The Ultimate Self-Branding Marketing Tool

On the second day of the iConnections: Discourse and Illumination Conference, Professor Michael (Mike) Eisenberg facilitated a workshop (Illuminating Your Research Agenda) designed to help PhD student’s begin to think about their future as information professionals. It covered several topics ranging from how to give effective presentations to where individuals see themselves after graduation.

Their were several very meaningful activities that we went through. One of the exercises we did highlighted the importance of having a 60 to 90 second speech. It is essentially a marketing tool to have in your back pocket at all times.  You never know when you’ll need it, but having it will give you a competitive edge. It can come in handy at hotel lobbies, fundraiser events, job talks, and even those long TSA checkpoints. Having one prepared will ensure you have the words necessary to appropriately represent yourself. Enough about the benefits, here is what you have to do:

Exercise 5: Read and Complete

Audience: Single person – tenured Faculty member

Situation: At a conference or event. You meet a faculty member from a school where you think you would like to work. The faculty member says, “So, tell me a little about yourself and what you’re studying.”

Content: Bio & summary of research interests (or dissertation topic).

Format: 1-on-1 conversation (sitting)

After a few moments of brainstorming I came up with the following response:

My name is Lassana Magassa and I am a PhD student at the University of Washington. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the role gatekeepers and other stakeholders play in efforts to bridge digital inequalities that prevent the advancement of an information literate society. This interest can take many manifestations. The one I will be investigating while at the University of Washington is the role of prisons (as a stakeholder) in preparing incarcerated people for a technology driven society. This interest is being motivated by several things. Beginning with the fact that over 90% of people incarcerated will be released back into the community at some point in time. Unless they have the opportunity to gain the necessary skill-sets there is an increased likelihood that they will return back to prison. With regards to an information society, technology is becoming ubiquitous. As a result technology and success (economic, socio, etc) have become synonymous. It is nearly impossible to function without a core set of technology skills. As a result you see things like infants utilizing iPads. Also the government has moved a lot of information and services to the online environment and dedicating funds to increasing the number of people who are online. Because of this increased importance, many underrepresented groups have gained representation in discussions designed to ensure they are not left behind.With the exception of this one (incarcerated groups) and so that is why I have decided to focus on them. This is well aligned with my general interests.

It may not the be most stellar response, but it is definitely a suitable start. I’ll revisit the activity in 12 months and see how I articulate my interests then. Now, back to the exercise. The next part of the exercise consisted of sharing it in a group of three people and getting feedback. The last part consisted of several people reading aloud their 60-90 secret weapons (otherwise known as speech).

Among the suggestions that were given at that point was the importance of stay away from “useless” words. Words that don’t add an ounce worth of meaning or value to what you are saying. Some of these “throw away words” include: Basically, Mainly, Generally, Truthfully & Honestly.

A 60-90 second speech with no “fluff” will help you brand yourself. So get started on yours.

Don’t forget to practice it!

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