Personal Branding For Progeeks #4 – Putting It To Use

So you've figured out your personal brand as a professional geek. Now, how do you actually use it and communicate it?

My philosophy of this is pretty simple – you have a core way to define yourself and refer to yourself.  This core manifests in everything you do professionally/progeeky and all of your professional and personal materials.

As for those specific materials . . .

Business Cards:
Always have a "personal" business card that reflects you and who you are, that you can hand to new contacts, potential friends, future employers, etc.  It should fit your "brand."

Progeek Extras:

  • Your fannish/geeky contacts can yield artists that help you create a unique look and design.
  • Consider leveraging your geeky side for a proper design – for instance, my business card looks like a trading card.  Maybe yours will be like a trading card, or have CGI graphics, or something else.
  • You should have links to you website and other possible projects.

Personal/Professional Website:
Your personal/professional website is basically your presence on the web, and a central point for people to find you.  This should have a unique look and feel (like your business card), but also will have a lot more content – this is a chance to describe you, your works, link to your projects, etc.  For a progeek, this is your chance to shine, show off, and give people a full-bore idea of you.

Like any good "brand" your website is also your chance to deliver real value.  You can point to your blog, your writing, art, downloadable code snippets, etc.  This is your chance to put your money where your mouth is.

In general I find a personal website also just impresses the hell out of people.  There's having a resume and using Twitter – then there's going out of the way to have YOU on the web.  It shows you care, and it keeps you in people's minds.

Progeek Extras:

  • If you're a developer, artist, or similar media/tech person your website better show that.  This is your chance to show off.
  • If you're an artist, photographer, etc. your portfolio should be easily accessible from your website or just be part of it.
  • Your design and workflow is going to reflect "you" so make sure it fits the brand you want.  Maybe it looks like a book, or it's artsty, or its serious – but it has to be you.  Being a progeek you have to think carefully on how you portray yourself.

Ah, the resume, that part of the job search we keep waiting to die off, and that never goes away.  Like it or not the resume is going to be here for awhile, so it has to reflect your brand.

This is actually kind of challenging because making a resume is an art, and there are basic techniques that work for almost anyone (I can go on about this for awhile).  At the same time you have to personalize it to reflect your brand.  It's a peculiarly constricting experience.

So in short, you have to make your resume work for you while not making it too outrageously different (unless you're taking the risk that your brand fits outrageously different).

I find the best way to do this is to make sure you have a resume that fits reliable formatting and flow.  Then you customize it to fit you and your brand:

  • Make sure your quick summary fits you and your brand.
  • Work with your fonts, sizes, and formatting to set a given mood.  For instance, my resume is for my Project Management work, and I focus on staid, information-filled, but readable.
  • Consider graphic extras, paper/background colors, etc.
  • Always include your website and project links.

Progeek Extras:

  • If part of your "brand" at all invokes writing, formatting, graphics, etc. then your resume should reflect it.
  • Dull is not a good idea for a resume unless that's part of your brand (trust me, being a bit dull it can work), but it has to be used carefully. 
  • Use your natural progeek sense to put a break on the tendency to "laundry list" resumes or toned-down, lifeless resumes.  If it's not saying "me" then don't do it.

For interviews and with clients, you'll also want to have a look – yep a way to "look" like you.  You'll also want some consistency.

An example from me is that in my cards and on my site you see me in a red shirt.  So when I speak, and in interviews, I wear a shirt of that color.  The fact that becomes so recognizable is very powerful.  If I change my look (which probably is happening) I'll be changing my business card and even parts of my site.

Your look says a lot – the funny tie, the color scheme, the jewelry, the hairstyle.  It communicates a lot.  So when you have your progeek brand, consider how you look as well because your look is speaking all the time.

(Wait until you see my new look, by the way . . . it has a hat).

Progeek Extras:

  • You can say a lot with little things – a piece of jewelry, a button, etc.  That can also communicate geek cred.
  • Find the balance between "professional" and "progeeky" for your audience.  That is a bit of a challenge and can go wrong – my tendancy in the 90's to doing retro-40's looks for interviews backfired despite my awesome fedora.

These are the more prominent ways to support your "Personal Brand" as a progeek.  There are others, so use your imagination (as that's part of who you are anyway).

Steven Savage