Last column I discussed brainstorming techniques to help you come up with your "Progeek Personal Brand". It was a case of self-examination and defining yourself with less and less words so you got a good handle on how you want to portray yourself.
For a lot of people this exercise may not be for them, or it may be a bit too general. For others, they'll want some reference points to know what they're looking for. For both of them, let me present several Progeek Personal Brands I've seen in real life:
The Professional Geek – Pretty much this is me. This is the person who has turned their hobbies and interests into a career, and is aggressively professional about it. Professional Geeks are big into news, trends, knowledge, and processes. You'll usually find them in programming, writing, management, and analysis.
Auntie Mame/Uncle Mame – The wild and fun older geek who often shares their wisdom or helps younger geeks in the ways of the world. These type of professional geeks are often mentors and run with a younger crowd, and may even prefer it. Also "The Lwaxana Troi" if you prefer.
The Sophisticate – The Sophisticate is often aggressively geeky, but in a smooth and cool way. Much like the Professional Geek they leverage their geeky knowledge and skills, but tend to be more "smooth" that the at-times wonkish Professional Geeks. You'll find some of these folks in art, social media, and marketing – almost always creative fields.
The Fantrepreneur (with thanks to Rob Barba) – The geek who turned their hobby into their own business. Fantrepreneurs tend to be dedicated (or they don't last long), practical (or they don't last long), and have deep knowledge of their subject. They are dedicated to their community/subculture.
The Specialist – The specialist is good at something and really doesn't care otherwise. They're into their "thing", quite good at it, and happily aren't that interested in what's outside their scope. "No" is part of their personal brand, and showing why they're good is a big part of the brand as well. You find this progeek in sales, programming, and engineering.
The Different– Know those people who don't care about stuff that's mainstream? The Different has made it into a brand – they like what they like, do what they do, and often flout convention. Their aggressive "differentness" clearly debarks them from others. Their brand is one of outright honesty tinges with an effort to distinguish themselves, and are a peculiar opposite number to The Sophisticate. The Different is the domain of artists, creative types, technical people, and those of odd interests.
The Enthusiast – The Enthusiast likes some things a LOT, and they're very enthusiastic about it. The Enthusiast's brand is one of not only liking something and doing something, but sharing it to the utmost. Enthusiasts are people you find in sales, creative fields, marketing, art, and at times education. They're similar to the Specialist, except they tend to think broader and be more of an evangelist.
The Glad Scientist – The Glad Scientist likes to experiment with their passions, and is happy to do it. They're the people who play with new ideas, code, programming, and what have you and are always thinking out of the box (if they can find the box). The Glad Scientist is like the Enthusiast, but they're more into modifying things than convincing people.
I hope that gives you some ideas of Progeek Personal Brands. For that matter – which one is you?
– Steven Savage