Back when I started this blog in February of 2009 I was trying to create a space to share resources with my teachers in my district. Web 2.0 tools were gaining in popularity so I wanted to capitalize on that, hence the name. The same with my Twitter account. I wanted the two places to be tied together.
I wasn't thinking about branding.
Fast forward 5 years and @web20classroom and this blog are who I am.
They are my personal brand.
But why is personal branding important? And how do you even start?
First the importance.
There is no doubt we live in a digital world. We are able to do tremendous things and accomplish so much because of our ability to live in this digital world. Your story and how you tell your story is becoming increasingly important. Employers are beginning to look at the digital habits of prospective employees to see what they are saying, doing and thinking. For kids, colleges are doing the same. And parents too, looking at the digital spaces their classrooms, teachers and schools create.
It is important for all of us as individuals to create spaces where we can show off the good things about us. These spaces can house our digital portfolios and give insight on what we say, do and think to anyone who comes looking.
Sounds complicated but it actually is pretty easy to start. And I bet you are already doing some of this.
There are 4 easy things you can do.
Create A Landing Page-A what? A landing page is a simple place that has some basic information about you. Similar to a bio page, this can be a place to highlight what makes you awesome. And there are about a bazzillion ways to do this. For me, the easiest and most effective way was to use About.me. It is a free service that creates a simple an elegant page that is all about you.
On mine you can see a picture of me, a short bio and, most importantly, an easy way to get in touch with without revealing my email address. So, someone can send me a short message and I can choose to reply with my email or with my About.me address. Oh and you can link to all your social media accounts too. It's a great way to highlight lots of information about you but you only have to use one address. There are other services that do this too like Vizify that can work well.
Create a Blog or Portfolio Site-You are pretty amazing. You do pretty amazing work. You need a place to show off all that awesome. A blog or portfolio site can be a great way to share presentations you do, exemplary lessons you create or projects you've worked on. Google sites are free and dead simple to use. I like using my blog for that work because it gives the added benefit of a space for my personal reflection as well. Wordpress has some great features for portfolios and blogs but Blogger could work too.
Create A Social Media Profile- Here is where some would disagree with me but I think it is important to have profiles across social media channels. Having profiles in Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook or others doesn't mean you are constantly updating those spaces or spending massive amounts of time on those sites. But you are there. And you do have stuff there. It's another way for you to post your information and another way for others to find that important information about you.
I am in all of those social media spaces but I use each one very differently. I primarily use Twitter for my information gathering and sharing but post my blog posts to Google+. I have a Pinterest account and follow several boards and you can find me on Facebook (but only the information I want you to see.) The point is you are in several different places, posting, following and liking stuff that will build who you are.
Figure Out What You Are Going To Go By And Stick To It-Crazy to think about your name but its an important step. And this might take some thought. The last thing you want to do is change up the name of your blog, portfolio or Twitter account all the time. It makes it much more difficult for others to find you. Do a little research. Does someone have a similar name to you (like me)? Maybe you add your middle initial like I did. Or maybe you have a nickname that you use. Whatever you decide, give it lots of thought, do some searching to see what is already out there and once you settle on something stick to it.
But what about if you are a school or a district thinking about branding?
The same steps apply. And are important for showing off the great things kids in your classroom or building are doing. (And if you are a Principal or Teacher it's easy to be a one person PR Machine!)
The point of all this is that you want to highlight and share with the world what you are doing. And it doesn't have to be complex. With just a little bit of effort you can create a brand that truly shows the awesomeness that is you!
cross posted at blog.web20classroom.org
Steven W. Anderson is the Director of Instructional Technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, NC. He also regularly travels the country talking to schools and districts about the use of Social Media in the classroom. Steven has been recognized with the NOW Award and the 2009 and 2011 Edublogs, Twitterer of The Year Award. In 2012 he was named an ASCD Emerging Leader. Read more at blog.web20classroom.org.