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Personal Brand Camp 2

March 3, 2010

Personal Brand Camp 2 was an in person/online conversation on, surprise surprise, personal branding.  Organized by social media professor, Michael Cayley, #pbcamp2 invited industry mentors, students and passersby to participate in an exciting exchange of ideas.  The event not only provided everyone in attendance with a fantastic opportunity for networking but also helped many students along their paths towards creating unique personal brands.  Although the full benefit of the camp stemmed from its participatory nature, you’re sure to find some great advice towards creating/refining your personal brand within this collection of the camp’s exchange.

Feel free to add any comments you have.  This conversation never ends.

For all the “grammatically-oriented people out there”, the conversations looked at here took place largely over Twitter, so leave your hang-ups at home.  Nonetheless, in an attempt to cover myself, I’m going to lob in a big “[sic]” that applies to the entire post.


Questions Tabled

  1. How do I brand myself when I have many different interests?
  2. How do I know what my personal brand is if I don’t know what I want to do?
  3. What do PR employers look for in a personal brand?
  4. What do you want to be famous for?
  5. How do I keep morals and ethics out of my personal brand?
  6. Is online personal branding essential to a successful career?  How true is the statement “if you can’t be found in google, you don’t exist”?
  7. How do I soar like a creative eagle when I am a turkey in applied graphical arts? (creative)
  8. How do I elevate my brand to Elmer Fudd status? endearing — yet feared. How do I stand out, get recognized, be “remarkable” etc? (positioning)
  9. How lucrative is having a well established personal brand? What are the competitive advantages in PR?
  10. How do I remain authentic?…. I hate sell-outs.
  11. How do you balance different aspects of your life online ? Do you need to focus on one aspect for your brand?
  12. Do the main components of personal branding happen over a blog and Twitter? What are other ways to build up a personal brand online?
  13. How do I establish credibility as a young person?
  14. Does the concept of “bad branding” create personal censorship?
  15. How can I effectively develop a personal brand through social media while still protecting my online identity?
  16. What are simple, effective Social Media Optimization routines that I can adopt?
  17. Can a personal brand limit me? What if I do it wrong?
  18. Are there “types” of personal brands?
  19. How do you/can you manage online profiles that are exclusively personal during your professional career?
  20. Where do you draw the line between professional and personal online branding?

Question 1 – How do I brand myself when I have many different interests?

Adrian Capobianco – “Personal brand is a perceived set of values and it is critical to make sure you understand YOUR value/s and how they are perceived by others.” @AKthe5th – “Let your persoinality shine through. no matter your interests, people appreciate authentic excitement on your fave topics!”

Casey Mundy – “The main thing I learned at personal brand camp is that you don’t need to pick a specific interest right now and make it your personal brand for your entire professional career. More than 1 mentor pointed out to me that everyone has multiple interests and so unless you are completely confident about the path you want to take, you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself. I am going to keep my own personal brand somewhat general so that I can blog about many of my different interests. It was also cool to learn that if you do indeed have 1 major interest you want to focus on you can always write a ‘guest blog’ to encapture a different topic. I liked how the mentors made it clear that recruiters are people too and they want to know about our interests and what makes us stand out! One mentor suggested including pictures and videos with our resumes- something i hadn’t thought about previously.”

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Question 2How do I know what my personal brand is if I don’t know what I want to do?

Bhupesh Shah – “Your personal brand will be who you are – what represents you – the image and feeling one gets when they think of you. It’s not “what your personal brand is” – you determine what that is through your positioning.  Personal brand is not about what u like – it’s about who u are. You have a “theme” in terms of what your interests are. Ladder up and try to define who you are at your core. Keep going higher and higher to define who you are.”

Caterina Ventrella – “Pbcamp taught me I don’t have to be an expert to join the online convo.Instead, be real, connect & add value.”

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Question 3What do PR employers look for in a personal brand?

Terry Fallis – “To me, authenticity in your personal brand is key. I want to know that your personal brand reflects the “real you ” and is not a carefully concocted artiface.”

Joseph Thornley – “Vulnerability is the key to an authentic personal brand.”

Aneeta Parmar – “Employers look for value-added online presence. Being critical is encouraged. Don’t be a “yes” person.”

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Question 4What do you want to be famous for?

Question 4 was a hot topic on Twitter.  Some contributers thought that “famous for” should have been substituted with “known for” or “respected for”.  While the responses were diverse, I felt the most poignant response came from Rick Weiss, who pointed out that “a personal brand isn’t a limiting checklist. Anyone who’s approaching it that way is missing out.”

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Question 5How do I keep morals and ethics out of my personal brand?

Bhupesh Shah – “You shouldn’t – morals and ethics are part of what makes you who you are.”

Merrill Matthews – “Our table discussion came to the same conclusion…You shouldn’t keep your morals and ethics out of personal brand because your personal brand is who you are.”

As Erin Bury quoting Scott Stratten – “Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want on a billboard with your name next to it and your mom staring at it.”

Video of Erin Bury, community manager for Sprouter, on morals and ethics in personal brands.

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Question 6Is online personal branding essential to a successful career? How true is the statement “if you can’t be found in google, you don’t exist”?

Joseph Thornley – “People will find you if you have content.  Passion is a way to stand out. Talk about what interests u and it will show through.  There are always ppl who will be interested in the real you.”

Kristy Beaulieu – “Start to talk about what interests you – BLOG, BLOG, BLOG!” Focus on what your post will do for you.”

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Question 7How do I soar like a creative eagle when I am a turkey in applied graphical arts? (creative)

April Dunford, speaking about the types of tools available.

Michael Cayley‘s main take away points: “a) the tools are very easy to use and sourcing great visuals, etc is easy but still few make that effort. b) just do it. you will discover little methods, tricks and routines that your community will begin to recognize as yours. keep up the trial and error until your unique elements emerge apparent.”

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Question 8 – How do I elevate my brand to Elmer Fudd status? endearing — yet feared. How do I stand out, get recognized, be “remarkable” etc? (positioning)

Promod Sharma –  “To stand out, start with a social media audit to make sure you’re consistent and up to date.  In blogging, how do you stand out? Many others write about the same topic.  Add your personal experiences (which are unique by definition).  You’ll evolve over time.  To be memorable, be specific. Use less common words. Avoid cliches.  How are you helping others?  That makes your brand look good and stand out.  We’re seen at our best when you help others.  To stand out on LinkedIn, complete your profile to 100% (photo, add contacts, give recommendations, get testimonials, answer questions).  Quality of your contacts matter more than how many.  Testimonials need not be only from people you worked for.  Join groups.  Make your profile detailed so you’re more likely to show up in searches.  Make your content easy to read.”

@sayurie84 – “Consistency is key! Keep your avatar & voice the same across social media platforms and you will be recognized!”

Mr. Sharma has also created a great blog post to help further this discussion.

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Question 9 – How lucrative is having a well established personal brand? What are the competitive advantages in PR?

To start off, George ONeill points out that you don’t separate yourself from your on-line brand because it is about being authentic.  “Do you know your mission? If so, this can help you define your personal brand. The starting point is knowing yourself.  Connect at a personal level on-line.  Be consistent with your messaging so your brand can be communicated.  [On being lucrative] I have not seen an RFP in the past year that does not contain a Social Media Marketing component as a requirement.”

Shannon Morton – put forward this great article by Helen Obourne, written for The Guardian.

Ujwal Arkalgud – “I’ve gotten employed and have met some amazing people only after I started paying attention to my personal brand.”

Mr. ONeill further elaborated on the topic with many great insights so make sure to check out the entire transcript.

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Question 10 – How do I remain authentic?…. I hate sell-outs.

Eden Spodek – “Be yourself – be true to yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to lay everything about you online for others to read but you need to be honest and consistent. Once of biggest compliments I’ve received is when people who meet me for the first time aren’t disappointed because my online and real life personalities are the same. Often people are disappointed when they meet people in real life who are nothing like how they portray themselves online.”

Zoey Fiksel – “Listen before your jump in.”

Joseph Thornley – “To be authentic you need to be vulnerable, be real, be human.”

Mary Jo< – “Keeping your core values is key to your authenticity.  Remain true to yourself; not everyone will like your brand.”

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Question 11 – How do you balance different aspects of your life online ? Do you need to focus on one aspect for your brand?

Kathryn Boland – “Even if you are talking abt same subjects as everyone else, doesn’t mean you can’t position it your own way.  Our personal brand is our mini empire and should include everything about you.”

Bhupesh Shah – “Is it positive to be defined by one aspects like art? or photography?  Yes but what if u change?  Better to be defined by who you are – ur core.”

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Question 12 – Do the main components of personal branding happen over a blog and Twitter? What are other ways to build up a personal brand online? (channels)

David Bradfield‘s PowerPoint on Personal Branding.

David Bradfield – “Starting your online brand is about starting with what u know.”

Ed Lee – “Add value and show your smarts. Many people try to do #2 but neglect to do #1.”

It is important that you fully utilize any social media channel you chose to be a part of, however, watch that you don’t spread yourself too thin.  Pick which medium works best for you and run with it.  Social media is supposed to cater itself to your life, not the other way around.

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Question 13How do I establish credibility as a young person?

>Jacqueline Clarke – “Say yes to everything! You are never too young and you never know what kind of opportunity will be thrown your way.”

>Erin B – “Honesty, Engagement & the drive to always learn more!”

Shane Fallowfield– “Building credibility when you’re young means sticking up for your opinions.  Establish your viewpoints, and your opinion.  Academics is key; stay with the school and help as much as you can.  You can get overwhelmed but just have to find the balance.  You have to take small steps to build on your career.  Give it your all, all the time.  Early on, the cost/benefit will be tilted, but you have to work your ass off for it to pay-off.  Immersion in social media is key.”<

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Question 14Does the concept of “bad branding” create personal censorship?

Ujwal Arkalgu – “No. If ur doing that then your personal brand doesn’t represent your true identity. A brand’s essence has to be real.”

>Eden Spodek – “We censor or edit almost everything we do. It doesn’t mean we’re dishonest or not being transparent. Different places and people may shape how we share or expose our thoughts and ideas.”

katy – “This is 2 questions. 1 – yes, “bad branding” does create personal censorship.  2 – assuming that you are concerned about bad branding enough to self-censor, the limits that you place on yourself MAY negatively impact your personal brand capital.”

Andrew Murphy – “Do you mean, “Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something foolish because you worry that other people will think that you’re an idiot?”  It depends on the context: Is it something I really want to do?  Do I care if I look like an idiot?”

MrGamma – “Of course it does. When we brand we make a conscious effort to appeal to a specific type of client. Very rarely do we make an attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator, like lets say, Google.”

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Question 15How can I effectively develop a personal brand through social media while still protection my online identity?

Question 15 sparked a great back and forth conversation.  It would be hard to pick and choose a selection of quotes because it would be taking away from the exchange of ideas. Check out the transcript and search for the Twitter hashtag #pbcq15 for an insight into the dialogue.

The main points to take away are that in today’s level of online exposure, it becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish one’s personal and public lives.  Ultimately, what you chose to publish is limited only to your personal discretion. Scott Stratten‘s recomendation to not “say anything online that you wouldn’t want on a billboard with your name next to it and your mom staring at it” certainly comes into play here.

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Question 16What are simple, effective Social Media Optimization routines that I can adopt?

RobCampbell – “Hyperlink your name and include a popular search term that is your business; so I might write Smojoe web stories to eventually rank for the term ‘web stories’.  Know your own keywords, and your client’s keywords and anchor your media to those search terms as much as possible.”

Mr. Campbell offers up a first hand account of his experiences leading the conversation at table 16 alongside fellow mentor Deborah Weinstein with a great blog post.

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Question 17Can a personal brand limit me? What if I do it Wrong?

Simren Deogun – “The point of the personal brand is to carve out a focused identity and then build around it. If you’re unsure of that identity, of the core of your career path, then limitations and damage are certainly possible. Introspection is the key. Determine first who you are professionally and where you want to go, with those pieces in place you will realize how versatile even a highly specified brand can be!”

Zach Bussey – “For me, my personal brand is professional and personal. Not always at the same time, but they are both there. My brand is firmly in the social media arena, and the key word is social. I interact with everyone and love doing it. What you see in my Twitter stream is mostly personal conversations. What you don’t see is that I’m establishing business relationships in DMs. I’m not afraid to be honest and open about any conversation that comes up, because people have come to learn that it’s what I am. I’m honest. I’m direct. Both in personal and business relationships.”

Julie Tyios – “So far, we’ve had some great conversations about whether or not a personal brand can be limiting. Some personal brand pros suggest you should keep the door open as a blanket approach, covering as much ground as possible, whereas others say you should limit yourself to one or two subjects of interest so as not to dilute your message. How do you juggle multiple interests? Is it okay to occasionally divert from your main focus to create other conversations? Where do you draw the line?”

Question 17 drew quite a bit of great feedback and insight.  For some great tips on developing a personal brand that will help your career, make sure to check out the conversation’s transcript along with the Twitter hashtag #pcbq17.

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Question 18Are there “types” of personal brands?

Neil Sareen – “Are there “types” of personal brands? According to what I took away from Paul Cupcott’s thoughts, yes, there are “types” of personal brands because everyone has something that is unique to them. Whether it is a particular passion or just a simple quirk, it is up to you to decide how you will best exude and live out your brand.”

Nadine Rashad – “A common approach to discovering your personal brand is to find the overlapping aspects of your target audience, internal components and external components. This will point you towards your “type” of personal brand.”

Paul Copcutt – “My thought is there are not types because we are all unique.”

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Question 19How do you/can you manage online profiles that are exclusively personal during your professional career?

Julie Tyios – “I keep my personal life offline. No matter how hard you try, everything online is subject to public scrutiny.”

Casie Stewart – “I keep my personal Tweets/blogging/fb updates during the day to a minimum (which for me is still more than most people!). Because my work is using social media, if my work isn’t finished, everyone can see why. It’s important to not abuse the freedom of social media during work, it’s the first place people will look if you’re not doing a good job. Also, make sure your boss/work peeps are on limited profile if you don’t want them to see all your photos/updates etc. I have heaps of FB friends but most are on limited. My tagged photos are also not seen my most people. FB has privacy setting for a reason, USE THEM! If you want to build your personal brand & work in social media, you have to be real & authentic and I think it’s good to show your personal side. I don’t talk about relationships/dating but being open and sharing is what has build a following for me.”

Fabrice Calandooffers up a blog post written by Darren Rowse, addressing the battle of personal vs. public as played out on Facebook.  A great read, check it out here.

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Question 20Where do you draw the line between professional and personal online branding?

When it comes to drawing a line, context is everything.  In this case, context could be a physical place or a mind set.  Many contributers agreed that differnt social platforms should be published with different ratios of professional to personal content.  While Facebook is seen as more of a place for the personal, many feel that Twitter should be more business oriented.  Context also plays a role in how shared information is viewed.  As social creatures, we obviously filter ourselves depending on the context.  This is by no means being fake.  Think of all the various people in your lives and how you act, dress, and hold yourselves when communicating with them.  You are still you even if you don’t divulge to your boss that you for some reason tend to eat chocolate when you’re bored. Employers understand that great potential employees will have both professional and social lives.  They want to see the personal to know that you’re a good person.  It is impossible to draw a line in the sand between the two, but with everything in life, balance and moderation are key.

Connie Crosby did a fantastic job of transcribing Question 20’s exchange.  Make sure to check it out.

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Check out some of Personal Brand Camp 2’s moments caught on film

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2010 8:44 pm

    Good breakdown of the Personal Brandcamp 2 event; i had forgotten my little tip on question #16 and smiled when i reread it. I hope it makes sense, and btw I absolutely love the name of your blog.

    • April 19, 2010 8:54 pm

      Hey Rob, I’m glad it you enjoyed it. I really appreciated you coming into our class the other week to speak. My note taking ability tried its best to keep up with you but you run a mile a minute. None the less, I picked up an insane amount of awesome tips and I can’t wait to find some time to apply them.

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