Thing 11: Your Professional Brand

Old Letters

Defining Personal Brand

I am a person, not a product! This is often the response I hear when I talk to people about building a personal brand and they are resistant to the idea. I do not see personal branding as a negative thing but rather an activity that should be embraced, developed, and promoted.  Trying to build a professional reputation in any sector is challenging.  In the area of Libraries and Information Services, this can be additionally challenging for many reasons. Firstly, there are the stereotypes to deal with, secondly, we are in a dynamic environment where roles and skills sets are changing rapidly and finally, we generally are not very good at self-promotion.

So, what is a personal brand and why do you need one?  If you are already active on Social Media or if anyone has ever mentioned you in an online context you have an online presence. This online presence contributes to your personal brand whether or not you are managing it.  Social media provides a unique way to develop, monitor and maintain your personal brand. I find it is a great way to build an online community, to network with people who work in libraries throughout the world, and to also network with people in other areas I am interested in. It is important to consider that if anyone wants to find out about you probably the first thing they will do is to search for you on Google and across multiple social media platforms- it is far better to be in the driver’s seat of what your personal brand says about you than not.

Personal branding is your professional identity, your reputation, and it can be developed and managed by you. A definition that resonates with me is “what do people say about you when you are not in the room.” This is different from gossip. This is where the “go to” person is identified by professional colleagues- an unsolicited recommendation on what knowledge, skills, and influence that others perceive you possess.  We’ve all been in that situation when discussing a challenge or interest with colleagues and someone will say “You should really talk to X- they gave a presentation last year at XX conference.” Personal branding is a skill that connects you to your professional community in a way that benefits you specifically and our profession generally.

Why should Library Professionals have Personal Brands? 

Librarians come from so many different backgrounds and have a range of different degrees and work in a variety of environments. We are all at different life and career stages as well and this can be so beneficial for developing a professional network for librarians not only with other librarians, but also a way to highlight and raise our skills and knowledge outside of the library profession.  For example, you may be a business librarian. In this case, your personal brand connects you to the library world as well as the business world. Keeping up your associations to business would be a definite advantage in terms both of helping yourself but also promoting the profession generally. 


There are lots of benefits to you if you develop a personal brand. Some of these are:

  • A way to connect professionally with other librarians who have similar interests or work in areas you are interested in finding out more about. 
  • You take responsibility for developing, controlling, and curating information about you that you promote as your areas of expertise or interest. 
  • By having a personal brand that identifies specialties and interests you are identifying yourself as someone who is interested in collaboration-
  • Raise your profile for potential employers and colleagues
  • Expand your professional circle outside of library circles
  • If all librarians had personal brands this would collectively contribute to the development, perception, and involvement of the library world with other sectors.
  • Being a librarian means you connect to a range of people on different levels and having a personal brand allows these people to connect with you in effective ways.

What tools to use to create and manage a personal brand?

There are a range of tools available that will help you develop your personal brand online, but it is equally important to engage with others in our profession, to attend conferences and seminars and to promote yourself through collaboration (such as volunteering on committees), presenting or publishing (in a variety of formats). Nothing is better than face to face connection and I find most librarians are welcome to connecting, especially if there is tea or coffee involved.
Some of the online tools available that I have found to be very effective are listed below.:


LinkedIn is a great online tool.  It is very straight forward to set up.  Once you set up your account you can develop this as your virtual CV and primary way of connecting to others. Having a LinkedIn account allows you to expand inside and outside of library environments- classmates, other sectors or new sectors you are interested in. LinkedIn provides a platform where you can publish and promote your own articles on topics you find interesting.  You can also post articles and conference news that you think others in your network might be interested in- this is a way to demonstrate you understand other’s areas of interest and also that you are paying attention to what is happening in a subject space. 

LinkedIn has a feature that provides for a working platform for discussion groups.  The site is fully searchable by subject area, institutional names, employment sectors, etc. 
The summary section on your LinkedIn profile provides you with an opportunity to promote your personal brand. To maximise discoverability of your brand be sure to write a keyword driven headline. The summary should speak directly to your intended target audience, identify what sets you apart and be creative. 

By default, LinkedIn populates your headline with your current job title and employer and I would recommend you change this to include what information you think is important for your brand. 

For example, I have my LinkedIn profile address set to include only my name: 

Here are the steps to customise your LinkedIn address:

You can customize your public profile URL when you change what appears on your public profile. Custom public profile URLs are available on a first come, first served basis. Members can only have one custom public profile URL at a time.

To change your public profile URL:
  1. Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Click View profile.
  3. On your profile page, click Edit your public profile & URL on the right rail.
    • Update your public profile settings will show up if you don't have a public profile. Learn how to enable your public profile visibility.
  4. Under Edit public profile URL in the right rail, click the Edit icon next to your public profile URL.
    • It'll be an address that looks like
  5. Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
  6. Click Save.


Conferences used to be the primary way you would be able to network- but this has changed.  With more and more conferences having live streaming and tweeting the audience is far bigger than those in the physical conferences space.

Twitter has been covered extensively in Thing 10 Networking Tools so I am just going to offer a few notes on how to use Twitter for personal branding. The most important aspect of using Twitter is the selection of your username and the wording of your profile description. The use of effective keywords will allow you to be discovered and identified by other Twitter users with similar interests.  

Twitter allows you stay informed about what is happening in libraries in various sectors and connect with people virtually. The networking is ideal as you can do so online in a non-consequential way by following others who have similar interests.  One of the most effective ways I use Twitter for networking is to pre-network.  So if I am attending a conference I and want to connect with someone to discuss a common interest I would contact them on Twitter via the direct message feature and introduce myself and then arrange to meet them in person at the conference. In advance I can send questions they also have access to my twitter postings and can decide if it is beneficial for them to meet as well.  Managing what you tweet and re-tweet is a great way to promote your interests.  

Twitter also allows you celebrate accomplishments with your followers, with such things as “Delighted to be speaking at Conference X today.” Twitter also allows you to promote others interests and accomplishments. The best way to raise your profile is to raise the profile of others. This demonstrates that you are supportive but also that you are aware of people and events that are of interest to your online community.


To set up an ORCID number go to and all it takes is 3 easy steps to get set up. See below:

  1. Register Get your unique ORCID identifier Register now!
  2. Registration takes 30 seconds. 
  3. Add Your Info Enhance your ORCID record with your professional information and link to your other identifiers (such as Scopus or Researcherid or LinkedIn). 
  4. Use Your ORCID Id Include your ORCID identifier on your Webpage, when you submit publications, apply for grants, and in any research workflow to ensure you get credit for your work. 
There is interoperability between LinkedIn, Twitter and ORCID as you can include your account links from each platform in the other platforms, sort of like a personal branding cross referencing system!

Joining a Professional Organisation

As a library and information professional either studying or working in Ireland it is so important to join a professional organisation.

If you are based in the Republic of Ireland joining the Library Association of Ireland is one of the main memberships to consider. Details of membership can be found here.
Remember if you are a student membership is free for your year of study and one-year post qualification!

As with all Professional Organisations, membership provides you with a range of support and CPD opportunities and it is also a great environment within which to build your personal brand and network and demonstrate your skills to your library colleagues. 

Perhaps one of the greatest things about being a member of a Library Association is that you have opportunities to join committees where you can demonstrate or develop new skills that will add to your personal brand!

Here is a comprehensive list of Library Associations across the world from the American Library Association Website

Some things to consider

Listed below are some things to consider when developing and maintaining your personal brand

  • Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken-decide what is unique about your and what you want to promote.
  • Remember branding is an ongoing activity so you do have to maintain it. I would recommend googling yourself every now and then, particularly in 'incognito mode' in your browser, to see what the results are. If that matches what you are promoting, that’s great, but if not, you have the tools to change the information and the results. 
  • Focus on a content niche where you can be the expert in the world on that particular topic.
  • Use a consistent picture, look, voice, etc. across platforms so your brand is consistent.
  • Don’t focus your entire personal brand around your current job- think about how you will maintain your brand once your job changes.
  • Posting too often may cause others to wonder when you find the time to do your work.  
  • Find your balance, one that works for you, in terms of frequency of updating 
  • Be genuine and professional at all times!

Tasks for Thing 11 

For this Thing you have the choice of 2 tasks- pick one. 
Task 1 
Create a bio of yourself that you can use when creating an online profile. 
Task 2
Set up a LinkedIn or ORCID account and highlight aspects of your personal brand you want to emphasise. 

Today's post is written by Jane Burns MBA, MLIS,MPhil, FLAI who is an experienced Library & Information Professional. 

Jane is a part time Lecturer at the School of Information Studies and the School of Education at University College Dublin. Her current role is Research Officer in the School of Nursing & Midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.  She is a published author and presents regularly at Conference nationally and internationally. Jane is a PhD candidate at University College Dublin in the school of Education. She is a winner of the 2017 Wellcome Images Award for her collaborative research Breast Cancer: Graphic Visualisation of Tweets. @JMBurns99


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