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Archive for the ‘Social Branding’ Category

I have a confession to make. I am not a particularly good speller. My mother has been astounded and horrified by this fact for years (my father is not good at spelling either so he takes it in stride). I don’t know why I cannot spell well, I have always loved to read and have an excellent vocabulary (except perhaps in blogs where I try to write as I speak to maintain a casual cadence and tone) but I cannot spell. When I type papers for class or other assignments I tend to run the spell checker several times and try to walk away from a finished draft for a while before coming back to edit it for spelling/grammatical errors. Sometimes they slip through, and the results are always embarrassing.

Combine that weakness with the fact that I am very busy of late with class, extra-curricular organizations, a full-time job, and an attempt at maintaining a healthy social life – and you can probably imagine where this is going. I am currently the webmaster for the Rutgers Association of School Librarians (RASL) and I try to stay up to date with the group’s minutes and other important information on the website. Our current website was designed by a past webmaster who coded it herself – which is lovely but it does mean that I need to go into the code to update any portion of the text when I update. When you go into Notepad, unlike Word, WordPress, Blogger or even Gmail, no squiggly red line appears under the misspelled words. Apparently, when I last updated I misspelled career (typed too quickly and added an extra r so it was “carreer”) and typed “and, “ twice.

Then the error got really bad. My partners in crime didn’t catch the mistake when I alerted them to the site update (we need to work on promoting the site, but that’s another matter) and I updated in a hurry and so did not check so I did not see it either. I only found out about the error when my husband asked for help on redesigning his company website. He asked for some samples from my work to show his partner – so I gave him three websites I’d designed for Information Technology my first semester and the link to the RASL page so he could see that I now know how to incorporate social media buttons. So my husband sends the links to his business partner then calls him on the phone to discuss the plans. Of course M (the partner) sees the error right away and reams my husband for wanting to use someone who cannot even spell career correctly. I was mortified at my error and at the fact that he was right. Who would want to use someone who cannot properly check their work?

While a simple spelling mistake on the surface is not a huge oversight in and of itself; I began to obsess think about how open I now have to be in an effort to create a personal brand and to be active in my career network interactions. I post in class discussions several times a week, often in response to a classmate’s post and, since it is a class discussion, am less careful about using formal language and about typos than I might otherwise be for a paper or presentation. I am on Twitter for portions of the day sharing links and making comments about news stories related to library events. I am trying to be better about posting comments on blogs I read; I am on LinkedIn and have a virtual resume out for the world to see. Not to mention emails between officers in the two clubs I hold an officer position for, countless business emails, updating information in a work setting and pinning on Pinterest for myself, but still with my name attached. Anyone who wants to track me down now only has to do a Google search and I come up in several different places. In any of these environments one misspelling, badly worded phrase can affect someone’s opinion of me – of how insightful, intelligent or worthwhile I am.

Before this year I only posted on Facebook to friends, never to work colleagues who may be in a position to hire or fire me. Now I’m hyper-aware of the impression I give off with every sentence I type. I know that I am more than just a written comment or a misspelling but with everything I’m posting that is not password protected there are more chances now for a comment out of context or a typing error to come to light. Who on a hiring committee will want to read the whole of my online life if they have a few select highlights in front of them? So in a virtual world that’s always “on,” am I now the sum of my mistakes?

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Part of my evolution trajectory from graduate student to librarian is to start working on my social media branding.  It is important to start early so when I have my degree in hand I will also have a little more than a year of blogging expertise and have mastered the art of tweeting.  [Has everyone seen my Twitter feed?  Follow me if you are interesting in library and book news as I discover them throughout the day!]  As soon as you start delving into the world of social branding you find lots of advice on everything from what to put on your Facebook/ LinkedIn/Twitter profile to advice on what your profile picture should look like.

Most of the articles offer very good advice for some examples click here, here and here.  All of the articles are fairly similar and it does make one start to obsess think about about your profile pictures in ways you never had before.  Your profile picture is not just a snapshot of who you are, it is selling your brand.  Your profile picture should show you but not be too busy or have other people in the shot (unless it is an important aspect of your job to have someone in the shot with you and even then think twice), and it cannot be the wonderful picture of you on vacation from three years ago when you looked amazing. Suddenly, you realize that a seemingly simple thing is complicated beyond belief.  So I did what any strapped for cash graduate student would do – have my friend with come down to my apartment with his professional camera equipment to do a photo shoot.  It worked out well for all involved, I paid for his gas, he got to use his new camera, backdrop, and lights, and I have a contact sheet full of profile pictures to choose from.   I’ve included my before profile picture, a slideshow of the deconstructed living room and my new profile picture below.   Enjoy!

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