TweetBack Thursday: Blogging to Build Your Personal Brand

Spencer Dewald gave me suggestions for a number of blog posts. One was: “Instructing students on how to make their own blogs to employers (aka creating an internet brand that works on your behalf).

Hmm, Spencer this is something I don’t know much about. If I was smart I would let Joanne Chive, Roy Reid or Grant Heston answer this one. They are my key advisors when it comes to public relations and social media. Maybe one or more of them could provide a guest blog post on this topic or offer a rebuttal to what I’m about to write.

I don’t blog as part of a strategy to build a personal brand. As Dean, I am responsible for setting a vision for the college, communicating that vision and motivating our stakeholders to do what is necessary to realize that vision. I am also responsible for ensuring that students get the most out of their UCF College of Business experience and that alumni continue to realize a return from their degrees. I use social media, including my blog, to get my message out to Knight Nation and start conversations. I can engage people I will never have the opportunity to meet in person as well as keep the dialogue going with people I haven’t seen in a while. It is a way I can help make a large college feel small and give people a chance to interact with the person who sets the priorities for the school. The blog isn’t about me, it is about the cause: creating and sustaining a unique culture and value proposition that transforms lives through education. I stop blogging the day I no longer lead such an organization.

So my advice would be to blog to further a cause you are passionate about (or to teach someone something), not as a vehicle to build a personal brand. Maybe I’m too old school, but I don’t think it is a good idea to blog as a means of landing a job. Frankly, as a potential employer I am interested in knowing how you apply your knowledge and experience to get stuff done. Unless I am hiring you to blog or develop edgy content, blogging about your talents and experiences is likely to come off as self-absorbed, shameless self-promotion. Not helpful. Or you could write something that offends the very people you are trying to impress, also not helpful. And it may distract you from doing the stuff that will land you a job, not helpful.

Roy, Joanne and Grant, your thoughts?

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16 thoughts on “TweetBack Thursday: Blogging to Build Your Personal Brand

  1. As a UCF marketing student, I feel as though building a personal brand is really important. It helps to create an image of who exactly you are for current and future employers. That’s actually why I recently started my own personal branding and online reputation management company, Impressions Personal Branding (www.impressionspersonalbranding.com).

    It is also why I have done a few Google+ Hangouts On Air on the topic including “How to Build Your Personal Brand” and “How to Network with Google+.” Right now, I am working to make those online video presentations into in-person presentations to do on campus for students as well.

  2. I am now a rock star thanks to my appearance in this blog (I think I see paparazzi outside already)! I agree that there is a fine line between sharing insight/knowledge and just throwing things against the wall. The best blogs, Facebook pages, etc., strike a balance between informative, fun, educational and irreverent. This blog is one of those.

    For more info about how to create a popular (and meaningful) social media presence, check out this UCF resource: http://www.umark.ucf.edu/socialmedia/

  3. I definitely agree with what you said about using the blog more to further your passion about a cause, and not so much to use it as a means of landing a job. However, as far as using a blog to build a personal brand, I feel like it differs from person-to-person. I know you mentioned that you don’t use blogging as part of your strategy to build your own personal brand, but for me, I feel that my blog is a big contributor to my personal brand, as well as my presence on social media. But, as I said, it just depends on the person and also what purpose the blog intends to serve.

    Great post. I’ll share this on my Facebook and Twitter.

  4. Paul,
    This is a very timely post…I recently spoke earlier this week to college of business students in a marketing class about the value of building and managing your personal brand. I personally feel that a blog is a wonderful way to do this and have personally experienced the benefits that have come along with building my personal brand online.

    I’ve received job offers from my blog , marketing clients for my business and a variety of media interviews. Link to my blog: http://www.davidbrim.org

    I started off my talk earlier this week by asking students…Who has a brand they are currently looking to grow and make successful? Only one student’s hand arose…I mentioned to the class that everyone should have their hands up because you all have a personal brand that you should strive to develop and grow.

    Essentially every student is a product and trying to sell themselves in the marketplace. Just as with any product, differentiation and understanding your unique value proposition can enable you to demand premium pricing to a specific target market…with a personal brand this differentiation of you from the millions of other students graduating (and others in the workforce) can result in “premium pricing” in the form of a higher salary from the target market of a “specific type of employer”.

    A blog can be used to talk about interests, entertainment news, etc…but if students use a blog as a means to reveal their expertise about a specific topic and expand on what they have learned in class, as well as how they have applied what they have learned in their life / professional career / internships or start-ups they can gain respect from those looking to potentially hire them.

    Also, in today’s age it is so important to control your personal brand online…as an employer I google search potential employees I hire. What I find helps shape my perception of that person. Leveraging blogs and other online channels to control your brand helps people find what students / recent grads want them to, not other potentially harmful pieces of content like drinking / partying on a Friday night.

    Further more showing an employer that you can manage and grow your own brand online, could give them confidence in hiring you to manage and grow their company’s brand.

    I also used, and still use my blog as a validator and “online portfolio” of my accomplishments and it continues to help me open doors, receive speaking engagements, obtain interviews / attention from the press and continue to gain more clients for my marketing business.

    I hope this provides some insight on how developing a personal brand can be important for college students.

    I also wrote a blog post on this topic a while back that may be worth reading: http://davidbrim.org/build-personal-brand/

    The post also contains a prezi presentation.

    I hope all is well and look forward to connecting with you again soon!

    David Brim

    • Hi David:

      Thanks for such a thoughtful post. Managing your image is important, it is a very important part of professional life. I especially liked your comment that a blog can be used as a means to reveal a person’s expertise about a specific topic and expand on what they have learned in class, as well as how they have applied what they have learned in their life / professional career / internships or start-ups they can gain respect from those looking to potentially hire them. If you are going to do this, you need to commit to a fairly significant investment of your time: your blog (or on-line presence generally) is a reflection of who you are: it needs to be done carefully, highlight your superior communication skills, have something interesting to say, have something to say regularly etc. A poor blog (or on-line presence) is worse than having none at all…….

      • I agree with your points Paul…creating high quality “differentiating” content is much more time consuming than creating commodity content. It’s not easy within any niche to create this quality of content, but it can and does pay off if people are willing to invest the time. I do agree with your statement that “A poor blog (or on-line presence) is worse than having none at all…….” Though I do encourage people to purchase their name.com /. org or .net if they can, just in case they ever want to build it out later on. Typically it only costs $8-$10 for a domain name…and this “virtual real estate” could potentially be a valuable asset down the line if you decide to invest into it more….especially after you’ve determined your unique differentiation.

        Have a good weekend!

        DB

  5. Dean Jarley,
    I thought your Tweet back today was very thought provoking. You indicated that your intent is to use the blog to communicate your vision and to generate discussions (and not create a ‘personal brand’). It would seem to be a big success to me to the extent that you have really opened the lines of communication within the College and its extended community —- not only through your use of Web 2.0 technologies, but also through your face-to-face conversations with faculty, staff, alumni and students. I would venture to say that even though you might not intend to use the blog for impression management (the management term for what marketing folks call a personal brand), you ARE creating an impression. For me that impression is that you are thoughtful, communicative and tech-savvy.

    As I mentioned during our 30-minute session, I think that there is much that can be taught about how to use Web 2.0 tools, social media and current technologies effectively—- but the UCF CBA is not teaching this to our students —- at least not in a systematic way. As a result, our students are likely to create the impression that they are not tech-savvy — and in a high-tech world this in definitely not helpful. I would consider it akin to not knowing what ‘NPV’ is. And even if our students’ lack of understanding about how to use technology does not create a bad impression among potential employers and in the community, it precludes them from creating a good impression about their savvy in applying the technology.

    You may argue that our students are in a generation where they know how to use the technology effectively….basically by osmosis. However, a number of my students did not know how use a wiki…or even why they would want to do so. Curious about this I asked them if they had heard about cloud computing and big data — and most had not.

    I think that we are doing a real disservice to our students if we don’t do a better job of teaching them about technology. More specifically, I suggest that there be some systematic coverage of technology and important technology issues throughout the curriculum. Here are some of the things that I think it would help them to understand:

    • Social business (how you can use social media effectively for branding, communicating, networking, and collaborating)
    • System thinking (what a system is and how the parts are interconnected. This is particularly important in understanding how the different parts of an organization interface with one another and their environment.)
    • The role of data, information and knowledge in today’s world
    • Privacy in a high tech world (here is where cloud computing becomes important….. How can you ensure your most intimate thoughts are secure in a cloud?)
    • Big data and business analytics
    • Sourcing strategies
    • Aligning technology with organizational strategy (like you are doing by using your blog to communicate your vision)

    I, of course could go on….but fortunately for you I won’t. I hope that you can understand my concern that by not introducing our students to technology in an organized way we are increasing the likelihood that the impressions they create will not be good and they definitely won’t be helpful. Even worse, we are not equipping them to work effectively in today’s — and tomorrow’s— dynamic, hi-tech world.
    Carol Saunders

    • Hi Carol:

      Thanks for the very thoughtful response and the kind words. There is a great deal that I agree with in this email and I think “tech savvy” is one of those characteristics that could be among the three qualities that could differentiate our students. You give some excellent examples of how this could be weaved into the fabric of the curriculum and I think this is certainly worth considering. We claim to offer our programs in a technology advanced setting, it would seem an obvious extension of our efforts to also ensure that they are tech savvy.

  6. I think as technology continues to advance and the job market remains so competitive, people are constantly looking for new ways to stand out from the competition. Creating a blog is one way to do so. A blog can definitely complement your job search especially in particular fields such as marketing, communications or advertising.

    If you choose to start a blog to build a personal brand, it is essential that it is free of typos or grammatical errors, includes current information, and is relevant to your field. Blogs may also be helpful for students who are just entering their career that don’t have a lot of work experience. As Dave Brim suggests, they can be used to showcase your work and include an online portfolio.

    If you decide to use a blog to help with a job search, be sure to leave off information or photos that may be offensive or damaging to your reputation. It seems like an obvious piece of advice, but it is amazing how many students post things on their Facebook pages or other social media tools that could haunt them in the future. Also…when naming your blog, make sure to stay professional and don’t name it something too controversial or “cute.”

  7. Thanks for the props Dr. Jarley…I am honored to be on the list. The beautiful thing about blogging is that it provides an opportunity for you to express your passion, create a venue for discussions, and positioning yourself as a thought leader or a catalyst in the marketplace of ideas. The key to blogging is passion, authenticity, and consistency. You first must be passionate about something, or understand the “why” you are blogging. Then you have to deliver the information in your voice…not some kind of “corporate speak” or jargon…people want to make a real connection when they read a blog…its a conversation. Finally, you have to be consistent. Once you start, people will want to know when and where they can find you. Otherwise they will quickly lose interest. A really good book to read is Seth Godin’s Tribes, as it illustrates how people gather around ideas, and through the advent of social media you have the capacity to become a thought leader and bring people together. Be intentional and meaningful in your pursuit of a blog and be ready for a conversation.

  8. As far as blogs go, I feel like having one may or may not help you, but it definitely could hurt you if it is done/ managed poorly. There’s a lot of variables to take into consideration.

    With regards to technology in business- I totally agree with Carol. Just knowing how to work Instagram and send a tweet on Twitter does not make someone “tech savvy”. Technology even goes beyond knowing how to code or use different AIS systems. Right now, we (the CBA) aren’t offering enough of this in the curriculum. The invested, interested, students are the ones finding these items online, learning through guided instruction they pay for separately, or are self-teaching. While I argue these are the students who are actively trying to differentiate themselves, our curriculum could do a better job of including more tech applications, and explaining how and why XYZ is relevant.

    Along those lines…. a great place to look to learn new applications is at UCF’s Continuing Education website: http://www.ce.ucf.edu/ [Don’t be thrown by the “regional campus” title- there’s lots of good stuff!!]

  9. Pingback: David Brim responds to his Dean regarding blogging… | daytonabizdoc

  10. Reblogged this on wadsonjoseph and commented:
    Wadson Joseph
    Lab Instructor: Richard Quinn
    Section – D017
    Summer 2014

    People are always looking for the best way to advance in their lives. However, nothing never come easy without any challenges. The challenges test people’s wiliness and dedication to accomplish something long desired and dreamed of. In my case, I have been tested by several adversities. Sometimes, I feel strongest with the desire to keep going. Other times, I feel beaten, discouraged with the desire to give up. Either way, I always found a reason to reinvent myself, dust up my shoulders and keep going.
    I am originally from Haiti. In the Haitian culture, parents, which much of them don’t have a formal education, hope that one day their kids can become someone educated. My parents used to live in a very remote small town with only one school sponsored by an international Christian mission. The school only offered elementary education. My parents, with the burning desire to push their children to accomplish something big, sent me and all my brothers and sisters to study in the capital where we can have access to higher education. It was eight of us; were very excited about the opportunity. My parents did not have a formal education; however, they had big visions for their children.
    Before I even finished my high school education, my father always told me that he wanted me to become a medical doctor. I didn’t know why my father wanted me to become a doctor, however, I was very excited with the aspiration to become a doctor. After my high school graduation, I got into the only stated sponsored medical school to make my parents proud and happy especially my father. Three year into the program, I started to realize that I was in the wrong field. It’s true that I enjoyed medicine and helping people, but I had an irreversible problem dealing with suffering people, blood and dead people. I was doing good with anything that has something to do with studying. When it comes to the clinical portion of the program, I was struggling. I was unable to overcome my struggles; finally, I had to drop out. After dropping out, I became upset at myself and depressed. After an internal and external analysis of myself, I realized that the real reason the medical program was such a struggle for me because it was not my sweet spot in life. I was doing it not because I wanted to, but to please my father who wanted me to become a doctor. After a long conversation with my father about my failure, he finally admitted to me that my failure was his fault. He said that he always dreamed to be a doctor; since he failed to become one, he saw me as an opportunity to accomplish his dream through me. Becoming a medical doctor has never my own dream. I understood his aspiration and I forgave him. After an assessment of the situation, he decided to send me to the United State to find out what my sweet spot in life is and to pursue it. Once, I arrived in the united Stated, I reinvented myself and found out that a career in business has been the best fit for me all along.
    When it comes to what a student wants to become and what his or her parents want sometimes conflict with each other. Sometimes, some parents aspire a dream career for their children while the children themselves want to do something completely different. Parents have to realize that they have to let their children pursue their own dream in order to do something they are good at, they enjoy doing and will get paid to do. Whatever my parents wanted was irrelevant to my career choices; I suffered a career set back because of that. If I knew that back then, I would choice to do what I felt comfortable doing for the rest of my life. Failure is not the end of life; it’s a test of true will and dedication. My failure has motivated me and gave me more dedication to push myself harder. Now I am a finance/real estate student; finally I found my sweet spot in life.

  11. Wadson Joseph
    Lab Instructor: Richard Quinn
    Section – D017
    Summer 2014

    People are always looking for the best way to advance in their lives. However, nothing never come easy without any challenges. The challenges test people’s wiliness and dedication to accomplish something long desired and dreamed of. In my case, I have been tested by several adversities. Sometimes, I feel strongest with the desire to keep going. Other times, I feel beaten, discouraged with the desire to give up. Either way, I always found a reason to reinvent myself, dust up my shoulders and keep going.
    I am originally from Haiti. In the Haitian culture, parents, which much of them don’t have a formal education, hope that one day their kids can become someone educated. My parents used to live in a very remote small town with only one school sponsored by an international Christian mission. The school only offered elementary education. My parents, with the burning desire to push their children to accomplish something big, sent me and all my brothers and sisters to study in the capital where we can have access to higher education. It was eight of us; were very excited about the opportunity. My parents did not have a formal education; however, they had big visions for their children.
    Before I even finished my high school education, my father always told me that he wanted me to become a medical doctor. I didn’t know why my father wanted me to become a doctor, however, I was very excited with the aspiration to become a doctor. After my high school graduation, I got into the only stated sponsored medical school to make my parents proud and happy especially my father. Three year into the program, I started to realize that I was in the wrong field. It’s true that I enjoyed medicine and helping people, but I had an irreversible problem dealing with suffering people, blood and dead people. I was doing good with anything that has something to do with studying. When it comes to the clinical portion of the program, I was struggling. I was unable to overcome my struggles; finally, I had to drop out. After dropping out, I became upset at myself and depressed. After an internal and external analysis of myself, I realized that the real reason the medical program was such a struggle for me because it was not my sweet spot in life. I was doing it not because I wanted to, but to please my father who wanted me to become a doctor. After a long conversation with my father about my failure, he finally admitted to me that my failure was his fault. He said that he always dreamed to be a doctor; since he failed to become one, he saw me as an opportunity to accomplish his dream through me. Becoming a medical doctor has never my own dream. I understood his aspiration and I forgave him. After an assessment of the situation, he decided to send me to the United State to find out what my sweet spot in life is and to pursue it. Once, I arrived in the united Stated, I reinvented myself and found out that a career in business has been the best fit for me all along.
    When it comes to what a student wants to become and what his or her parents want sometimes conflict with each other. Sometimes, some parents aspire a dream career for their children while the children themselves want to do something completely different. Parents have to realize that they have to let their children pursue their own dream in order to do something they are good at, they enjoy doing and will get paid to do. Whatever my parents wanted was irrelevant to my career choices; I suffered a career set back because of that. If I knew that back then, I would choice to do what I felt comfortable doing for the rest of my life. Failure is not the end of life; it’s a test of true will and dedication. My failure has motivated me and gave me more dedication to push myself harder. Now I am a finance/real estate student; finally I found my sweet spot in life.

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