Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Some thoughts on brand #cilipnpd12 #cpd23

At the CILIP New Professionals Day last Friday the always-super Ned Potter gave a great keynote about personal brand: You already have a brand: here are five ways to influence it.

Ned emphasised that personal brand is more about what you do than about working out what colour your business cards should be: action not appearance.  He covered a lot of ways to influence personal brand, all of them useful, but the part that most caught my attention was the section on blogging.  Little of what was said was 100% new to me, but Ned somehow brought it all together and into focus, so now I have a much better idea of what I should be trying to do.

My efforts to brand myself as an interested, enthusiastic and competent special collections new professional can't have been doing too badly, as I was asked to lead a workshop at the New Professionals Day, but I'm always keen to improve. I've been wondering for a while quite what it is I'm doing with this blog: I use it to record some of the things I do and what I think about them, and to put out information about things I hear about, and sometimes how to explain to do things.

Ned suggested that to be successful for promoting a personal brand*, blogs need to offer one of the following characteristics: usefulness, helpfulness, silliness, style, honesty or provocation. When I first started, as part of 23 Things Cambridge in summer 2010, the other participants voted me most helpful blogger both, I think, for some of the how-to posts I wrote as well as my comments on other blogs.  Since I finished that course I've not been so consciously helpful: I've been focussing a lot more on reflective writing, which is rarely of such great interest to other people. Looking through my blog stats, my most popular posts are as follows.

By views
By comments
Useful posts score pretty highly here, but I don't write as many useful posts as I'd like to. Lots of them are lurking in my mind, but to be useful to other people (and useful to my brand) they need to be well-written and/or the resources they offer need to be well put together.  (You would not believe how long it took to put together the Why Libraries Are Great Slides, or the Special Collections Librarianship prezi.)

So I'm going to make an effort to write-up more useful and helpful posts.  This is something I know I can do, and comes much more naturally than being provocative (well, most of the time - I'm not always a shrinking violet), or silly, or stylish.  To start with, I'll compile a weekly list of useful special collections links I see and retweet on Twitter: not everyone's on Twitter, and even those who are can't catch everything.  I think it could be useful to record them somewhere less fleeting.  Unless anyone knows of somewhere else doing the same thing already?  I'll also pull my finger out and try and write up some of the how-to posts that have been languishing in my to-do list for too long.

Thanks Ned for inspiring me into action!

*Edited to express what I meant to express first time round, 15 May 2012.


  1. Okay, I feel the need to clarify a couple of things here! :)

    Firstly, those criteria (silly, useful etc) were just some ideas about the kinds of things which elevant a blog beyond 'this is what I did today', rather than an exhaustive list.

    But more importantly, I was talking specifically about a scenario by which you'd decided to try and use your blog to reach more people, in order to build your brand. That isn't something everyone wants to do - lot's of blogs are just reflective tools. Which is fine. I like your blog, I've never thought 'I wish it was more useful' - but if you came to me and said 'I want to reach more people for reasons of building a brand' then I might suggest the kinds of things I talked about in the presentation. Do you see what I mean?

    I think you probably did know all that - I suppose my point is, the line 'Ned suggested that to be successful, blogs need to offer one of the following characteristics..' is focussed on a particular type of success, and there are other just as legitimate success types which I didn't talk about on Friday. :)

    1. Hi Ned, thanks for commenting. Your clarification was exactly what I meant to say - sorry for mis-respresenting you. I'll pop a couple of extra words in the clarify things in the post.

  2. In relation to comments - I know I don't always comment, even if I'd like to. Sometimes I don't have time, sometimes I mean to go back and then life happens. Sometimes Blogger (or whatever) just won't let me. I discovered from my original (non-library) blog that people missed me if I wasn't posting, but not that many people commented.
    I must admit now though, having had a few people get in touch to point out that my comments on Blogger just weren't working, I do try and email people if I've tried to post comments a couple of times to their blog and haven't been able to...

    1. Oh yeah - Blogger can be strange about comments. It's one of the things that makes me want to move over to Wordpress, but I just haven't worked up the momentum to get it done.