In my previous post on Brand Management, I talked about the complainers who are going to professionally shoot themselves in the foot with complaining or negative behavior. So how do you go about putting a positive spin on your brand and promote yourself?
Identify what you care about.
First re-frame the discussion from complaints to objective "issues". For me personally, I have hot button issues that I feel compelled to write and talk about. Obviously, collection quality is a big issue. Notice how it wasn't just Awful Library Books or weeding but the larger issue of scope, mission and purpose of a collection. Customer service and front line reference desk service is also a big issue for me. This dovetails with my other love of all things reader advisory. Anytime I have a few minutes with any librarian and they start talking about these things, I am there! Truthfully, I love all things about library service and I have a feeling many of us in the profession also feel that way. Pick your favorites and start thinking about those issues, not just in your local situation but on the grand scale of libraries of all types. If you feel yourself swinging toward negative, dissect the problem issue and stay objective.
Start a blog.
Keep it professional and limited in scope. Don't blog about your vacation or personal stuff unless you can relate it to a library topic. Your library blog should reflect who you are as a librarian. Avoid dull or academic-sounding writing. Be relevant and brief when possible. Don't publish right away. Let it "steep" at least overnight in your brain. Ask questions and invite discussion wherever you can. (Another pro tip: don't blog when you are overly angry, frustrated, irritated with work or family and for God's sake, don't blog when you have been drinking.)
Find like-minded librarians
This is not as hard as it sounds. Search library topics or look for folks that write and talk about what you care about and begin a dialogue. This can be as simple as attend a presentation, follow someone on Twitter or comment on a blog post. Begin to converse and ask questions. This is especially important if you are in a small library or if your library culture isn't conducive to professional development or discussion. I have been lucky to have always worked with folks that think about library service as much as I do, but I know that isn't always the case. If you feel alone in your interest, this can be a great way to feel less isolated in your interests.
Attend professional conferences as much as possible
I know that in the climate of budget chaos that we are all experiencing that this is not always a viable financial option. Even if your current library doesn't support professional development on any level, make the effort to participate, even at your own cost. It is difficult to manage professional development but it is essential for a long term career. You can't afford to be left behind.
Ultimately, you need to be positive and optimistic. Seek out others for support and don't be a whiner about the obvious stuff: crazy people, the poor salaries,stupid meetings, insane bosses or poor working conditions. This is not new for those of us who have been in libraries for more than five minutes. I know I want to read blogs and attend conferences that will help me solve real problems.