Social Media, Personal Branding, and Good Fortune

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My purse was stolen in London by a professional thief. This comes on the heels of leaving my blackberry in a taxi. This comes on the heels of leaving my purse in a restaurant in Washington DC, several weeks ago.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard the words blonde, dumb, ditzy, naive, silly, American and brain tumor. Not that any of this matters. I know who I am, and I don’t have a brain tumor, but I recognize that I am not in control of my personal brand at this moment. Perception is reality, and I am perceived to be a dopey and silly woman who can’t keep her stuff together.

And I don’t care because my reality is amazing.

When I left my purse in a restaurant in DC, I had an associate (whom I’d only met the night before) travel back with me to the restaurant — and the purse was there. My blackberry was lost in a taxi in London, and I put out the word with friends & colleagues on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. A British woman found my phone, went to a mobile phone store to recharge the battery, and called my husband (who is listed as the emergency contact on my screensaver) to notify me that my phone had been recovered. He sent me an email and the phone was back in my hands in 36 hours. My twitter stream and Facebook page lit up with congratulatory wishes. I received heartfelt messages of love and affection. People were genuinely happy for my good fortune.

When my purse was snatched at The Duke of Wellington on Portobello Road by a professional thief, my network jumped into action and offered help at the British Embassy, offered money, and provided immediate assistance. Friends that I know primarily through social media came to my assistance. Michael Long took me to the police station and loaned me some money. Sarah White searched the bar for my purse — and she let me cry without making me feel too girly. Craig Fisher took charge like a recruitment manager and made me trace my steps. He wanted to ensure that I wasn’t mistaken. Although CCTV confirmed it was a thief, Craig made sure I kept a level head.

My British friends and colleagues have been lovely, too. Offering a place to stay. Offering assistance at every turn. What do I need? Money? A place to stay instead of a hotel? Biscuits? Even my taxi driver, upon hearing my story, refused to charge a fare to the police station.

I may be a naive, blonde, American woman with an undiagnosed brain tumor — and we all know that I’m not really blonde — but I have a great life and wonderful people who mean the world to me. I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience the support of a social network AND offer help to your network. I’m not schmaltzy enough to talk about paying it forward or karma, but I am in the debt of so many good people.

I won’t let you down.

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