Building Your "Personal SharePoint Brand"

Someone asked me this today through LinkedIn:

I’m getting more and more into the SharePoint sphere and am looking to increase my exposure to both the technology and its members. If you’ve any suggestions on any open projects or communities that I can contribute to to further both aims, I’m more than happy to receive them.

If you have similar goals, I’d recommend hanging around and/or contributing to:

I’m associated with all of these on some level, so I may be biased, but I think each is the best game in town for specific things. For me, one of the best learning mechanisms is to try to answer forum questions.  As you do this, you’ll also be building up credibility (And points that can be exchanged for valuable cash and prizes! Well, OK, just points.) and seeing what other people are struggling with.  This is basically how I came up with the idea for SPServices, and the reason that I am rich and famous now.

Building a Personal or Professional Brand on the Web – Part 2.1

While I think about my next pithy post on this topic, I thought I’d share some interesting perspectives from some of the folks I know in the blogosphere.  Seems that a lot of us are thinking about this in a meta way these days.  This is to be expected, as early adoption often resembles a Wild West mentality, and then at some point sanity kicks in and we ought to reevaluate what we’ve been up to.

Vanessa DeMauro: Maintaining Your Professional Profile: Be Fresh, Be Relevant

Mauro Cardarelli: The Responsibilities of Having an Online Identity

Mari Anne Snow: Virtual Branding – Part 1: Are You Missing the Party?

I may try to add to this set of links over time as I see interesting points of view, but I certainly won’t be trying to catalog everything out there.

Building a Personal or Professional Brand on the Web – Part 2

Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, del.icio.us, Twitter, Live Spaces — Web Pages, Web Sites — HTML, Java, jQuery, Perl — SQL, Oracle, MySQL

Oh, my.  What on earth are you to do?!?!?  These are just a few of the literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of services, applications, technologies, databases, etc. that you could run into as you start to implement your brand.

In Part 1, I talked a little bit about the fact that you need to have a good strategy before you launch your online brand.  Once you understand the parameters which makes sense for you, you can start to think about the various tools and applications you ought to use.

There are a lot of Web channels and tools out there you can use to build up your personal brand.  If the list above looks like gobbledy-gook to you, then let’s try to break it down a little.  Especially if the words above are gobbledy-gook, what you want to focus on are the applications that you can use on the Web.  That’s the first set of words above which are listed with links.

Each application provides a different set of functionality and may be targeted at different audiences.  Facebook and Twitter are in the news all the time, but are they good tools for you to use in building your own personal brand?  How many of these tools could you even manage?  Thinking through these questions is no different than understanding what “traditional” media channels made sense in the old days.  We used to have far fewer choices, and they were typically too expensive for individuals and many small businesses.  Remember radio, billboards, newspapers, brochures, and the like?  The new channels just add to the mix and usually offer far lower-cost entry points, in many cases free.

Here’s a little of my perspective on some of the major players today:

  • Twitter is for really short thoughts.  You can’t go beyond 140 characters in a single tweet.
  • Facebook (and its cousins) allow for very short thoughts (like tweets) to longer form ideas, but usually shorter than blogs.  With Facebook it is also difficult to separate personas.
  • Blogs are great for longer forms, but it’s usually transitive.  Often something you post in your blog will make perfect sense for a while and then be negated or no longer relevant (though this doesn’t have to be the case).
  • Web sites ought to be more permanent: This is who I am and why.  The information behind that statement doesn’t typically change frequently.  Web sites are also good places to plant longer form writing: position papers, book synopses, resumes, etc.
  • Everything else.  Don’t forget about the more traditional mediums; they aren’t irrelevant even with all of these online options.  We’re still reading newspapers (but there’s the GlobeReader) and paper books (but there are Kindles), we watch TV (but there are TiVos), and we listen to the radio (but there are Podcasts and streaming sites).  Traditional media isn’t gone: it’s just moving toward being digital.

Each of these types of Web applications may play a part in building your personal or professional brand on the Web.  A lot of the answers to this for you come from thinking through your online strategy, as I suggested in Part 1.

Next up: Some case studies from my circle; who is using what and why.

Building a Personal or Professional Brand on the Web – Part 1

So, you know that there are a lot of things out there on the Web that the kids are using these days to create their own Web presence, and you are wondering how to go about creating your own personal or small business “brand”.  I’ve been advising a few friends and colleagues on this lately, and it seemed like a good series of posts could come out of it.  In this and the posts to follow, I’ll talk about what a Web “brand” even means and some of the ways you can go about building one.

First of all, as with almost all things, you need to have a strategy.  What *is* your personal brand, anyway?  One person I’m working with is a fiction writer, a few others are artists, another is starting her own small consulting company, and yet another is a children’s clothing designer.  There’s no “one size fits all” answer to what a personal brand for each of these talented folks means.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  • How do you want to be known?
  • Does your brand require you to be seen as tech savvy or would that be a handicap?
  • Do you want your personal and professional brands to be separate or integrated?
  • Does your brand need to have a certain “look”?
  • How much time do you have to spend on your brand?  (Should you outsource your brand?)
  • How much money do you want to spend on your brand?

If you are part of a large organization, then you have teams of people to think all of this through for you; if you are an individual or a small business, then you’re going to have to figure it out for yourself or hire someone who can help you think it though.

Next up in Part 2: Thinking through the different Web “channels” which you can use to drive your brand.