The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity, and accountability.
We each have a personal brand. Some of us work on building it while others may just let it happen. It helps to be conscious of the parts that make up your personal brand. Most of my technology friends may ignore this fact. To really stand out though you want to work at making a brand that is exceptional.
Never try to be someone you are not. As you build your personal brand make sure it is authentic. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” So while you may want to imitate some famous tech titan, it is best to be yourself.
Recently we tried a new restaurant. We were quite impressed with the people working there and the food. A few weeks later we decided to come back. The next visit was completely different. It was busy and the quality was poor. Just like with a restaurant how you perform is part of your brand. Focus on making it a good thing. Take pride in the work you do day after day. The hallmark of a true professional is doing a good job day in and day out.
Technology people tend to move around more than many other industries. This makes something like a LinkedIn profile important. Essentially it starts with your online resume for a profile. Then you can add your connections and recommendations. Of course, some people avoid it as many recruiters will contact you. This is not always a bad thing. They can be helpful when you are looking for new opportunity.
It always is helpful to be part of the community. Technology communities can be quite tight-knit ones. Working in Des Moines for almost twenty years I am always amazed at the strong community. Even though Des Moines is not a major market, we have many strong technology groups. Our local .Net Group and Agile Iowa are quite strong. Each has yearly conferences that draw huge crowds. One great way to build your brand is to get involved with your local community.
A few years ago I got involved in a group. I reluctantly began to be an officer in the group. Looking back it was a great opportunity to participate and give back. I helped the group grow and transition. We all think we are too busy to be involved. I would recommend trying it out. You will learn more than you can imagine. Plus you may find something that you are good at in the process.
Building your brand means you. Don’t create a brand by copying someone you don’t have permission to copy. This happens online when people see a great design for something and decide to copy it. Also, organizations have guidelines on what you can share and how you can share it. For instance, if your company is acquiring another that is probably not something you have permission to share.
One great way to understand your personal brand is to ask other people. Ask them what they think your brand is. You might find some interesting responses. If you don’t like what you hear perhaps you have some work to do. Find others who have a stronger brand. Look at how they created the brand and there may be some lessons there.