by Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW
You might not have known that prominent social worker and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski was also a novelist who penned two murder mysteries, Capitol Offense and Capitol Venture, in the mid-1990s. Senator Mikulski is most well known as a tough politician, but discovering this aspect of her interests reveals there’s much more to her than the obvious.
You, too, have special skills that you can integrate into your personal brand. Your activities outside of work are a big part of who you are, and showing another side of yourself can create a more holistic and authentic personal brand.
I have written about authenticity before. Being yourself is just as important as discovering your strengths and challenges and what expertise you bring to the table to solve a problem for your audience. Your hobbies are an extension of what makes you you, and this helps you to connect to people on a personal level.
So, if you sing in the church choir and are proud of this accomplishment, share it. But do exercise judgment, as with anything else, to make sure the audience you are revealing yourself to will appreciate what you have to offer. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Oversharing – When you meet new colleagues and employers, sharing your avid love of coin collecting (or whatever you’re passionate about) can be interesting and display a great skill, such as understanding history or demonstrating an attention to detail. But oversharing your excitement by giving a long dissertation about the best practices of coin collecting might leave some people cold, if you’re not reading the room or your audience correctly. It’s all about balance and sharing just enough about your interests to intrigue, but not overwhelm, people.
- Hobbies Connect You to New Communities – Many times, your involvement in an activity gives you the chance to meet lots of different people who could potentially become good friends or work colleagues. It all starts with this common interest, such as scrapbooking, joining the bowling league, or playing an instrument. It’s not only fun, but popular hobbies can help you network within these groups.
- When Your Extra Curriculars Cross Over to Professional Skills – For social workers, volunteering, writing, or photography are just a few things people do in their spare time that require skills that can carry over to your professional life. If there is a community cause that you love organizing events for, the skills in doing this work could be applied to creating similar events for your work at a nonprofit organization. Writing, and becoming a persuasive or creative writer, can be utilized for advocacy, nonprofit PR, or grantwriting. These hobbies can also be a value add on your résumé or LinkedIn profile. When you love doing something, it can become a part of your job or career.
The bottom line is that if you do anything you love, this shines through in your personal brand and shows you’re a well-rounded person with a diverse and creative view of the world. Sharing yourself in an authentic way will attract the right people and opportunities that best suit you.
On that note, this is my last Your Social Work Brand post, and I have loved developing this column. It has allowed me to do what I love (writing) and to explore the intriguing topic of personal branding. You can still ask me questions about personal branding through my website at www.kristinbattistafrazee.com.
Thanks so much to Linda Grobman for giving me this forum.
Having Fun with Your Personal Brand, Fast Company
Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW, is an author, marketing professional, and social worker. In addition to writing The New Social Worker's "Your Social Work Brand" column, she is the author of The Pornographer's Daughter (Skyhorse, 2014). She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Florida State University and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.