Today, we bring to a close ALA’s Midwinter Conference for 2011. For me, it was a whirlwind tour, only spending one full day on the conference floor (instead of three). After checking in to my hotel late Friday afternoon, I wandered the exhibit floor, talking with vendors about new products, picking up arm-loads of free books, and grabbing delicious niblets of hors d’oeurve. Sunday was even briefer after deciding to head back to Los Angeles earlier than I originally planned.

On Saturday, the ACRL New Members Discussion Group held their panel on digital self branding. Brett Bonfield, Kiyomi Deards, Lisa Carlucci Thomas, and Andromeda Yelton offered their advice and talked about their experiences building a reputation online and on the library circuit. If Twitter and after-session discussion are any indication, the panel was a brilliant success. Over 40 people attended and we even got some coverage on ALA’s Youtube channel.

Here’s a summary of the best advice offered by our panelists. Thanks to everyone who came and we hope you enjoyed it!

Why should you take the time to set up an online brand?

  1. People will Google you: vendors, administrators, future employers, colleagues. What do you want them to find?
  2. It can be mutually rewarding to you and the people who could benefit from your skills and knowledge.
  3. When you have an online presence, how you present yourself in face to face situations may be seen in the context of your digital self.

What can you do to make it work?

  1. First off, it is an organic process. You may have to grow into it. So don’t panic!
  2. Building a professional brand may seem like fishing with a thousand poles. You may have to throw them all out and see which one bites.
  3. Imagine you don’t have a resume. What would you do/say/build online to highlight your skills?
  4. Find an niche and find a community.
  5. Find a way to participate, do good work, and then link back to your website.

And finally, some sobering advice:

  1. Can you verbalize how social media and online branding is helpful to your career? If you’re in academia, you should be able to do this, especially if you plan to take the time to work at online branding, because…
  2. Twitter won’t get you tenure.
  3. Be very careful about being negative in a public, online space. If you’re going to say something negative online with your real name, people will notice (and find it).

Did you attend the panel? What did you think? We are planning to continue the discussion online at ALA Connect. So if you’re interested, jump over there and let us know your thoughts!