by Sandra Hoyer, former Head Editor, INALJ Washington
previously published 5/9/13
9 Ways to Brand Yourself: A Few Thoughts on Personal Branding and Standing Out
Having survived the last year in the Washington, D.C. area in a large library, I spent much of that time absorbing and writing down what makes people successful in the professional landscape. Many of my notes all connect back to one central idea, the importance of creating a strong and identifiable personal brand.
What is a personal brand, you ask? Essentially, your personal brand is the image that is broadcasted to potential employers, business contacts, colleagues, and many other important figures in the professional world and works as a de facto “first impression.”
Knowing this may cause anxiety concerning how others may perceive you. The best way to combat this unknown factor is to actively create your personal brand and have a hand in the way in which your presence interacts with the professional world.
Here are some ideas on creating a healthy and shiny personal brand:
1-Creating business cards. At the end of every professional networking event or get-together that you may participate in, you might find yourself overwhelmed with names and details of the people you met. A great way to remind them of who you are and how to contact you is to give them a business card. And similarly, always ask others for their cards as a way to keep in contact with them. Another helpful hint: write how you met the person on the back of that person’s business card and one important thing you talked about. This way you immediately know who gave you each card and what you talked about, i.e. John Doe works at the Smithsonian and likes the Hun Dynasty. Adding important facts to the back of business cards also gives you something to refer back to when, and if, you decide to follow up with them over email or a social networking site.
2-Create a LinkedIn account. In my opinion, LinkedIn creates a far more professional presence than Facebook, and is an excellent way for any interested parties to learn more about your experience, goals, activities etc. It also allows you to follow the movers and shakers in your field and could lead to a myriad of possibilities (jobs…anyone?) down the line.
3-Always maintain an updated resume. You never know when you might want to apply to your dream job. Having your resume up-to-date at all times will allow you to stay on the cutting edge of the job market. One good habit to develop is to edit your resume after you learn and master a new skill or following the completion of a major work accomplishment/project. It will also make it less of struggle to get everything assembled whenever you decide to apply to a new position.
4-Create a Twitter account. Twitter can be a great way to keep in contact with friends, but it can also be the perfect way to share your professional interests through articles, retweeting, and contacts. Creating a professional public facing Twitter account will be another great way to get your name out and show active interest in your field. It is also a great way to connect with others in your field and see the kinds of activities and initiatives that they are up to.
5-Create a blog. Writing is a great way to make your presence known, share information, and offer your insights and knowledge on a variety of issues. Much like a Twitter account, a blog can be used as a space to establish and share your professional identity.
6-Join professional organizations and actively participate. I think we have all at some point joined professional groups with every intention of actively participating, but then find that it doesn’t quite happen. A great way to get your name out is to join professional groups and participate in events and conferences that may come up. The key is to be active and not just pay dues. Participating will make you a recognizable figure which is always a plus. The library field has many to choose from, to name a few: American Library Association, REFORMA, your state specific organization (e. g. California Library Association, Virginia Library Association, Maryland Library Association, and many more), Special Library Association, and many others. For more ideas visit: ALA Library Associations Around the World.
7-Attend professional conferences and development meetings. A great way to stay current on what’s going on in your field is by attending workshops and meetings that are geared towards teaching you the most up-to-date practices. This is also a great way to meet people who are also interested in improving the field and their workplace and could lead to fantastic networking and partnership opportunities.
8-Volunteer. There is no better way to get your name in a desired institution or business in this less-than- ideal job market than by being a volunteer. Volunteering allows you to put your best self forward while simultaneously doing what you love and leaving a lasting impression. It is also a great way to gain some very hard to come by experience that may make all the difference in your next interview or job hire.
9- Attend webinars. Find that you’re too busy for blogs, professional groups, and conferences? A great way to still actively participate in what’s going on in your field on a limited time budget is to attend many of the lunchtime webinars that many groups are offering. An easy way to learn about these opportunities is to get on local library and group listservs, these often send out several webinar opportunities throughout the week.
I recognize that there is not nearly enough time in the world to do all of these. I suggest trying some out and finding what personally works best for you. You may surprise yourself and find something unusual that you excel in that may set you on a new and exciting professional track. Best of luck!