What I Learned About Personal Branding: Weird Is Good

Yelling “Self promotion, Baby” is a little over the top, isn’t it?

I love rhetoric. I enjoy Big Stories. Without Too Much Detail. As Too Much Detail ruins a Good Big Story.

Although I sometimes say things excited and full of passion (“you need to…”), it’s always an invitation to look at the information and consider it for your own use. If you like it, great! If you have no use for it, that’s cool too.

Using Big Stories Without Too Much Detail And Meaning It In An Inviting Way is a personal branding thing for me.

I didn’t plan this. It just turned out that this was one of my things. But in the Big Story version, you plan personal branding.

In reality you can plan, but a different plan will be used. As I found out.

It’s weird when people know you from your blog.

Conversations get strange. You’ve never met a person, yet you think you know them. You associate them with the agile crowd, the lean posse, the social media gurus or any other label in existence. And presto, you have a whole set of assumptions about your conversation partner.

It’s strange, but also very powerful. You can skip the obvious stuff and dive directly into some interesting topics to discuss. You connect faster.

If you are involved on the internet, you can nurture the labels put on you. At least, so we think.

Years ago when I started blogging, I decided to cover “projects and humans”. There is no way I can pronounce “The Project Sociologist” (my first option). So it became “Project Shrink“.

People remember that name. Not my real name. But they remember “Project Shrink”. Because it’s funny. It’s short. But in general, people have no real topic associated with that name other than “something with humans”.

I am not the Kanban-guy, the Scrum guru, the Monte Carlo Simulator or SharePoint-man.

That’s a Personal Branding sin. People have to know “what you’re about”.

I started out writing about “Project Management”. But under that label humans don’t play a role. (At least, that’s what I’m told.) In “general management”: yes. In “human resourcing”: yes.

So I adopted “Project Leadership”. Now that is a lovely area in which you can throw any human topic you can imagine. The drawback is, nobody really knows what it is exactly. It may be a safe label, but it’s not an effective one.

I like discussing how you can combine different project approaches effectively. Dave Prior came up with “Project Mashups”. I tried “Freestyling“. I liked “Project Management 2.0″, but that has “Project Management” in it, and, as I explained, “Project Management” doesn’t do humans. Besides, it’s been taken.

And don’t get me started about the responses you get when you use the word “Social Media”!

Currently “Project Shrink” stands for “Project Leadership/Social Media” – guy. That’s my view on the matter.

At a recent PM congress I found out that I am “the video guy”. Just because I am weird enough to walk around in a suit with a cheap flip cam.

300 thought provoking posts about projects could not do what walking around with a $100 electronic gadget established. 🙂

So, it seems: weird is good.

Or perhaps: more distinctive is good.

What I took away from this experience?

Plan the branding, but stay open, listen and adapt.

Hmmmm. Sounds familiar.


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