Developing your personal brand

This post is Day #2 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

As I stated in my first article in this series everyone should have a personal brand. And most of us already do. We have a career history in which we have interacted with dozens of people. Their opinions of us and our own knowledge help define us as our personal brand.

However, before we dive into using some of the tools needed to develop your brand through social media you need to step back and think about what your goals are for the future. You need to think about where you are now and where you want to be. Your brand can evolve over time and most likely it will, but you want to make sure that it does so on a logical path.

Let say today you are a junior software developer in a large company. You are the proverbial small fish in the big pond. You do not want to remain unnoticed forever and you know the career path you want for yourself. Perhaps you are looking to move up to intermediate and then senior developer all within the next 3-5 years. You are unsure if this will be in the same company or if you will move around. If it is the latter then you will definitely need to promote yourself.

The whole idea for this junior developer is how do you want others to see you? This is one of the main tenets of personal branding. You need to single yourself out from the pack. You need to choose an angle or a technology to focus on. An angle could be that you always deliver on your deadlines or that you are the best problem solver within your team. You can also focus on a certain technology. If you are brilliant with Microsoft SharePoint then you could become a SharePoint guru. The same with Ruby on Rails, PHP, etc.

This leads into another main point about branding yourself and that is focus on what your brand does for others. You want to be able to demonstrate to others what it is you can bring them. Your brand is all the experience you have gained in a specific area and it is this that a prospective company is hiring your for. If you are excellent at SharePoint your rates might be higher but it also means you can work faster and get the job done to their specifications. The same is true for our junior developer. His lack of experience can be offset by his willingness to work cheaper but diligently.

The third thing you want to think about before getting started is how will you keep your brand updated? The logical starting place for creating your new brand image will be your resume. It is your listing of all the skills you have attained up to this point. As you develop your brand you will need to keep your various social media platforms up to date. Tools like LinkedIn and your blog will need to be constantly revised to reflect your new skill levels. So a mind shift needs to take place because instead of updating your paper resume before your next job search you will update your profiles as your skills grow.

Working on the previous three points of your personal brand before working with the social networking tools can save time later and it can give your branding more focus. You can think about things in the abstract and then in fine detail before you execute on them. You thus get a more consistent brand image.

By taking the step of developing a personal brand you are taking charge of your career path. You are not relying on a company or manager to choose your route for you. In essence it makes you responsible for the success or failure of your career. If you have a brand and are well known for it you will find that companies and recruiters will start coming to you. And whether you are looking to change jobs or not, the feeling of being wanted is a nice feeling to have.

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About Ken Cenerelli
I am a Programmer Writer, .NET Developer, Microsoft MVP - Visual Studio and Development Technologies, Public Speaker, Blogger, and Microsoft Azure Nerd. I blog regularly at kencenerelli.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter via @KenCenerelli.

One Response to Developing your personal brand

  1. Pingback: 10 tips on submitting a conference session proposal | Ken Cenerelli

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