People are asking for Personal Branding workshops a lot at the moment. And every time a request comes in, this image momentarily flies into mind:
I’ve puzzled why this demand is so current, and think it may be do with this idea from Mark Schaefer author of ‘The Tao of Twitter’.
‘The social web tends to amplify personal characteristics’.
We might add ‘reduce’ personal characteristics here too, as when we sign up for social networking, we fit content about ourselves into the architecture of the application: likes and dislikes on Facebook, short announcements on Twitter and what groups we join on Linked-In.
We are fitting definition of ourselves to a format and I suspect many of us are asking:
‘Online, how do I make who I am simpler but louder?’
And the aim of many of us will be to depict ourselves in as vivid and appealing a way to people we share common ground with – who can help us, or who we can help – and to reach as many of these folk as we can…
So to an extent we are impersonalizing ourselves, reducing ourselves to characteristics we hope others will recognize and like: being open, opinionated, warm and helpful maybe…
Now there is a denial of complexity here, which is usually present in television, and frequent during the news: ‘Whoa, here comes the President/Prime Minister giving us 3 minutes on the global banking crisis’
And when we reduce ourselves to what we think the outside world judges to be attractive, we can lose confidence about qualities we possess which are outside the norm. We won’t dare to mention that we are going deaf, have reached size 20 and don’t give a fig about hair removal.
Human = Interest
Which is why I urge any of you who like a provocative read to tackle You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Landier, computer scientist. Profound and revelatory, it examines the links between the web and such qualities as humanism, empathy and the spiritual. A manifesto, it includes guidelines for staying human – and therefore, interesting – online.
These include :
-creating content online about yourself outside of what can be created through established social networking sites
-not posting anonymously… unless you really are in danger in doing so
-making videos and blog posts occasionally that take much longer to ferment, than digest
-avoiding the idea that you are the news. Your internal state may be much more interesting.
And finally, a quote from the start of the book:
‘You have to be somebody before you can share yourself’.