Personal Branding for Students12th February 2007
Hey listen, have you got a feel for your brand?21st February 2007
Rajesh Setty, author of Beyond Code: Learn to Distinguish Yourself in 9 Simple Steps!, has written a free 40-page ebook on Personal Branding for Technology Professionals. The principles he sets out are valuable not just for technologists, but to everyone. Here are my reflections on what he says:
- build your brand before you need it: too many professionals start thinking about their next job or client only when their current one is over or almost over. The time to start thinking about it, however, is as soon as you’ve won the current one!
- give and get lots of help: building a brand is about creating value for other people. As I explained in my last post, you should look for ways to help those who are best placed to help you: they’ll be more inclined to help you, and if you need to call on them they’ll remember who you are
- leverage all your projects: if you don’t manage your brand then you’re only as good as your last project or piece of work. If you go through the full cycle of the personal brand strategy, from discovering what your brand is, through finding ways to express it, to building it into the way you live your personal and professional life, you can make sure that people are aware of, and take into account, all of your skills, experience and accomplishments
- Practice patience: creating a strong personal brand is not a 5 minute exercise of writing an elevator pitch and getting some glossy business cards printed. It takes time and effort. Not everything you try will work first time, but you have to be ready to learn from the failures, pick yourself up and keep going. I once managed to accidentally spam 50,000 people. My inbox was full of what amounted to hate mail for days, my internet account was suspended and various people thereatened me with everything from ethics tribunals to investigation by the US Secret Service (I’m not sure that their jurisdiction extends to rural England though, so I’m pretty sure I was safe). Over the days that followed though, I put in place a recovery strategy, and slowly the mail turned into praise for how I had handled the situation. One of these days I’ll have to blog it so that others can learn from my mistake, and my follow-up.
- Be comfortable with being uncomfortable: the world is changing all the time. Sometimes you just have to go out on a limb, but the people you interact with will know if you’re congruent, and comfortable with yourself, or if you’re faking it. LIke I said above: be prepared for failures, and be aware that a failure is just an opportunity to learn and to do it better next time
- Balance is critical: I’ve lost count of the number of professionals I meet (especially, as it happens, technologists) who spend all their time with their head down, doing good work and waiting for recognition. Then they discover personal branding, and all of a sudden that takes up all their energy and time. Then I have to remind them that the branding process is not everything: they need to balance it with all the stuff they used to do before, too. That’s just one way in which a brand strategist can help: by providing tools and guidance to ensure that you’re covering all the bases and making progress but not at the expense of their career