I always though branding was a horrible word 'become your own brand'. It sounds so much like shallow marketing. In the meantime I changed. I started branding myself online, though not consciously, through this blog, participation in online communities, twitter, commenting on blogs. I have a lot of followers on Google+ even though I hardly post...So branding can also be about sharing you unique view on professional issues and showing what your view and particular interest is. This is actually fun to do. I am now convinced you can use social media very effectively and in a fun way to develop your professional identity. Seeing what type of blogposts trigger a response from you may help you define your own specific interests to pursue.
What is a professional? A professional is someone who work and has autonomy to act. He or she identifies with his field of work. A doctor in a hospital often identifies himself more easily with other medical doctors than with the hospital. As a result he of she will be more energized by a meeting with peer than by a hospital department meeting.
Online personal branding Social media provides a space for professionals to profile themselves as autonomous thinkers and professionals. Much more than for instance within the organisation. This sometimes gives friction if someone is more appreciated online than in the organisation. In social media they are judged for unique content and interesting views whereas in organisation hierarchy and organisational politics come into play. However, in social media there is also group dynamics, but it works differently.
Meet Emile I would like to share a great example of online branding. I was part of a meeting, the Yamtour. The meeting started online. During the gathering some speakers were features from large organisations like Rijkswaterstaat en Capgemini.
They had interesting stories, so my point is not that the selection process was not good, but often the larger organisations are in the spotlight. Small innovators like Emile buurtzorg will not be selected so easily to be on stage. However, Emile used the online space to profile himself succesfully online as an innovator in the health sector. He used the online space to search other health professionals and started a group for them. After the event, he organised an informal meet up. This is an example of using online space to profile yourself.
Four strategies to use for personal branding using social media
- Become an 'info-mediairy' or 'content curator' if you want. Scan information, search, make sense of it and add your personal view. You can use Google like everybody else, but you need to build your unique learning network to get more interesting information. You can use RSS feeds and other dashboard tools like tweetdeck or hootsuite to help you scan information. Don't forget the sharing part!
- Network and learn. The speed of communication through social media and the open culture lends itself for building a personal learning network, a group of people who can help you answer work related questions. As they say: 'it's no longer what you know but who you know'. My tip is to invest in developing some relationships further. Not allow your network to become very shallow. Try to meet new people too.
- Share. Menno Lanting -in his Dutch book 'Iedereen CEO'- notes that sharing through social media is an excellent way to work on and develop a professional identity. What are the things you'd like to tweet? What triggers you to write a blog. Maybe your blog categories help you to sharpen your elevator pitch. Everybody is an expert on something on social media...
- Collaborate in project. Maybe you are a very practical person and you'd prefer to let your actions speak. You could also use social media to work on real project and collaborate. For instance help build a wiki about a specific topic.
I developed a presentation on Prezi on this topic. You might have a look if you are interested. It is in Dutch, but quite visual so it might make sense.