Brand Me. No, Not With That Hot Iron . . .

Brand Me. No, Not With That Hot Iron . . . by David Whelan I guess I’m pretty skeptical in general, but I sat through a number of sessions during the Special Libraries Association virtual conference that dealt with “personal branding”. They discussed how to use Twitter, Facebook, and blogging to develop a positive, focused, professional reputation. I don’t buy it, because to really have a brand, you need to be able to distinguish yourself. And, while a number of librarians may be able to do that, most librarians aren’t. So I was delighted to see a collection of blog postings recently debunking the personal brand idea.

I won’t rehash them.  I started with Doc Searls, thanks to Jim Milles (@jimmilles), and he links to all of the others:  a newer post, and two posts at  Blogher, here and here.

What I like about Doc Searls’ post is that he distinguishes reputation and branding.  Librarians should read this closely.  You do not want to create your own brand.  You want to develop your professional reputation.  That does not need to be anything mind-blowing.  Another post at Harvard, The Disadvantage of Twitter and Facebook, highlights one way to do this, the forwarding quotient.

If you spend time developing a positive reputation, your customers (users, patrons, lawyers, students, whatever) will want to work with you more often, will see more value in your organization.  You don’t need a blog or Twitter to do this.  You need to be accessible, whether on a customer service level or as a a colleague.  As Doc Searls says:

The hard thing for social media folks is that they’re still working the Saying Stuff beat while  Doing Stuff is what matters most

Do stuff.  That’s more important to your professional growth and development than just saying stuff.  You can be yourself and be successful at the same time.

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David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.