The cynic’s guide to building a personal brand

September 14, 2017


The idea of developing one’s personal brand might give a cynical tech professional the heebie jeebies. After all, no one likes a shameless self promoter.

But that characterization is not entirely fair.

When potential employers Google you (and they do), they want to know what you stand for, personally and professionally. Developing a brand is nothing more than defining what you stand for — and making sure others know it.

And then there’s this: You already have a brand, whether you’ve created it consciously or not. So it makes sense to shape it — lest it shape you. Here’s how.


Stand for Something, and Stand Out
Get clear on what you’re about. No need for formal branding exercises; keep it simple by asking: “What do I stand for?” You can stand for something specific — like a side project or social cause — or something values based: authenticity, relationships, rebelliousness. Then ask: “Do my colleagues and contacts know that this is what I’m about?”

If not, close the gaps. Someone who is fanatical about the craft of coding, for instance, has the opportunity to become a thought leader — but only if others know it.  


Build a Site
If you’re in tech, it’s likely you spend hours on everyone’s site but your own. That’s a mistake, as this is home base for your brand. Just as your brand is an extension of who you are, your site should be a personal reflection of what makes you unique. A platform like Squarespace is customizable, allowing you to tell the story you want. Develop content that aligns with what your audience needs, whether that’s a blog or professional portfolio. And don’t neglect aesthetics. Just because you’re not a designer doesn’t mean ugly is ok. Select from a host of sleek templates, like the one above.



Go Public
Take it public on social. Before you post, always ask if you’re writing in service of your audience. Will they value this tweet? Emphasize “pull content” — information readers want, like advice on coding — over “push content,” marketing about you. Instead of talking at your audience, create a conversation with give and take, questions and replies.
TIP: If you dislike some specific social media platform, drop it and focus on the ones you like.  



Give Back
Volunteer for a cause that matters to you. The social service sector needs the skills of business professionals in particular. The Taproot Foundation connects nonprofits with volunteers, including developers, marketers, HR professionals, designers and more. Working on a pro bono basis, they complete projects for those nonprofits. People remember you for what you give.


Photos via Shutterstock and Squarespace.

Need a site to support your brand? Try Squarespace.  

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