I am not good at self-promotion; I never have been. When I recently enrolled in a course that included working on personal brand, I knew it was going to involve some personal discomfort.
As has become my custom, I immediately made a link to the book I am reading at the moment, Grace under pressure by Tori Haschka. Tori has published a couple of cookbooks, but this is her first novel. She was recommended by a friend and I am loving the book, it is so relatable. Amongst all the other chaos going on in the story, the main character, Grace, who is also a published cook, is working to maintain her personal brand. The constant effort of having to contrive regular ‘on brand’ social media posts is exhausting. There are just so many social expectations to juggle.
So, what is my brand? I am a generalist; I am good at a bunch of things but not exceptional. I love travel, exploring the outdoors, reading, writing, and taking photos. I also enjoy cooking and listening to music. I am by no means an expert in any of these fields. The self-help books tell me I just need to find my own little niche to make the most of the unique combination of skills that I have and excel there. But I can name at least half a dozen people that I follow on social media who are already covering a very similar combination of interests. I need to identify my point of difference.
If I am researching and writing about reducing plastics does my brand need to reflect that, and do I need to be a perfectionist or just conscientious? I struggle with perfectionism at the best of times, so I eagerly grasp at sites that tell me it is ok not to get it right all the time. It can be hard to know if I am making the best choices for people and planet as new advice emerges so regularly.
I believe a healthy planet contributes to a healthy mind and body, and vice versa. I do what I can to be mindful about what I consume by eating healthier and avoiding plastic packaging. When I go out, I take a reusable cup and water bottle and my own shopping bags. I hate throwing anything out (much to the consternation of my husband) and I reuse items as much as possible. I am not perfect. Sometimes I buy things in plastic wrap and sometimes my family asks me to buy a 10kg box of Darrell Lea chocolates in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown and I do, and I post about it.
I connected to Instagram because I wanted to look at nice photos, and that’s what I try to post. My feed is highly curated. It is mostly photos taken on my iPhone but I only post what I consider to be the more extra-ordinary of occurrences. Does this make it inauthentic? It definitely limits the posting possibilities when stuck in lockdown, but it is a way to share some joy.
Instagram, and now this blog, are my creative outlets. It is an aspect of my personality that I had not paid much attention to until recently. Now I appreciate the significance of a creative outlet. I have realised that the greater buzz comes from contributing rather than consuming. This lesson probably applies to many aspects of life. There is joy in reflecting on my own experiences rather than looking elsewhere.
But how do I sum this all up into a brand? How do I project the person I want to be, a person that is interesting and worthy of employment? How do I encapsulate this in my social media posts amidst the many expectations that are imposed on being a citizen in the world today? And how do I align this with my skills and experience. I don’t have the answers and I don’t really expect you to either.
I am a working mother and part-time researcher with a passion for the natural environment. I have been hugging trees since I could walk. I have over 15 years’ experience working in leadership roles in the government and collaborating across disciplines, including conservation, tourism, heritage, and property services. My writing experience ranges from academic texts on protected area management to Ministerial speeches. I work to understand every side of a problem and find creative solutions. I connect research to practical outcomes. I am a realist who is focused on the positive changes we can make for the benefit of the environment (human and non-human). I enjoy work that aligns with my values and challenges me to grow. I believe in balance in all aspects of life.