Last week I discussed just why Personal Branding is important for geeks in their careers – and in some ways more important than usual for information-driven folks like ourselves. So the question comes down next – how do you do it?
Well, I could point you at "Me 2.0", (which got updated), which you should read. But I'd also like to share my philosophy on the subject.
So here's a quick-and-dirty guide to personal branding – as a Progeek.
Discovery Phase: Sit down and ask who you are and what you do. Write out words, sentences, paragraphs, whatever fits you. Go on, and just dump it all out – anything from "likes cats" to a three-paragraph description of your humanistic philosophy of network management.
Personal Note: I discovered my love of Japanese cooking fit my "brand" – I like fast, precise, nutritious food, and my interest in Asian culture led me to discover Japanese cooking.
Rediscovery Phase: Go through that huge braindump and start coming up with short phrases and descriptions that sum you up. Organize it a bit into a series of concise sentences and traits. Sure, you'll have to change or leave some things out – that's the point. There is, after all "you" and then there's YOU.
Personal Note – One of my favorite stories about this is how I went into management. I was always the organizer of things – if I'd paid attention earlier I'd have seen being a Project Manager was in my cards.
Undiscovery Phase: Go through this list you have and see what really isn't core to you and who you are. This is an interesting phase where you'll find out a lot about yourself because you have to as what you are not, and what you've been trying to be that you're not. Start crossing things off your list – and for that matter, it doesn't hurt to make a list of things you distinctly don't do.
Personal Note: As much as I like people? I found I'm not a salesperson type – though I've been told I could be in marketing. I just don't DO sales.
What you end up after this is a list of traits that define you. Think of them like specs to a computer, or a car, or a role-playing character (though you may have so many you may think you're playing Runequest). So next up?
Now I want you to take all of those words and describe yourself as a series of bullet points – organize them a bit. Make them more like that product spec, that character sheet, whatever your favorite form of organization is. Don't forget to leave things out as well.
It's time to start crafting the ways you describe yourself – to both others and yourself. This is creating brand. This is deciding who you are and what to communicate.
Step 1:Got that sheet? Good. Now turn it into a paragraph describing you as accurately and interestingly and positive as possible. This can take a surprising amount of time. This may give you copy on your website, or to use in an interview.
Step 2: An after that paragraph? Describe yourself in a sentence. Yes, one sentence, and you can't make it insanely run-on. This is your 30-second elevator pitch opener.
Step3: OK, you finally got that paragraph. Now describe yourself in a few words, like an RPG class description
What you've just done is examined yourself and found how to communicate yourself. You've got a long description and a handy catchphrase, as well as sentence you can use in a resume or on Twitter. You've got the basics of your "white sheet" or "ad copy" or "elevator pitch"
Next up, we'll talk some common kinds of Progeek brands you may see – or find fit you . . .