Ever since I read my first book on personal branding, “Make a Name for Yourself” by Robin Roffer, I have been charmed with both the idea and practice behind building a personal brand. A lot of branding experts often speak about personal branding as a way to sell and/ or package one’s skills. Some branding gurus make personal branding about differentiating yourself, and marketing specialists and PR consultants frequently speak of personal branding in terms of Madison Avenue. While certain aspects of personal branding is about controlling one’s public image for the purposes of personal and financial gain, for educators, I see personal branding as a way to discover their authentic selves, their passions, interests, and strengths, as well as what they value and the contribution they want to make in the classroom. The following is a 3 step process for educators to not only build a personal brand, but how to use their brand to become better educators.
Who are you?
Now I don’t want to get too metaphysical, but who you are is essentially whom and what you value. It is a product of your relationships as well as the events and the experiences you have had.
As educators, it should go without saying that you should understand who you are/ what you value. There is a reason why you are drawn to particular students and why there are subject areas and teaching methodologies that speak to you more than others. By understanding that attraction, you can determine which kind of classes, what type of schools, and/or which practices is the best fit for you.
What are you?
What you are is your core. It is what drives you. It is what gets you out of bed every morning. It is what stirs your soul, and what lights your path.
This can be the trickiest part for people who decide that a career in education is their calling. Do you go the route of K-12, higher ed, non-profit work, training and development, consulting, or instructional design? The work here is taking what you are and aligning it with who you are. For example, I value dialogue, connection, engagement, and being a part of a larger discussion. At my core I am a social being. Nothing excites me or invigorates me more than interacting with people. So for me, there is no greater platform than digital media.
What do you have to offer?
This is about your area of specialization. It is the specific research areas as well as the courses or work you are known for. Your specialty is what separates you from others in your field – allowing you to be recognized and sought after for your expertise.
For you it may be your expertise in technology integration or your wealth of knowledge within a subject area. It may be your research on student achievement or your work with parental or community engagement. As for myself, my area of specialization is using digital media tools for professional development: to build learning networks, lead public discussions, garner immediate feedback, establishing yourself as an expert, as well as the curation and sharing of content.
I will leave you with this thought: Be real. Be prepared. Be interesting. Be viral. Don’t try to be someone or something you are not. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Know your wheelhouse. And share your expertise with fellow educators, parents, administrators, and across a multitude of digital platforms. You are a part of the noblest professions in the world.