by Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW
As you watch your colleagues and social work experts share resources and network online, you might emulate what they do in your personal branding. But what might work for them may not work for you. The approach will be different for everyone, and our unique personalities play a role. Our goals and what we hope to gain in our branding process will naturally vary.
I asked some social workers from different parts of our profession how they approach branding and what they have gained in the process. Good marketing and personal branding ideas might come from those highlighted here, or you may get ideas from many of your friends and colleagues you admire. What you learn, who you meet, and the fulfilling work you do is up to you. I hope these social workers can provide some inspiration for your personal branding efforts.
Social Workers Share Their Perspectives
Jonathan Singer, Ph.D., LCSW, host and founder of The Social Work Podcast and associate professor at Loyola University Chicago, has created a podcast series with a library of episodes on cutting edge topics with experts in the social work profession. “I think of my brand as the Social Work Podcast. As a result, I'm always asking myself, ‘Is this content that listeners of the podcast world find valuable?’ In academia, I'm branded as a suicide prevention guy. But on social media, I see my brand as reflecting anything that will inform and improve social work services,” said Singer.
Singer uses his expertise in social media to educate social workers on the role of technology in social work education and practice. His practice and research expertise is in suicide prevention. He co-authored Suicide in Schools, for school-based professionals to develop and implement effective suicide prevention, assessment, interventio,n and postvention strategies and is a part of Suicide Prevention Social Media Twitter Chats (#SPSM) Sunday nights at 9 p.m. CST.
Deona Hooper, MSW, editor-in-chief of Social Work Helper Magazine, commented, “For those who are engaged in advocacy and awareness, social media is essential in carving one’s self out as an expert in your field, expanding your reach and influence, as well as increase your ability to mobilize resources quickly. However, we must learn to format knowledge in the various forms individuals consume information in order to encourage them to share it with others." Hooper has created an online community for social workers with thousands of followers. Social Work Helper covers pressing current events, politics, and social justice issues. She was an original founder of #MacroSW chat and is a technology and social media consultant.
Samara Stone, LCSW-C, Stone Foundation Center Counseling Group, CEO and Perfected Practice founder and coach, manages a thriving group practice that has served people, practitioners, and the profession since 2005. “Marketing and personal branding is all about communicating your authentic self so you can be visible to the clients that you are uniquely suited to serve. Being intentional with developing a personal brand has made all the difference in building a business that has big impact,” commented Stone. She also coaches other social workers interested in taking the leap to start a business. In presentations, on her website, and in blogs, she strives to help make creating business and marketing strategies seem easy and incorporates discussions about the importance of making money and marketing to helping more people.
Dawn Shedrick, LCSW-R, JenTex, founder & Chief Learning Officer, shared, “I credit the success of my business to a strong brand that blends my experience and skills with an authentic desire for human services professionals to create the careers of their dreams.” Shedrick established JenTex to provide social workers and human services professionals consultation and training for staff development, individual leadership coaching, and private practice development support. She also recently launched Happy Social Workers Society, a social networking community for social workers, and has contributed a chapter to HERspectives: Rules and Tools That Build Successful Women.
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Ph.D., MSW, LCSW, author, relationship expert, and songwriter, offered, “I think of branding as simply applying therapy skills in a different way. Building a cohesive online presence is about showing up as yourself and building relationships of trust that help and inspire.” Hanks has experience owning a private practice and performing, writing award-winning songs, and is frequently sought out by the press to comment on relationship issues. She is the author of The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women and provides personal coaching and private practice consultation.
In these examples, social workers are using branding to establish relationships and present an authentic self. Business owners and private practice practitioners have leveraged their own professional experience to market and promote services, either mental health treatment, training, or self help.
Branding yourself as an advocate for a cause is another avenue for how you can present and promote yourself. As you can see across all these examples, what people are passionate about plays a role in what’s reflected in the brand. Also, all of these social workers have used various tools to communicate, such as publishing books, podcasts and research, creating online communities and Twitter chats, and positioning to be included in media articles. All of these activities play a role in communicating their expertise and raising their visibility.
Please let us know if you would like to share your brand and jump in on our hashtag #YourSWBrand to ask personal branding questions and share what you’re doing. We would love to hear from you.