Not everyone is talking about the fact that as an engineer you need a personal brand. This is something we can say not only for software engineers or developers, but everyone in the world needs a personal brand. Whatever your job, you need a personal brand, why? To tell you why you need a personal brand, we first need to define personal branding, then we can talk about why you need a personal brand.
What is personal branding?
The Wikipedia answer:
Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.
@GaryVee’s answer Gary Vaynerchuk is CEO of @Vaynermedia. @VaynerSports @Empathywines. Investor in Twitter, Uber, FB.
Your personal brand is your reputation. And your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career.
My answer is quite the same as Gary, I think personal branding is working on your reputation to build your career around it. Working on your reputation should be a long-term goal, not a short-term one. Don’t expect results in the first weeks/months or even years.
Most people don’t get this! They want to convert customers on the first day. This is the short-term thing I was talking about, trying to extract money from your blog viewers or your audience in LinkedIn, this is what we call being impatient.
For example, if I was impatient, I will publish a book next week titled “Personal Branding For Engineers” and I will try to use this blog and my other social media accounts to sell you this book. The problem here is that I wanted to convert you, the reader of my blog posts, to a customer directly from the first interaction.
The right way to do the conversion is to create a great experience, give you a lot of free value, then say that I’m selling a book about personal branding that you may be interested in. My goal in this example was to create a reputation first as someone who can help you build your personal brand, someone who is giving you value every time you read something he wrote.
To explain this a little bit more, I would bring Apple to the table. Apple never tries to sell you an iPhone directly they have built a reputation of a great iPhone experience that will make you buy an iPhone without them trying to sell it to you.
Personal branding for engineers is a bit different, you are not trying to sell a product, but you are trying to sell your profile to get hired (no matter what the contract is, independent, full-time, part-time … ).
Why I should care about my personal brand?
First, you will need to sit with yourself and think about your long-term goals, you want to get a better job, you want to get a job, you want to sell your services as a consultant for example.
To achieve your goals in the long-term, the best way to do it is to build a personal brand, a good image, a reputation in the world. When you are known in your community as someone kind, honest, and helpful. People will look forward to doing business with you or hire you, because of your reputation.
How can I build a personal brand?
The question you should ask yourself is how can you build a good reputation? in reality and the internet.
In reality, be a good person, helpful, give more than you take. Help your community and people in need. Share your experience with them, they will get value from it for sure.
On the internet, building a good reputation is almost the same as in reality, but through social media platforms. Your presence on these platforms and how you use them is very important to your personal brand.
Here is how you can achieve this:
Document over create
Creating content in social media is a very difficult task. The solution is to document your journey, vlogging is a good example, you share part of what you are doing when you are doing it.
If you are an expert you will be able to create valuable content because you have the expertise in some fields that others don’t, which makes you in a good position to create content.
Don’t put yourself as an expert if you are not one! You have seen an Instagram profile with “e-commerce expert” in the bio, but when you read their posts, you find that they are just trying to sell you something without giving you “the iPhone experience” we talked about.
If they are experts like they say, they should first put out free, valuable content, they can create real content that will help you in the e-commerce world for free. After they have built a reputation you will go and buy their services without them selling them to you directly.
When you don’t have the experience, you should not try to create content the way experts will do, you should instead document your journey to becoming an expert in your field, by sharing about what you are currently learning, what problems you are currently facing, and how you are trying to solve them.
Be yourself, 100% yourself, don’t fake it till you make it!
“Fake it till you make it” is a really bad practice for personal branding. Be yourself and show your true self. Show what you really like to do, no need to show a fancy life, show your true life experience, be authentic!
“Fake” people don’t last long, our goal is to last (long-term over short-term) that’s why we need to be authentic and only show our true selves to the world.
Don’t lie to your followers!
This first part was an introduction to personal branding not just for engineers but you can tell that this advice is for everyone who is looking for building a personal brand, a good reputation, and who is focusing on long-term goals.
In the next parts of this series about personal branding, we will go through each platform and how to use it with a focus on engineers, developers, and consultants.
I hope I provided you today with some free valuable content as part of me building my personal brand and documenting my journey as a software engineer.