Wednesday, November 18, 2009

brand new me

Last night, at Jack's 3rd grade pot luck, as I munched on spicy sesame noodles and sipped red wine, I got into an animated conversation with a mom I'd never talked to before about personal branding. She's in between jobs, had worked in 2 different sectors before, and was now figuring out the best way to position herself to find a new job doing what she really loves. She's branding herself.

I found that fascinating. And true. That's what I've been unwittingly doing the past few months. You can't just be yourself anymore. You have to be a new and improved you. A you that's got catch phrases and a snappy bio. A you that can be summed up in short sentences. A you that's bright and shiny. In fact, it's almost like you have to reduce you down to a caricature, a cartoon, a 2-dimensional presence, to sell yourself these days.

And isn't that what we're all doing? Social media is all about personal branding. How else would anyone choose between the millions of people to follow? Everyone needs a shtick, a story, an edge that sets them apart. I delved into this online world at the suggestion of a friend in PR, as I was initially exploring ways to let people know about FLOW (I'm assuming, if you're reading this, no further explanation is necessary—you're probably overFLOWing at this point). Aside from sharing info about my upcoming book, I had no agenda. But, you have to have an agenda, no matter what anyone says. Otherwise what do you say? And why are you there? So, my agenda, my story, my persona evolved. Author. Vintage coat collector. Knitter. Mother. Yogi. NYC. Those are my facts. And while they trend more interesting than commonplace, that's not enough. I had to pump up the volume. Get sillier. More out there. I pour virtual FLOWtinis at night on twitter. My alter ego "Shameless Self Promoter" takes turns posting for me. I've tweeted statements as insane as "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" And people did. I've found this group of amazing, smart, edgy, funny, quirky people who are right there with me.

Last night, at the party, I realized my online, sparkly, rhinestoned self is spilling over into the real world. Usually, at these sorts of gatherings, I talk to the few people I know, not comfortable branching out and engaging strangers. But there I was, introducing myself left and right, chatting comfortably away to people I'd never seen before. While the thought of that used to fill me with dread, I had a blast.

I got my first TV booking yesterday. Local cable talk show. I'm finding that enervating. Exciting. I truly can't wait to go and see what happens. Last night I got an email asking me to come talk at a college, that they'd put together a night for me to talk about FLOW and menstruation and education. WHAT A THRILL! I'm already pulling the outline together in my head, imagining how to create a super cool slide show of ads and visuals (no Dan, no bullet points), and thinking how I could put something together for other groups. I love being out there, talking, sharing, engaging. Looking in from the outside, I can see that my online personality is shaping my real-life life. How amazing is that?

Day 43 is marveling at how interconnected it all is.


Reese said...

I really enjoy your blog!

Reese said...

I really enjoyed this

Anonymous said...

Yes "Shameless Self-Promotion" and may I add Outrageous Self-Expression!

I am going closing in on my third month of participating on Twitter. And I agree with you Elissa; we all have a personal agenda in social media, in life, especially if we are entrepreneurs. The Internet has just made all of this alot easier, and also alot more time consuming.

I started out with a few "rules of engagement" which has required me to also step outside myself and may past ways of being with other people. And in the past few weeks I have started to experience a major breakthrough.

I am grateful for all that I have learned from you, and your generous sharing over the past 43 days. I look forward to meeting you face to face tomorrow and watching you revel in your glory!

Go get 'em girl!

Lisa Adams said...

This was the first thing I was told to do when an editor was explaining how bad the publishing industry is doing right now: brand yourself. After realizing I did not have to take a hot poker and logo to myself I realized it was true. I'm not lucky enough to have a publishing destination in mind yet, but I'm also not quite sure that *I* am enough of a draw. I'm thinking about this issue a lot. I'm really glad to hear that you are thinking about it too, and how lovely to have something so wonderful to promote. As a sociologist this book would have been so great for required reading to undergrads...

Gotta go... I'm going to go tout FLOW on my FB page for my friends who are still teaching! As always, I'm hooked.

Amy Oscar said...

Once again, Im left smiling and nodding my head after reading your wonderful blog. No wonder people are buying your book. Damn, girl - you can write! You make everything so... relatable.

Jane C Woods said...

Elissa I am loving reading about your progress through the book launch and the changes it is bringing forth. Go Girl!