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Personal Branding – The year that was & the year ahead

Like many (HR) professionals this time of year, we tend to look back on the year that was as well as start to look ahead at the year to come and what our professional plans are for 2013. I would encourage all of you to constantly be looking at your personal brand and how you portray, project and enhance this brand. Your personal brand is that personal and professional mix of who you are – the specific combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, professionalism and interests that combine to make you, well, you! It is the image that you portray to the outside world, whether in person or online via social media, email, etc. It is the question that is answered when people think of what comes to mind when your name is mentioned in professional circles.

2013 aheadIn 2012, I made a conscious effort to enhance my personal brand for both personal (professional) reasons as well as for business related reasons. I became very active on LinkedIn by joining groups, participating in discussions, providing relevant content to my network and expanding my professional contact base. I also dove into the Twitterverse with the objective of enhancing my online presence, sharing content and engaging with those that I follow and those that follow me. I would categorize my efforts in this area as a resounding success. I established over 600 (real) followers in 12 months and tweeted over 1300 times – not bad by newbie standards! I connected with professionals from all over the world and even got to meet some of these individuals “in real life” at various conferences I attended in 2013.

My second goal was to establish a professional blog where I could once again share thoughts on leadership, management, human resources and career management. I was late getting this goal started but after I received a kick in the pants thanks to a great blog post and some encouragement from Jay Kuhns (someone in the HR industry that I respect a lot) who in his own right is a fantastic blogger, I started “The Armchair HR Manager” in September 2012. I tried to adhere to a writing schedule of 3 posts a week. I am off to an acceptable start in this venture. I averaged over 325 visitors a month during this four month time frame and delivered 34 posts. By most standards, that is a relatively low amount; however, I am proud of my start in this area and am most excited about the dialogue/commentary that has resulted from some of my posts. I always feel a great sense of excitement whenever someone mentions that they read one my posts and I always appreciate the feedback when someone takes the time to read my blog. My blogging highlight from 2012 was when I attended the LinkedIn Talent Connect Conference in Las Vegas and was asked by several individuals (that I had connected with online prior to the conference) “are you going to be blogging about the conference?” (The answer, of course was “yes!”)

So, for 2013, here is my personal branding “to-do” list:

1. Commit to a regular writing/blogging schedule – I aim to continue to bring greater content to The Armchair HR Manager in 2013. I look to expand the readership/followers and am excited to partner with other bloggers to provide more guest blog posts.
2. Regularly read AND comment on other’s blog posts – I regularly follow about 15 other blogs but don’t take nearly enough time to comment on them. If I hope to generate comments on my blog, I need to invest the time in commenting and engaging with other bloggers on their posts!
3. Continue to network – both locally, domestically and internationally. I look to further expand my network with other HR professionals, industry experts and professionals so as to advance our profession(s). I want to have more discussions about things like social media with more of my peers. I want to share best practices and work with others to help each other grow professionally.
4. Be a mentor/be mentored – in order to give back to my profession, I look to either formally or even informally mentor a local HR professional. I have received some great guidance over the years from some informal mentors and hope to be able to give back in this way as well. I am also looking at the idea of asking for a senior level mentor as well. I have a couple of individuals in mind that I am going to reach out to in this area and am looking forward to what it may bring to both of us from a professional perspective.
5. Public speaking – yes, everyone’s greatest fear. Those that know me know I always have a lot to say about the topics I am passionate about – recruiting, leadership, etc. and they have always encouraged me to speak at various events, conferences, etc. For some reason, I never do. In 2013, I am going to look for opportunities to speak several times at events in order to share/give back to my profession and my peers and to finally get over the hump when it comes to public speaking.

What are your personal branding goals for 2013? What are your development plans? I would love to hear from you about what you are planning to focus on in 2013. What worked in 2012 for you? Finally, I wanted to give a special thanks to everyone who took the time to read The Armchair HR Manager in 2012. Your time is very much appreciated!

Image courtesy of FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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