Sunday, July 3, 2011

CPD23 Thing #3 - My Personal Brand

If you're wondering what CPD23 means, just follow the link!

Today, we're thinking about our personal brand. Do I even have a personal brand? This isn't something about which I've given a great deal of thought. True, the tagline for my blog reads, "Libraries, Management, and Technology" so I guess, in retrospect, this was my brand statement when I started my blog. Those three topics are still certainly my primary topics of discussion on this blog, so I'm glad for the consistency.

However, those three words aren't truly a brand in and of themselves. The Mashable article Personal Branding 101 illustrates that a personal brand is more than just your interests or how you perceive yourself. That's only one half of the equation. Literally only half of the equation. In the article, the following equation is shown to represent your personal brand:

Your self-impression = How people perceive you

if the two sides of the equation are equal. So, in order to know if you've discovered your true personal brand, you have to have a good understanding of yourself, a good understanding of how others perceive you and have a good bit of overlap between the two.

That second half can be a lot more difficult to discover than the first. One way to figure out how others see you is through the vanity search. I have a pretty common name. When I google 'Chris Freeman', I don't find anything that refers to me until the 26th hit. I'm not an architect, a realtor, neither of the bad musicians on MySpace, an actor, attorney, nor dentist. And I'm certainly not the founder of the Science and Technology Policy Research Center at the University of Sussex.

But, if I google 'Chris Freeman librarian', which is a reasonable guess at how others might try to find me on the web, the entire first page of hits point at me. If you try this search, the first things you'll find are:
  • This blog
  • My LinkedIn profile
  • My Twitter profile
  • My Mendely profile (a hybrid social networking and scholarly document sharing site that I haven't used in a couple of years)
  • My Blogger profile
So, it looks like anyone searching for me is going to find information about me that projects a largely professional image. On the entire first page of links, only my Twitter profile would give any kind of peek at all into who I am on a more personal note. I'm OK with that. I use both Facebook and Twitter for professional and for personal interactions. For me, I think this is a good thing because I'm careful not to say anything to embarrass myself in either of those networks; however, someone who wanted to know more about me personally would see that I have a friendly personality and that I do have other interests beyond work.

In further trying to guess at how others might see my brand, I can look at the statistics for readership of this blog. Aside from the home page, my four most popular posts all have to do with technology (either eBook use or QR code implementations):
Knowing which of my posts are most popular likely tells me two things. First, those topics on which others see me as being credible and, second, topics for further writing on my part if I want to enhance the chances that I'll draw in readers.

Still, I'm really only guessing if I accept at face value that my G cred tells the whole story about how others perceive me. As Jo Alcock says in the post for Thing #3, it requires a bit of bravery to actually ask others to tell you their impressions. The question Jo asks specifically is: what does my blog say to you about my personal brand? I'm game: if anyone wants to answer that question, it would be fun to hear back from you.

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