Monday, September 20, 2010

How your brand affected your chances of meeting Stephen Mandel

I had a fantastic opportunity to share. I'm allowed to invite a select group of individuals to a coffee event with the incumbent mayor, Stephen Mandel. In order to make sure it's a conversation instead of a rally, we need to keep the numbers low. So I needed to be very selective in my invites. A diverse group was necessary, not too many people who would discuss the same issues. Only so many arts types, just a few film-people, only a couple small-business people. One digital media producer. No media-types. I would have invited many more but I had to keep the numbers down while being representational. It's a Facebook event and I had to pour through my entire list. How did I select who's getting invited and who isn't?

Very lazily...

I am guilty of ego-friending on Facebook. I have over 700 friends. I don't wave that as a flag of how cool I am, it's more of a symptom of how easily I get excited when people want to 'friend' me. That being said, I now tend to rely on Facebook as a warehouse of all my social contacts. So when an opportunity like this comes along, I plow through my list to see who I should pass the invite along to. 700 names is a lot to sort through, so I found myself 'pigeonholing' everyone. 'Arts Person.' 'Film Person.' 'Entrepreneur.' 'Activist.' Whoops, already have two Activists, I shouldn't invite another.

As I was doing this, I felt a bit lazy. I know all these people are varied and complex, I can't just lump them all together. But I'm not the only person guilty of this. In fact, we all do it. And how do we decide what 'sort' of person a friend or acquaintance is? By their branding.

We all brand ourselves. Whether intentionally or not. In fact, if we don't develop our own brands, other people will do it for us. Ask your teenagers. Why are they on Facebook and Twitter so much? Studies have shown that if they don't control their own 'online brand,' others will do it for them. This is the hole that most cyber-bullying pushes through. In our ever more connected, virtual world, this branding becomes even more important.

So consider. What is your 'brand?' How are you perceived? What do others think about you and if it's not accurate, what are you doing to correct it? It's not easy, and some people will be affected by this more than others. But we all take short-cuts. We all pigeon-hole.

What sort of hole are you shaping yourself to be thrust into?

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