By now, you’ve probably heard about building your professional brand maybe, oh, I don’t know, 400 times a day. It’s like eating kale: you know it’s the right thing to do, but where do you start?
Happily, there are some great books out there on how to build your professional brand. Although none are specific to the LIS profession, almost all have key points that are easily adapted to any type of career path. Based on my own experience, an informal survey of colleagues, and student responses from my University of Denver “Alternative LIS Career Paths” course, the following titles provide the reliably actionable (if occasionally over-hyped) information:
Arruda, William and Kirsten Dixson. Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand. Wiley, 2007. ISBN 0470128186.
Organized by three broad themes: unearth your unique promise of value, communicate your brand to your target audience, manage your brand environment. Key statements: “What makes you unique, makes you successful,” “Building your personal brand online gets you noticed in the real world.” Lots of solid how-to advice, resources, cool quotes.
Kaputa, Catherine. UR a Brand! How Smart People Brand Themselves. Nicholas Brealey Boston, 2006. ISBN 0891062130.
Winner of multiple career book awards (despite the fact that the “UR a Brand” makes me crazy), this book is particularly strong on tactics and tools. Many of her ideas are unique to this book, and yet once she’s suggested them, seem like common sense (e.g., include testimonial quotes on your resume). Key concept: a strong personal brand raises the perception of your value among others, and consequently your earning power.
McNally, David and Karl D. Speak. Be Your Own Brand: A Breakthrough Formula for Standing Out from the Crowd, 2d ed. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011. ISBN 1605098108.
One of the more reflective, thoughtful, and methodical of the branding books. Key statement: “The ‘right way’ to go about building a strong personal brand is to make sure your brand resonates and is relevant, in the most distinctive way possible, for those people with whom you want to build strong relationships on a long—term basis.” Useful graphics clarify a number of the key concepts.
Roffer, Robin Fisher. Make a Name for Yourself: Eight Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success. Crown Business, 2002. ISBN 9780767904926.
A marketer by profession, Roffer was one of the early entrants in the personal branding arena. Her book is written for women because, she asserts, they usually have the toughest time drawing positive attention to themselves. As a marketer, Roffer’s approach to personal branding is a bit, ah, flashier than most of us might feel comfortable with (and the book’s recommendations are pre-social mediasphere), she nevertheless makes many very helpful and valid points.
Schwabel, Dan. Me 2.0, Revised and Updated Edition: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. Kaplan, 2010. ISBN 9781607147121.
Successfully following his own advice, Schwabel has become a personal-branding guru. Strong coverage of social media tools and channels, and how to leverage your brand strengths for increased career opportunities. Jammed with actionable advice and tactics.
Vetter, Simon. Stand Out! Branding Strategies for Business Professionals. July Publishing, 2005. ISBN 097043037X.
Stand Out! is noteworthy for its use of business experts’ personal stories as examples of successful branding strategies. Although most of these are drawn from the fields of professional speaking, training, and personal coaching, many of the strategies and tactics used can be adapted for information professionals.
Van Yoder, Steven. Get Slightly Famous: Becoming a Celebrity in Your Field and Attract More Business with Less Effort, 2d ed. CreateSpace, 2007. ISBN 145375671X.
Van Yoder’s approach is delightfully realistic for most of us – we’re not aiming to become a rock star, we’d just like to get a little more visibility for our professional contributions. Covers all the basics of brand-building, including identifying your niche, working with the various media channels, and creating an online presence. Of special interest to LIS professionals is Chapter 10, “Info-Products: Create Multiple Income Streams.”
I’ve no doubt others have found additional branding books of value – if so, please let us know so we can add them to the list!