Renaissance Professional Branding presents challenges and complications.
Renaissance Professional Branding
I had the privilege of being interviewed by a top-level IT professional for their podcast a couple of weeks ago. (The ep hasn’t dropped yet, but trust me, you’ll hear about it when it does.) As I was introduced, they referred to me as a “Renaissance man.” While I, to paraphrase Professor Tolkien, “cordially dislike” that characterization, when someone you respect uses it, well, OK.
Thing is, I do have a wide variety of professional activities. My bread-and-butter work is in the IT sector, as a teacher/trainer. I started teaching at the high school level, specifically teaching social studies. Traveling 30+ weeks a year, doing computer training, presented an opportunity. I used free time on the road to write history books. So, now I have two professional skill sets. I market those skill sets.
Branding diverse skills
When skills obviously complement each other, branding flows naturally. Teaching computer subjects meshes with computer consulting. Teaching Enterprise Disaster Recovery and selling books on the history of New Orleans? Not so much.
The Business Networking International (BNI) folks told me, pick one or the other and focus. I get that. For a localized marketing strategy, being NOLA History Guy in a BNI chapter made more sense. The universe of potential consumers of my computer training in metro New Orleans is smaller than the potential buyers of history books. So, around town, I shunted aside the professional skills that, for the most part, pay the rent.
(Side note: I don’t do BNI anymore. The travel limited my ability to attend weekly meetings. I still fully believe in the concept of “Givers Gain, though.
To an extent, it’s not hard to separate my diverse skill sets on social media. On Da Twittah, I use @EdwardBranley for my computer consulting and training. I maintain a page on Facebook for seashell software, my consulting business. In 2010, I started a “social media consulting” company, YatMedia. That entity has Twitter and Facebook presences as well. So, it’s easy to point folks to my technical side. Promotion of YatMedia in particular flows from those presences. Targeted advertising eliminates confusion with the history stuff.
Edward the Author
I sell six history titles and four novels. While selling books I’ve written isn’t confusing at face value, it’s the diversity of topics that creates problems. Promoting my author skill set happens on @NOLAHistoryGuy Twitter account, NOLA History Guy on Facebook (page), and New Orleans Uncovered (group). So, there may be a disconnect/confusion when someone explores both sides of my body of work, one or the other usually flows OK.
The challenge of LinkedIn
LinkedIn presents the toughest challenge for Renaissance Professional Branding. You come to my LinkedIn presence. Are you there for my skills with respect to UNIX/Linux, Enterprise Storge, or Business Continuity? Or, do the history books interest you? Would you like me to speak to your organization on the challenge of regional disaster recovery, or on the history of retail shopping in downtown New Orleans? While Lafitte the Pirate is arguably more entertaining than Highly-Available Stretch Clusters, both have their audiences.
LinkedIn appears to be a jumble when you look at what I do. To help with that, I’ve some separation. I’ve got my personal umbrella, then seashell software and YatMedia underneath. I’m adding NOLA History Guy as a presence today. My goal will be to make an “omnibus” post daily or every other day that points to the specialized locations.
The bottom line
Renaissance Professional Branding is a work in progress. Please share your thoughts with me on what works and what doesn’t!