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.
- Doing it wrong (provocation and honesty)
- What's your name (useful)
- Threat of library closure at the British Museum (useful and a rant)
- Knit one purl one (silliness and knitting)
- A week in my library life (useful)
- Thing 18: "They may pass for excellent men" (a post about Zotero and Mendeley, asking for advice)
- On anonymity (honest post about blogging choices)
- What's your name? (useful)
- Does my bran look big in this? (asking for comments)
- For your reading pleasure (useful)
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.