Defining Your Personal Brand
Each year, hundreds of new library professionals enter the job market, while seasoned library professionals look for opportunities to upgrade their careers. All of them have something in common: Their ability to stand out from the competition relies on how they showcase their talents.
Today, showcasing your talents goes beyond providing a simple paper resume and hoping that the layout and the content will convey your abilities. Today’s technology means seeking a position or marketing your services is much more dependent on establishing a public profile. Hiring managers are likely to search for potential job candidates, collaborators and speakers online. Standing out among the many contenders calls for personal branding.
Developing a personal brand is the process of marketing and defining unique skills. Every library professional should have a career plan and a personal brand strategy. This personal brand is essential when competing for a promotion or a new job, or even when redefining perceptions of your skills and establishing professional credentials, because it enables you to influence how your work is viewed. In addition, a personal brand is an excellent way to set an example for employees that you supervise. And if self-improvement is a priority, personal branding can enhance how people assess your professional status and help influence how you are viewed.
The Benefits of Social Networks
Creating profiles on social networks can open up a stream of communication with potential employers, collaborators, and stakeholders. Social media also offers an effective way to network 24 hours a day without paying for conferences. Each social network has unique qualities that professionals can explore to promote their careers. Here are a few ways that social networks can be used for personal branding.
LinkedIn is particularly good for making connections with others with similar professional skills. If you identify someone that you admire professionally, you can find them on LinkedIn and request to connect with them. LinkedIn is also useful for exploring profiles of the individuals that are associated with others. This can help you examine career paths and find inspiration for changing your own. In addition, LinkedIn allows you to:
- Review job postings at organizations you’re interested in
- Examine the skills of people whom you would like to emulate
- Read articles written by other professionals
- Build a personal learning network by creating and joining LinkedIn groups
Although Facebook started as a social platform for college students, it has evolved into something other than an outlet to explore hobbies or to connect with family and friends. Many professional organizations and thought leaders have Facebook pages or groups that you can join so don’t miss one of their posts. You can also promote your personal brand by:
- Sharing live video
- Completing a profile or “About” page to share your skills
- Linking your profile to related pages or other social media sites
- Deciding who to share content with
- Creating a public or private group to discuss topics
- Commenting on other users’ posts
Twitter is a microblogging platform that limits users to posts of 280 or fewer characters. However, you can also link to additional content to extend posts. The impact of Twitter can be monumental, even if the posts are only a few words. Millions of Twitter users have become influential by sharing, re-tweeting and commenting on posts. Twitter allows users to:
- Participate in chats about topics of interest
- Identify trending topics
- Interact with individuals that you normally would not be able to
- Organize chats about topics to seek assistance
- Interact in an environment that embraces novices and experts
- Find news shared by organizations and individuals
- Gather tweets for research
Considerations for Using Social Networks
Some caution is required before using social media for personal branding. First, there are many social media sites beyond Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Consider each social media network and the types of groups that it caters to. The networks mentioned here represent a variety of viewpoints, and you can be selective about how you engage. However, some social media networks only support select viewpoints. Be mindful of the mission of the social media network before joining. Monitor the people and organizations that you follow on social networks to ensure that you agree with the posts that they are making.
In addition, it is essential to use a recognizable, appropriate profile on social media. Some people decide to separate their personal and professional content; others feel that their personal content can integrate well with their work profiles. If you are going to mix profiles, be mindful not to post something inappropriate for your personal or professional followers.
In conclusion, personal branding is an important part of enhancing a career. One way to get started with personal branding is to use social media networks. Social media is often free and offers a way to connect with like-minded professionals and to explore trends. Three of the most popular social media networks for personal branding are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Each social network has its own unique characteristics that appeal to different people. If a professional decides to use these social networks, links to other websites and social network pages can be shared in the profile pages to enhance visibility.
Library Connect is pleased to offer our readers an exclusive look at the author's book, Growing your Library Career with Social Media, book by providing a PDF of Chapter 3, “Using social networks for personal branding.” This chapter give a more in-depth look at how social media can be used for personal branding and includes tips for developing your personal branding plan and expert options on the value of social media and personal branding.
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