Welcome to Writing/Communications Wednesdays.

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Before I started my Masters program in Communications and Technology, I thought I was digitally literate and taking a course in “Using/Managing Social Networks” and “New Media Narratives” this term I’ve learned a lot so far about fitting in with the digital communications community.

Theory vs. Practice – Social Networking not Social Media

My practical knowledge from previous professional and personal networking experiences has proved invaluable. There’s something about learning theory after practice, which makes things click a whole lot easier. It’s like showing someone in person one orange plus another orange makes two oranges before you learn on paper that
1 + 1 = 2.

The power of informal networks is effectance. Learning, sharing, growing. I think the power of Twitter particularly compared to other social networks is the opportunity to connect with OTHERS. It’s like being thrust into a digital kindergarden where you learn to place nice and make new friends. Meeting ‘strangers’ is what can grow your network and your literacy in so many ways. The key difference is not using social media, but making genuine connections (networking) with people. Through just a few tweets, I learned from Doug Belshaw that to really be digitally literate, a person should be well-rounded and have understanding of the eight elements of digital literacy (13:26 in video).

TEDxWarwick – Doug Belshaw – The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

I examined my own digital literacy in light of these eight elements a podcast for my New Media Narratives course. Since I’ve been blogging and networking online for three years, I think my strongest literacy is being able to “blog the blog”.

Talk the Talk – Beware of Buzzwords

Two years ago when I found my way into a circle of amazing writers and bloggers, I wrote a post called “Writer’s Lingo – a newbie’s dictionary” and I’ve learned that the same applies to the digital media community. You need to learn the vocabulary in order to get involved in dialogues.

It is important to know the words to use and avoid. I’ve learned that the media buzzwords that the digital community tends to wince at are:

Walk the Walk – Be a Leader

Being a thought leader. I’ve talked about the issues with “experts” before a few times on my blog and with my academic colleagues, I’ve realized that on Twitter, you don’t have to be an expert to tweet about certain topics. Before this term, I was hesitant to tweet links to articles because I didn’t want people to assume I was claiming an authority of knowledge on a certain subject. I watched as authors and publishing industry professionals I admired tweeted up a storm and I always wondered how they did it. How did they become thought leaders in writing and publishing trends?

The fact of the matter is: Twitter is a medium for sharing thoughts. I can tweet links to articles that I’ve read and find value in. It doesn’t mean I’m taking an official position on an idea or that I am advocating what the author says. It means that I’m aware of it, that I want others to be aware of it, and that I’m willing to talk about it. It’s something that is related to my personal brand. So I’ve learned that reading, tweeting (sharing) information, and chatting on Twitter has increased my ability to integrate into new social networks and it has given me more well-rounded digital literacies.

Are you building a personal brand? What are some key tips you would share?

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