I started this as an email and decided to make it a blog post instead. Hence the format.
I also use two spaces between sentences. Sue me.
At the end of the presentation, I made “secret envelopes” available for everybody. I intentionally did not pass them out in advance. The envelopes were sealed and I asked everybody to wait until they got back to their office (or wherever they were going) to open them. Inside, there was a single piece of paper on which was printed a single word in 12-point monospace font:
Why did I do this?
Because personal branding matters today more than ever. During the presentation, I emphasized the importance of individual branding, how the Air Force drilled it into me that my name wasn’t my name without my middle name or initial, how I had been writing my name as “Erik J. Heels” ever since, and how “ErikJHeels” became my personal brand:
Putting “@” in front of your username is Twitter’s way of identifying your account. So if I say that I’m @ErikJHeels on Twitter, it means that you can follow me at http://twitter.com/ErikJHeels.
I have taken the “@” syntax one step further. I use @ErikJHeels as the name or nickname for my other social networks. For example, the title of my blog and the nickname for my Google Reader Shared Items are both “@ErikJHeels.” This reminds users of other social networks that I’m also on Twitter, which is (by far) my most important social network.
Anybody who took the time to Google @ErikJHeels would have found that about 80% of the search results are from social networks that are controlled or influenced by me. In other words, by creating a consistent brand, you can have both better control of the brand and good search results for the brand, since social networking sites tend to be ranked high in search engines.
As Jerry Seinfeld told George Costanza, always leave ’em wanting more.