Never let 'em see your brand.Princess Alethea delightfully brought this manifesto by Maureen Johnson to my attention. Go read it - really, it'll spawn a new window. I'd only be a pale imitation, anyway.
Read it? Good.
See where I said that I'd only be a "pale imitation" of what Maureen wrote? That's exactly right. While I agree with her and Lee (not in vocabulary, but in principle), I couldn't have captured that passion for the topic the way she did. It's her thing.
That's what this is all about, and that's what Lee and Maureen (and quite a few other people - off the top of my head, Jim C. Hines, Jean Rabe, Beth Vaughan, Anton Strout, Don Bingle, and Tobias Buckell come to mind, and I'm certainly leaving folks out) get.
Mike Stackpole turned me on to Crush It!. I just started re-reading it last week. It was a miserable week for me at the day job, and I needed some inspiration. Thoughts of "being your brand" have been high in my mind lately.
But "being your brand" is like makeup. If you notice someone "being their brand" (or notice their makeup), they're doing it wrong.
The people who think you have to do certain things or act in certain ways, who insist on monetizing everything... they're the stone-age folks who still think networking is about what you can do for them.
Really, folks, it's about just being yourself and being awesome. Be yourself - both the good and the bad. Be awesome, as much as you can, because it's fun.
Examples? Of course.
As far as I'm concerned, Alethea is The Fairy GodPrincess. Anton (who's next book is coming out, y'all - I already pre-ordered it!) is the guy who took it well when I was lukewarm on his first book - and still gave me a fair critique at GenCon. Jim C. Hines has been so freaking patient with me, it's not even funny (though I saw the sporks behind his back once...), and his books always seem to arrive just when I need a fun break from the "real world". Tobias Buckell has taken time out of his day to share his experiences with eBooks, and is one of the few people I know who not only has width, but breadth enough to outpace me on political, social, and economic matters (it shows in his blog). Beth Vaughan (whose Warloard and Star Series are fantasies, I don't care if they're called "romance"...) made me feel welcome when I showed up late for a writer's conference, and invited me to breakfast the next year at GenCon. (Her next book is out in May, and yeah, I've pre-ordered it too...)
You get the idea. These things, the way these people naturally are is what makes them their brand. I could write for hours just with one-line sentences about the awesome people I've met who have been awesome towards me. I do my best to be awesome for them as well - one small example being how I helped Jim with analyzing a survey he did and converting one of his books to digital formats.
Thinking of your "brand" as something to polish and market is going about it all wrong. Thinking of networking as a way to get favors is also going about it all wrong. It's not about you.
How do you socially network?
Be yourself, all the good and bad together.
Be awesome to other people.
Do what brings you joy.
I can't wait for con season to start for me. One month until Millennicon!
And for you youngin's, this is what the title refers to - where you're never supposed to let them see the real you.