07 July 2009

My Personal Brand – The Beginning

Prior to this summer’s NHL entry draft in Montreal, I attended a Career Conference hosted by Sports Management Worldwide, who offer several specialized courses intended to prepare their students for non-athletic careers in sports. Over the course of the conference, SMWW President and founder, Dr. Lynn Lashbrook, referred time and time again to his hope that we all be given the opportunity to “monetize” our passion.

sports_manageme_060317_s At the time, the slogan came across as contrived and subtly cunning (the man does, after all, make a living of selling—aka ‘monetizing’—the hope of a career in sports). As the phrase was given time to settle however, it made perfect sense and began to resonate within me—I can make a living doing something I love, and as difficult as it may be (and believe me, the tone of the conference was not exactly optimistic as to the prospects of actually attaining a position in the NHL), I know that I can make it all happen for myself.

It was at this point that I casually began to brainstorm creative approaches and a roughly mapped strategy for attaining my ultimate goal. As luck would have it, Entry Draft weekend was also my first as an active participant in the Twitter-verse as I hoped to get some insider updates while attending the event live. Impressed by its capabilities, Twitter was to become a focal point of my campaign to get a job in the NHL, along with other social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn and this very blog. twitter_logoThrough Twitter, I stumbled upon the profile of Dan Schawbel, a leading expert on social media and personal branding. At first uncertain of what ‘personal branding’ meant, a quick overview of Schawbel’s site revealed to me that personal branding was precisely the initiative I had already set in motion, only better articulated.

“Personal branding,” he says, “is the process of how we market ourselves to others.” Tracing this back to what all that a brand is and should be, I realized that the strategy I had mapped out for myself was nothing more nor less than an effort to create a marketable brand of myself. Several speakers at the SMWW conference spoke to the need to differentiate oneself from the pack, which is precisely what branding is intended to do. My brand, my stigma, my point of relevance, I had determined, would be developed and broadcast through a web of social media tools and other networking opportunities—this, I had decided, was my ticket to fulfillment.pbtriangle

Bringing it all together for me conceptually, Schawbel paints his Personal Branding Success Triangle. “Success,” he writes, “is the ability to monetize your passion” (yep, there’s that line again), which cannot be achieved in his estimation without the proper structure of three crucial and inter-related components: Passion, Expertise and a Support System. 

I have no doubt that I hold within me the passion needed to thrive in the NHL, nor do I hesitate to confirm that I possess the skills needed to succeed—the weakest portion of my Personal Branding Triangle then would be my support system, which is lacking not in depth of support (from friends and family), but in the breadth of my network. The initial focus of my campaign to land a job in the NHL then, is to more clearly define, expand and enhance my brand and the network by which it is recognized.network

The one area in which I disagree with Schawbel is that he holds success as the monetization of your passion, whereas I feel (perhaps naively) that success may in fact precede money. It is the realization of my passion to be a part of the NHL or one of its organizations that will confirm my success—money doesn’t necessarily or immediately have to factor into it.

Similarly, I hope my campaign, despite its advertised motives of self-advancement, brings much more than success, as described by Schawbel. Establishing my personal profile and developing a network of like-minded and interesting individuals will, I expect, be most gratifying in and of itself and not as a means to anything else. People matter; everything else is gravy.

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