Monday, 27 June 2011

Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

Don't worry - branding doesn't need to be painful!

Thing 3 is about your personal brand. We'll consider how people see your online brand, what brand you would like to convey, and how to match the two.

I have a couple of confessions:
  1. It took over three weeks for me to decide on a blog domain for my 23 Things for Professional Development blog.
  2. It took me an hour to brand my blog the way I wanted to before I registered it with the 23 Things for Professional Development programme.
I know what some of you might be thinking; what a waste of time! Or is it? It might *only* be a blog, but it's part of my online presence, and even more crucially, it's part of my professional online presence. I want that online presence to be an accurate reflection of who I am, whether someone comes across my blog, my Twitter account, my LinkedIn account, or any of my other online professional networks. I also want to maintain consistency across different platforms.

So what can you do to maintain a consistent image and ensure you are portraying an accurate reflection of who you are? Consider your core values and how you can convey those messages to those who meet you in person and those who find you online. Things to consider include:
  • Name used - do you have a nickname that you use in a professional or personal capacity? What do you want people to refer to you as? Try to be consistent across different platforms, and if you want people to know it's you remember to include your real name somewhere on each. If you're not using your real name, I'd recommend using something which is easy to pronounce - initials may make sense to you when you register on a web service, but won't make it easy to say when you meet people.
  • Photograph - do you want people you network with online to recognise you when you meet face to face? The chances are that you do, in which case consider using a recent photograph of yourself as an identifier, rather than a cartoon or other image.
  • Professional/personal identity - do you want to merge the two or do you prefer to keep them separate? Personally, I tend to take a "profersonal" approach to demonstrate both sides of my personality, but others prefer to keep different sides of their life compartmentalised.
  • Visual brand - one of the easiest ways to distinguish a brand for yourself is with a clear visual identity. This could be the colours you use, or a certain style of imagery - anything to help your presence stand out as something unique and individual to you, and again remember to be consistent. I have the same purple flowers background for my blog and Twitter page, and also use this (and my penguin from my blog header) on my business cards:


Time for a bit of a vanity check. Search for your name in Google and check out the first page or so of results (try to do this in a different browser or an incognito window whilst logged out of Google to get a truly objective view - if you have a very common name you may wish to use another keyword word such as library or your country of origin alongside your name).

Do any of the search results on the first page refer to you personally? Are they the things you would want someone to find if they were looking to find out information about you? Which of your profiles come first? Is there anything about you on the results page that you wouldn't want a potential colleague/employer finding out about you?

Reflect on what you discovered and think about some of the ways you could improve your personal brand. Record your thoughts on your blog, and if there are some simple things you can change, go for it!

Optional extra activity

If you are feeling particularly brave, try asking someone else (such as one of the other programme participants) what they think your blog says about your personal brand. Are the words they suggest ones that you feel describe you? If not, consider why that might be and how you could change that perception.

Recommended reading

The Practical Librarian - Manage your brand as a librarian

Branding iron image from vapour trail on Flickr.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

23 Things Webinar

Yesterday, Charlotte and I were guest speakers on NCompass Live, a free online webinar hosted by the Nebraska Library Commission.  The video of the webinar is now available on their website and embedded below.

One of the really interesting things from the discussion was the fact that we've been using some terms that make sense here but don't necessarily translate in other countries.  Some examples include CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and Chartership (a qualification award by CILIP, the professional body for librarians and information professionals in the UK). If there are any other terms we use that don't make sense outside of the UK, let us know and we'll pull them together in a blog post.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

(This is Thing 2 in the programme. If you've not done so already, start off at Thing 1, here.)

Now you've set off with your own blogging, it's time to meet the neighbours: see who else is taking part and what they're saying. 

First of all, you need to let other people know that you're taking part.  Do that by completing the 23 Things for Professional Development registration form.

Screenshot of the cpd23 Delicious bookmarks
At the time of writing we already have over 100 blogs signed up: you can see an alphabetical list on our participants page. You probably don't have time to visit them all, so you can refine your choices using the country and sector tags on our Delicious bookmarks. EDITED 29/9/11 After recent changes to Delicious, our participants are now also listed on Diigo, where they are currently easier to browse.

If you think you've signed up, but don't appear in the Delicious list after a day or two, leave a comment here and we'll check what's happened.

Now, make sure that people can comment on your blog. In Blogger, look in the 'settings' tab for the 'comments' option. It's a good idea to say yes to 'show word verification for comments', because that helps to stop spam comments. If you say yes to 'comment moderation', you will receive an email (to the address specified) when someone comments - and you will have to approve the comment before it appears publicly on your blog.

Lastly, go and visit some blogs, read some posts and leave some comments to let the authors know what you thought. What did you enjoy about their post? Do you have similar or contrasting experience to share?

Being able to comment and discuss ideas is what makes blogging - and social media in general - so useful and valuable as a tool for personal and professional development. Comments on your own blog can offer advice and support, they might point you towards useful resources, or they might challenge your opinions and help you refine your arguments. By commenting on other people's blog you're likely to think more deeply about what you've read and what you think about an issue, you'll also be able to share some of your expertise, and you'll get your face (or, at least your moniker) more widely known.  It can be daunting to comment on the blog of someone you may never have met, but do take the plunge, even if it's just to say hello, or to say that you enjoyed a post.

To finish Thing 2, once you've explored the cpd23 neighbourhood a little, write a post on your blog about what you've read and who you've met.

Further Reading:
If you'd like to investigate the wider world of library and librarian blogging, then why not investigate the UK Library Blogs/Bloggers Wiki, and if you know of similar sources from librarians elsewhere in the world, let us know in the comments.

EDITED 29 Sep. 2011: Delicious has implemented a lot of changes in the last few days which make it pretty hard to navigate the cpd23 blogs.  You can now browse the participants on Diigo, a different bookmarking site.

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

Welcome to 23 Things for Professional Development! This is Thing Number 1.

In this Thing you will create your own blog (if you don't have one already) and will think and write about why you're taking part in 23 Things for Professional Development and what you're hoping to get out of it.

If you're already a happy, confident blogger, you can skip to What to write for Thing 1 below. Otherwise, keep reading for step-by-step blogging instructions.

Why blog?
Before we get to the how, a very few words on the why of blogging. Lots of new bloggers feel a bit strange writing down their thoughts and publishing them online for anyone to see.  It might seem like a rather vain thing to do.  But there are several reasons why blogging is a useful cpd tool:
  • blogging about what you've seen or done is a way of incorporating reflective practice into your professional life. We'll be talking more about reflective practice in Thing 5.
  • more prosaically, blogging about events will help you remember them more clearly in the future, and that's useful for job applications and when working towards qualifications.
  • you will positively impact on other people's development by blogging your ideas and experiences - professional engagement isn't just about your development, but it's also about sharing what you know with others.
  • by sharing your ideas and knowledge you'll get to meet new people and develop a wider professional network.
How to blog
There are various blogging platforms available online. Some of the most commonly used are Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, and Posterous. You're welcome to use any blogging platform that you like, but we're giving instructions here for Blogger, because it's quite easy to use.


This video from Blogger shows you what to do. There are written instructions below, too, if you prefer those.

Click to enlarge
  1. Go to
  2. If you already have a Google account and you'd like your blog to be linked to that, then sign in and proceed to step three. Otherwise, click on 'Get started'.
    1. Fill in the details on the 'Create an account' page.  When you've completed all the details click 'save. You should get a confirmation email to the email address you supplied.
  3. You should now be on the Blogger 'dashboard' page. It has two main parts - your profile, and your blogs. Investigate the 'edit profile' option and note that you can change the visibility of your name, email address and any profile picture you upload. You can change these settings at any time.
  4. When you've set up your profile as you want, click on 'create your blog now'
  5. Fill in the required details on each page. All the options, including blog title, URL and the template design, can be changed later.
  6. You should now be given the option to make your first post. Posting is pretty straightforward - note that you have the option to write your post in html, or to use the 'compose' option. 'Compose' is much more straightforward - it's like using a wordprocessor, but if you have html knowledge you might sometimes want to tinker with the html of a post.  Options for adding links, images and formatting are available across the top of the editing box.
  7. When you've written a post you can preview it, save it for later, and, using the orange button, publish it online.
  8. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments to this post, and someone will be along to try and help out.
What to write for Thing 1
To start off your cpd23 blogging write a post about why you're taking part in the course. You could talk about where your career is now and where you'd like it to go, what you're hoping to learn from cpd23, which of the Things you're most (or least) looking forward to, how you feel about being a new blogger or how you'd like to improve your blogging, or anything else that relates to why you're doing this!

You'll notice that in whichever blogging platform you're using, there's normally an option to 'label' or 'tag' your post. Please tag your cpd23 posts with (you've guessed it) 'cpd23', in addition to anything else you'd like to use, so that you, we and the great wide world, can keep a track of your cpd23 progress!

And finally...
If you'd like to read more on this topic you could do worse than to look at Ned Potter's 'Everything you've ever wanted to know about library blogs and blogging!' and follow the links he suggests.

This week there are two Things to do. Thing 2 will be along shortly.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Following the programme if your workplace blocks social networking

We had an interesting enquiry today about how you can follow the programme if sites such as Blogger and Twitter are blocked in your workplace. It's a shame that some workplaces do block these sites, especially when they are being used for continuing professional development, but if you're in that situation here are some tips for being able to join in.

Following the programme

Of course, to join in the programme you'll need to be able to read the blog posts from this blog. If you are currently unable to do that from your workplace, there are a couple of suggestions that might help you:
  1. Subscribe to the blog by email - use the Follow by Email box on the right hand side to submit your email address and all new posts will be delivered to your email address.
  2. Subscribe to the blog by RSS - if you are able to access Google Reader or another RSS reading tool (possibly a start page like Netvibes), you can subscribe to the blog using the Subscribe To links in the right hand side to receive posts by RSS. If you're new to RSS, have a look at this RSS in Plain English video to help you get set up (you may also want to use RSS feeds later in the programme to subscribe to some other 23 Things for Professional Development blogs).
Posting your own blog posts

If you are unable to access blogging platforms from your workplace, you can still join in and post to your own blog. You'll need to initially set up your blog from elsewhere, but once it's set up you can post to most blogging platforms from email. Below are links to instructions for some of the most popular platforms (again, you'll need to view these somewhere you have access to the websites):
We hope anyone who wants to will be able to join in the programme - if you have any problems please let us know and we'll try to help sort out a solution which works for you.

Friday, 10 June 2011

cpd23 Calendar

Inspired by a comment from Tom Roper, we've made a public Google Calendar listing all the Things and when they're happening, as well as a few events at which the cpd23 team are presenting.  You can see the calendar below, as a widget on the right-hand side of the cpd23 blog, and at the web address

Feel free to add this to your own calendar (it should work for Google Calendars and iCal), so that you don't  forget a single cpd23 Thing!

If you're new to Google Calendar and aren't sure how it works, we'll be explaining more about it in Thing 8, on 25 July.