Personal branding: you may have heard the term before. CEOs and entrepreneurs seem to always be going on about how we need to “market” and “establish a vision” of ourselves. How is this useful to us just starting out in the LIS field? How do we start to create a “personal brand” when we’re still trying to get our foot in the door?
In today’s guest post James Nicholson, the current ALIA Students & New Graduates Group secretary, cuts through the marketing-speak and shows us how easy it is to create a continually active personal brand as an industry newbie. Being active and engaged with your own professional reputation could be the key to opening that door all the way.
We are now in an environment where having a consistently active personal brand is a great asset to help forge a career in the information industry. What is a personal brand and how do we create one?
We can’t sit back and wait for opportunities to come to us. It’s not even enough to simply seek out jobs or opportunities when we need them. Rather, get ahead by creating a personal brand that is active whilst you’re not even trying, allowing potential opportunities to seek you out instead of the other way around.
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
How do we take charge of our personal brand? Well, it starts with being active and engaged with the industry. Here are three steps to get you going.
Step #1: Get online
The first step is to create an online presence through social media and platforms such as personal blogs. Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter are well known and advantages about increasing your visibility and network opportunities have been well written about. However, it is important to note that in the LIS industry Twitter seems to be the preferred social media platform. Even if you don’t normally use it, by having an active account keeps your name at the forefront of contacts that have potential opportunities.
As well as social media, consider other platforms such as personal blogs. Creating a personal blog does a number of things, it gives you an outlet for writing practice, a place to communicate your story and most importantly it’s another way for people to contact you. This is always working for you in the background, just make sure you have clear contact info, maybe an electronic resume and a short, effective bio. Through driving traffic to your blog you are creating a continual brand allowing opportunities to become visible to you without actively seeking them out.
Step #2: Get signed up
The second step is to register with recruitment companies. This is a pretty simple and self explaining step, however, many people forget or don’t fully utilise this option. I will add in here that signing up to email alerts for jobs from sites like Seek.com.au is a must, that way you don’t miss any potential opportunity. This point, though, is mainly geared towards signing with specialist recruitment companies such as Ignite (formally One Umbrella). You will get professionals helping you behind the scenes and with their industry knowledge and connections this is a valuable tool.
Step #3: Get involved
Step three is to develop your industry involvement and join a professional group or committee. This step is easier than you imagine. Think committees, special interest groups, conference attendance etc. Industry bodies like ALIA are a great place to start. An example of this is NLS8. It’s organised by a voluntary committee and it offers them a great way to meet a whole wave of information professionals, some of whom may have opportunities for them but more than this it gets their personal brand into the network.
“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”
– Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Work Week.
Consider the above quote. If potential employers wanted to find you, would they be able to? They might have your number but maybe they can’t call or you don’t answer. If they looked for you, could they find you? I recommend thinking about the steps I’ve discussed above and ask yourself if your brand is active and continually working behind the scenes. If you can’t find yourself, how would a potential opportunity seek you out?
These are not difficult steps individually and everyone can achieve them. There are some great resources out there to help get you started, here are some that helped me:
- Wix.com is a great website to build a personal site. Here’s mine: www.jamesnicholson.com.au and my blog: www.infomanblog.com
- https://sites.google.com/site/aliasnggjobhelp/ – This is the ALIA Student and New Graduates group job help site, full of great resources
- https://www.igniteservices.com/ – check out recruitment services like this.
- Join ALIA, RIMPA, ASA or many other industry body e-newsletters to keep up to date with potential opportunities to improve your active branding
- Get your Linkedin.com profile spot on! – check out https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-31-best-linkedin-profile-tips-for-job-seekers
Finally, don’t forget that your branding isn’t always about asking people for opportunities etc. In creating a consistent personal brand that is visible, people will be aware of you and what you are about. When an opportunity comes up you may very well find that it seeks you out, rather than the other way around.