Let’s talk about personal branding.
To be honest, the phrase makes me cringe a bit – it sounds awfully pretentious and self-absorbed. And while you won’t ever hear me talking about “my personal brand,” I have come to find value in this idea of being intentional about how you present yourself
– particularly online.
Who am I?
Humans are complex – we have lots of different identities, all of which come together to make each of us unique. It is important to me that those who I encounter, whether in-person or online, have some insight into what makes me tick. I am keenly aware of my unique position as an early-career academic in a leadership role, who also happens to be a mom of three. My successes have not always come easily
; and although I often feel like I’m juggling with fire, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Knowing that some of my students may look to me as they think about their own lives ahead, I know I would do a great disservice to them if I wasn’t transparent about both the highs and the lows of this journey. It feels most natural to shed some light onto these experiences during one-on-one conversations or even in the classroom, but there’s also room for us to share our humanity in online spaces as well.
Blending Personal and Professional
If you don’t know about #EpiTwitter
yet, I highly recommend exploring this great piece
from our PROspective archives, followed by time spent touring many of its incredible rabbit holes. My own Twitter account
was created only after learning about #EpiTwitter, and even with the promise of great epidemiology content, I was reluctant to join. I began with just two followers (both of whom were my mom!) and I spent the first several months as a lurker
. Over time, I became more comfortable sharing my own thoughts and made the decision to include content that was both professional and personal in nature. My posts are most often related to epidemiology
highlights, civic engagement
, and my creative outlet
. Perhaps my favorite are the crossover posts – where parenting meets epidemiology
. Certainly, these topics don’t capture everything about me, but they provide a window into who I am as a person – not just as a professional.
Risk vs. Reward
Social media has taken over both personal and professional spheres – and although there are many downsides to its pervasiveness, interacting with professionals on places like Twitter and LinkedIn can afford us a range of opportunities that we’d miss in non-virtual spaces. Among these are the opportunities to engage with professional organizations
, connect with potential collaborators at other institutions, keep up with current debates in the field, and even unique ways to advocate for ourselves
There is no recipe for a fail-safe way to create your personal brand, however this article
does include a few concrete steps you can take as you think about how you present yourself online. While there is certainly some risk in blurring the lines between your personal and professional selves, there can also be great reward.
Above all: just be yourself – you are enough and have a lot to offer.