Right here, today, I am rejecting my fear of being labeled. In fact, it’s time to label myself.
Yes, this stirs in me all sorts of fears and vulnerabilities. I’m too complex to be labeled. … You don’t know me. … There’s more to me than that. But this desire to define how others define me started recently with something I can only describe as coalescence — a small series of unexpected phone calls and surprising e-mail messages, all leading me to the conclusion that people were beginning to figure out what Kristin Magette is all about.
Now, before I get any closer to the self-importance ledge, let me say that these connections and opportunities were not of the life-changing variety. Agreeing to write a short blog post for the web site company at the school district where I work. Sitting as the subject of a video blog for a consultant we’d hired to help us embrace social media, which got exciting traction when Edudemic picked it up. Speaking on a panel in a local social media workshop for non-profits. Writing an article or two for an education journal about social media in schools. The kinds of things that flatter but don’t make you some kind of a Big Deal. (Which is good because I’ve watched enough reality shows on Bravo to know that I am not entirely interested in being a Big Deal.)
But in the midst of realizing that I was kind of becoming known for something, I read the perfect post by (amazing) Jonathan Fields. His point: People will label you – so you’d best label yourself first. And this was the moment when I decided to take control. I am more than someone who has ideas about social media in schools — I love that part of my job and professional identity – but it is just one part. The need to label myself more holistically is what led me to personal branding. And if I’m going to brand myself, I need to decide what that means and how to get there. Learning from a friend and colleague who has a masterful approach to personal branding (read about it on his blog here), these are the goals I set for myself:
- Improve my profile on LinkedIn to maximize for SEO, and be purposeful about my use of social media, in particular Twitter and (sigh) Google+. Seek to engage with the users and spaces I want to be connected to.
- Create greeting cards featuring a quote that gets to the essence of who I am and how I want to be perceived. Use these cards to send personal notes to friends and colleagues on occasion.
- Write a short, easily remembered personal boilerplate. (Insert shout-out to the awesome journalism teachers of my past for the fact that I know what a boilerplate is.) Weave this into my LinkedIn profile, and include it on the back of the greeting cards.
- Upgrade my professional photograph. (No, that selfie I took from my laptop in an old dumpy office doesn’t quite do it for me anymore.) Since I currently lack a budget for this goal, I’ll focus on other goals for now. The free ones.
- Start blogging. (This was not an original goal, but seeing as how I’ve now done it, I am adding it to my list. Does anyone else out there add things they’ve already done to their to-do list? Oh. Okay.)
If you have worked on personal branding for yourself or have thoughts about my goals, please share!