Fickle Findability

Yesterday my friend Sherry asked me if I would be interested in leading some discussions on personal branding at SoCon08.  Of course I was delighted and flattered, but it occurred to me that it might be useful to offer up a few thoughts to set the stage for the conversation:  What I wish to assert is that personal branding is something other than self promotion.  I don’t mean to be coy.  Certainly an increase in visibility is a likely byproduct of personal branding.  In fact, for many it is a highly desired outcome.  As a business person, I count myself in that number. However, the part that I find really interesting is the fact that it is getting harder to be invisible.   We don’t need to act like P.T. Barnum to be findable – findability is happening to us, and a little more each day. Being findable is not the same concept as being popular.  Many of the attendees at SoCon08 will be people who have embraced the idea of being findable, when popularity was never an overt goal. Being findable is part of how they build community, it flows from their desire to have and share a voice with those who would find that voice of interest.  Vlog, blog, or podcast, link profiles, or tweet@twitter and you are actively enabling your own findability, but it is happening passively too.  You shop online and leave a vendor a comment,  you’re spotted on YouTube by someone’s phone-cam while attending a conference, someone tags you and puts your picture on Flickr, or maybe a customer mentions you in her blog – you didn’t intend it, but you just got a little more findable.  Promotion, as I see it, is about trying to accelerate and control the findability, but the control is an illusion. (You might hang on to the bull for the whole 8 seconds, but are you really in control?) Personal branding is about choosing to participate, choosing consciously to add your voice to a chorus that may already be out there.  A chorus that is probably easier to find than any platform of your own.  So will you be in harmony?  Can you influence the chorus?  This I hope is an interesting place to start a conversation about personal branding.

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