’ll find my job history, current role and responsibilities, professional groups I’m involved with, training I’ve organised or attended…LinkedIn is the only place my real name, my real employer, and my real activities go together. I’ve even put a link on it to this blog…which I suppose makes this blog more formal.
Ohhh hell, I have no idea what I’m doing. Can you tell?