A tool to generate an unusual, graphical representation of your digital footprint and some interesting reflections on the use, usefulness and uselessness of online information. It’s fun and thought provoking, what are you waiting for…?



“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

I’m not Apple. I’m not Beckham. I’m not a billion pound multinational or slick celebrity, quite the opposite in fact. I’m a bit geeky and find it awkward to accept a compliment. The term ‘personal branding’ conjures up ideas of shameless mass marketing that just feel wrong to me and I certainly don’t see myself embracing personal branding at the level encouraged by the Personal Branding Network. Reading the blogs of other cpd23 participants I can see that I’m not alone here. I do however appreciate that as a new professional I have an identity, a brand, a reputation and if I don’t actively manage it then I’m passing up opportunities for career development and exposing myself to the risk that my public image is misrepresenting me to the world or possibly even damaging my professional reputation. The importance of consistency and the threat of negativity were also cautions that echoed across a number of the posts I read (In the End I Want to be Able to Say I Contributed More Than I Criticized, Manage your brand as a librarian, Controlling your public appearance).

I read a few reports from a panel discussion on personal branding at the 2011 ALA midwinter conference and the themes really rang true for me, particularly Personal branding for new librarians. Putting the hype and marketing speak to one side, personal branding means understanding your values, what drives you as a professional and where you want to go in your career and then finding and reaching out to people with similar ideas and goals. As Stephen Bell argues so well in The WHY of Your Brand without this understanding of your core values, you can’t build trust, authenticity, relationships or professional integrity. As a new professional this idea is quite daunting and I think it will take time and experience to get to the point where the “why” is as clear the “what”.

Having an unusual work history I was encouraged to come across so many articles which emphasise stepping away from traditional job descriptions and career ladders and building your brand around capabilities, expertise and successes (The Brand called You, The CEO of ME: 10 Personal Online Branding Tips). I noted a lot of ideas from Dorie Clark’s Reinventing Your Personal Brand including developing a “feature-benefit” narrative to ensure my career transition is logical and coherent to others.

With so much to think about I was quite happy to turn my attention to the practical. The discussion points in the cpd23 Thing 3: Consider your personal brand post along with How to ruin (or build) your personal brand, 5 basic things you should be doing to manage your online reputation and You already have a brand! Here are 5 ways to influence it gave me plenty to of places to start.

For me the biggest issue was choosing to keep my personal identity personal. I’ve thought a lot about it and have chosen to use a separate “persona” for my professional blog and twitter account. My friends don’t want to get tweets about revelations in the world of library and information science and other professionals don’t need to know about the gig I went to on Friday night. I’m not adverse to “letting my personality out” in my professional life but I like to have boundaries.

On this note I’ve chosen a name which I think reflects a little of my personality but is solely reserved for professional use. I use it consistently across the online networks I participate in and I’ve also reserved it in popular networks I don’t currently use to prevent an “evil twin” tarnishing my reputation online.

As for image I’ve gone with a gravatar. If I ever find a photo of me I like which is suitably formal then I’ll happily use it here! Until then I’ve tried to use the same gravatar across all platforms so I’m more recognisable in the virtual world.

Taking control of your digital footprint seems to be the strongest piece of advice in any of the articles I read. As expected a web search for unlicensedlibrarian returned no surprise hits. It’s a new username and I checked it when I created my blog. My name is a different story. It’s unusual in the UK but seems to be more popular in the USA where you might mistake me for a miniature horse breeder, numerous medical professionals, a petty criminal or a pastors wife. Super. Despite that, my LinkedIn profile is the first hit on and the third on and all the hits that related specifically to me were positive and mostly current. I only found one redundant profile which I have since deleted. I’ve also set up Google and Twitter search alerts to monitor for new mentions of myself or my namesakes.

Every article advocates a well maintained LinkedIn profile and they’ve got me on that one. I know mine needs work and it’s top of the to do list now I know it’s the first thing people will see if they Google my name.

Engage. Be social. Well, by participating in cpd23 and other professional networks I’ve made a start at creating content and scattering breadcrumbs online so I’m putting those steps in the ‘in progress’ tray. Dave Fleet’s challenge to reach out to someone you admire is a great idea. My first thought was “wow, that’s strong” but in hindsight I think I’ve already done that once without thinking about it and had a really positive experience.

Get out and meet people. I’ll finish with this one. All the articles I read mention this last but I think it really is the most important. If you take the person out of personal branding… well, there’s not much of value left!

Thing 1 and Thing 2…

“These Things will not bite you. They want to have fun.” Then, out of the box Came Thing Two and Thing One…

                             Dr Seuss. (1957) The Cat in the Hat

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging and Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

A true master of procrastination I’ve spent an age choosing a blog platform, agonising over the finer points of my colour scheme, jumping ahead and reading Thing 3, going back to square one, and focus-grouping a revised shortlist of blog titles with my work colleagues to decide if they reflect my real-world persona. I feel like I’ve learnt so much already before I’ve even got started with the real work.

I’m a Biochemist turned Legal Information Specialist with a somewhat unusual sequence of travel and work in between. I’ve no formal Library or Information Studies qualification and I work in a corporate environment which skews my professional focus. For me the cpd23 programme is a great opportunity to develop a better understanding of the wider LIS community. I’m also appreciative of any opportunity to develop my professional skills. While some of the 23 things are tools I’m familiar with, many are not so I hope to learn (and share) some new ideas along the way.

Thanks Katie Birkwood for the link in your Thing 1 post to  ‘Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about library blogs and blogging!’ Not only was it everything I needed to know to get this blog started, but it was also engaging and easy to follow. So much so that I spent the best part of an evening reading around the rest of thewikiman’s site.

thewikiman’s list of essential blog subscribes for New Professionals at the bottom of the post proved a great starting point for Thing 2. Widely respected blogs covering all aspects of LIS will undoubtedly broaden my professional horizons.

Like many others without the tags I wouldn’t have known where to begin browsing the  the voluminous cpd23 participants list. Pragmatic as always, I decided to focus on bloggers with a legal or corporate background in the hope of sharing ideas and experiences more relevant to my work. However my curiosity has on occasion got the best of me. Some of the blogs in my blogroll (like Bilbliosaurus Rex) caught my attention with unusual titles that demanded further investigation.


A self-confessed “web voyeur” I use 2.0 technologies every day to gather information and keep up with the goings-on of others yet I have hesitated to put myself out there online, particularly in a professional capacity.

Out of office hours I remain fairly analogue in my social interactions. I call rather than text. I facebook, but only people who I’d see or speak to regularly anyway. I need feedback. I like to ask questions. I feel like things get done more efficiently in person. I’m uneasy over the potential for a one-sided interaction and the thought of being “read” by complete strangers.

It’s easy to question the value of my voice among so many great Library and Information blogs. It’s obvious that I will learn so much from others with more experience in LIS or 2.0 (and already have) but I’m not sure yet what I might be able to offer in return.

Perhaps worst of all, it’s been said that my sense of humour is a little offbeat (my jokes seem to make people furrow their brow and ask “what?” rather than laugh). If people don’t “get me” in person then what chance do I have in the virtual world!

When I first investigated the process of CILIP certification and began to appreciate the level of reflective practice required I decided a blog was the ideal forum for documenting my professional development. That was almost two years ago and notes still pile up in a folder after each training course, my ideas shared only within my team or with those I meet during training, events or the course of my work.

So thank you cpd23 for the push I needed to forget the excuses, hit enter and join the blogosphere. There’s no turning back now…