The Brand That is Me!

COMM 0014
Blog Post # 5

If you really want to know what your personal brand is, set up a Linked In account, and monitor any endorsements that you accumulate from your connections.

Writing about the brand “that is you” is difficult. Who wants to toot your own horn, so the best way to talk about your personal brand is by letting others do the talking.

Before Linked In came along, I would have described myself as someone that was committed, loyal, innovative and community minded. My assessment would have been based on my past work experience that has primarily been in management and leadership roles, and my personal interests that have involved a lot of community based volunteer work. What Linked In helped me understand was how others viewed me, and whether my thoughts were in line with theirs.

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It turns out that in some cases they were, and in others, we weren’t on the same page. For example, the highest number of endorsements I have received have been for public relations (57), fundraising (51), community development (34), radio (19) and public speaking (17).

You might have guessed it by looking at these endorsements that I have a very public job. I manage a student services department at a community college and much of that role involves public relations. What has surprised me about the way people view me is the endorsements for fundraising and radio. I was trained as a broadcast journalist and spent 13 years in radio and television before joining the college, but I have been out of the “paid” broadcasting business for 16 years. I still do a bit of volunteer work for community television.

As far as fundraising goes, I am self taught. I have been heavily involved in helping to raise funds for our new campus that opened in the fall of 2012, but I certainly don’t view myself as a professional fundraiser. In fact, fundraising is kind of like having a tooth pulled, in that asking for someone’s money can be a very painful experience that doesn’t always have a happy ending.

So what does this tell me about my personal brand? It suggests that people form an opinion of you over a long period of time. As your career progresses, you carry with you those opinions and the expectations that come with them.

Social media allows your personal brand to grow. Instead of making an impression at the monthly chamber of commerce meeting, you now have a 24/7 presence, whether you like it or not. Try “googling” yourself. It can be an eye-opening experience, much like getting endorsements on Linked In.

Now that I know I have a personal brand, the next task is managing it. Paying attention to how people are engaging with you on social media is the new networking reality. It’s no longer about being evaluated on how firm your handshake is (although that sometimes still matters), but rather about how influential you can be on line?

Your personal brand is your passport. With a good brand, you can travel a lot of places, and like any passport it needs to be well protected!

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