Sunday, 3 July 2011

Thing 3 - Consider your personal brand

“Laura Steel's image is a bit severe and outdated, and there's a SLIGHT air of smuttiness about her…”

This isn’t me, in case you were wondering. It turns out that I share my name with several people, one of whom happens to be a pop singer-songwriter from Sheffield.

This is not me

I found when I Googled myself as part of the task for this Thing that most of the results thrown up were not of me, but people with my name. I feel that this makes creating some sort of coherent online identity even more important, so that any results relating to me personally are clearly identifiable.

Part of me distrusts the concept of branding, whether it’s used for products or people. I’m not a big fan of the term as it smacks of corporate-speak. I don’t want or intend to lie, and I want my online presence to reflect my real personality. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting some sort of coherence to your online identity, and trying to make your online presence reflect the way you want to be portrayed. After all, we use our CVs to present us in the best possible light.

Things to consider:

Name used: I’ve always preferred frivolous usernames to my real name, mainly because they are more imaginative, although I can definitely see the advantages to using your real name on professional networks. I tend to use a different username for any sites that I’m a member of in a purely personal capacity. I am happy to display my real name on Twitter, LinkedIn and my blog, although my actual Twitter username only incorporates my first name. I originally had a different (and even sillier) username but when I started my blog I called it Palely Loitering, inspired by a poem by Keats, and wanted to change my Twitter name to reflect this. Sadly PalelyLoitering was already taken so I opted for PalelyLaura, which with hindsight I’m happy with as I think incorporating your real name into your username makes sense. Mind you, there are about 11359257 library and information professionals called Laura so I’m not sure how helpful this actually is. I like the name Palely Loitering as it makes me think of someone mooching dreamily around a library full of old books. I hope that my name conveys that I am interested in nineteenth-century literature. Of course, it could just imply that I am massively pretentious.

Photograph: I feel the same way as several other librarians who have already blogged about Thing 3 – I am massively vain and not photogenic in the slightest! The photo I use across all my platforms is the only photo of myself I actually like and it was taken three years ago. I’m not sure how appropriate it is for me to use a picture of myself at a house party in evening dress, but it’s staying until I can find a better one! I think it makes sense to have the same photo on everything so that I am easily identifiable.

Professional/personal identity: I do have accounts on several websites and forums which are nothing to do with librarianship and on which I don’t use my real name. The exception is Facebook, which I use purely as a way of keeping in touch with friends. An employer could find me on Facebook (if they could be bothered to wade through the list of Laura Steels) but they wouldn’t be able to access any part of my profile except my picture. I think LinkedIn is the only one of my accounts on which I take a purely professional approach. I love the word ‘profersonal’ and would apply it to my Twitter account and blog. While I made the decision that any post on my blog would concentrate on LIS and related issues, I do use an informal tone and bring personal elements into it. As far as Twitter is concerned, I use it for a mixture of personal and professional purposes. Almost everyone who follows me is a librarian, though the people I follow are a mixture of librarians, friends and other accounts such as theatres and news organisations. Since I have several friends on Twitter it would be a bit unnatural if I tried to make my account wholly professional, and I don’t see the need – I want to engage with people as a human being, not as a robot. Anyway, I get far too involved with the Eurovision Song Contest not to tweet wildly about it!

Visual brand: I have tried to think about how I want my blog and Twitter background to look. When I first joined Twitter I Googled to find a better background and spent a little time tweaking it to make it look good. I also did the same with my Blogger background. I’m really not a fan of the bland corporate look and I want both my blog and Twitter account to have a historical, old-fashioned and slightly vintage feel. I love the way Girl in the Moon has given her Twitter account and blog a unique look and I also really like StEvelin’s blog background incorporating a picture of Bolsover Castle floor. Joeyanne’s penguin is truly awesome and it would be brilliant to have a logo that could be used on everything from blogs to business cards – although I haven’t the faintest idea of what a logo of mine might consist of!

I would like to find some sort of background that I can use on both Twitter and my blog and this is definitely something that is going on my to-do list.


When I Googled my name I found out that there were several Laura Steels, including the aforementioned singer (not me), an Assistant Editor at the Kensington & Chelsea Review (definitely not me), and an actress, writer and theatre director (not me either, but I kind of wish it was). Nothing to do with me appears until the eighth page, and then it’s my Palely Loitering blog. Nothing else appears until page 15 where I can find my profile on the LISNPN forum.

When I Googled ‘Laura Steel library’, I got a bit of a shock, as my LinkedIn profile appears as result number one. I haven’t really paid much attention to LinkedIn beyond listing my jobs and qualifications and adding most of my Sheffield MA colleagues to my network. However, if this is the first thing an employer will see about me then this suggests I need to pay it a little more attention. Luckily LinkedIn is covered in Thing 6.

Later on the first page appears a Tweet that I posted last year about the fire alarm going off at work. Not my Twitter account – just this Tweet. I have no idea why this might be the case!

Right at the bottom of page 1 is a link to an article I had published last year in Relay on Digital asset management in university libraries and information services. On page 2, there is a link to the trainee visits page on the CATALOG website for Cambridge graduate trainee librarians which contains my write-ups of visits to the University Library and the Scott Polar Research Institute. Also on page 2 is the lanyrd page for the New Professionals Conference 2011. My Palely Loitering blog and Blogger user profile make page 3, while my Twitter account makes page 4.

Overall I'm happy with these results (though I remain slightly bewildered by the appearance of that fire alarm tweet) and there's nothing there I wouldn't want an employer to see.

Optional extra activity

Well, here goes... secretly hoping that everyone's already moved on to Thing 4, I'll ask... what do you think? What have I got right and what have I got wrong? What does my online presence say about me? All comments welcome!


lisbritt said...

Your page looks lovely. The design is a perfect match for Palely Loitering. The photo doesn't really match though. It is a nice (if a little stern) photo but maybe something with a touch of 19th century romanticism. The photo thing is so difficult! Anyway, great-looking blog.

StEvelin said...

I enjoyed your amusing and thoughtful post (not least because it had a link to my own blog! (Ta)). I think the design of your blog is great, and certainly fits the Palely Loitering title. I also think it's a brilliant photo that you use. I would use it just as much if it were me! Perhaps you should steal the identity of the actress/writer/director though...