Monday, Oct 28 2013

Building Your Personal Brand Can Help You Advance Your IT Career

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You know better than anyone how technology can revolutionize systems, so it shouldn't be a shock that one of those revolutions is how landing new opportunities and moving forward in your career are being changed by the social web.

Resumes are becoming passe, and taking their place is the concept of “personal brand” - signature traits, achievements, and contributions that reflect what you alone bring to the table. Your personal brand is your reputation, your work legacy, your defining role in the industry. Careful cultivation can create a personal brand that will open up doors as you progress along your career path.

Be the Next . . . You!

Many people have tried to predict who will be 'the next Steve Jobs'. Will it be Jeff Bezos? Elon Musk? You? The problem with trying to the next someone else is that it isn't authentic. Your personal brand has to be just that – personal. It's that unique intersection between your knowledge, experience, and passion—and how you share that with those around you in the workplace.

Figuring out your personal brand is as simple – and as difficult – as taking a look at your top traits and what you are known for. Are you a usability evangelist? Do you educate people about quality assurance? Are you seen as a great team leader, or viewed as a lone wolf visionary? Look at the consistency of your work; does it have a theme? What do you know the most about and how do you communicate it? How does that tie into your career goals? Leverage the best of what you have to offer, and how you offer it, to purposely develop your brand and its message.

Get Social to Get Noticed

Now that you've gotten a good start on identifying your personal brand, a large part of its development will be networking to help others identify it. While it's not all about who you know, that does play a significant part in ensuring doors are opened to you.

LinkedIn, BranchOut, and Google+ are three excellent social networking sites with a more professional focus. Work hard on your LinkedIn profile – don't just view it as your online resume. Join industry groups and interact with them. Follow industry influencers on LinkedIn and elsewhere, making sure to comment on articles. Be as useful as possible without fawning over them. Add valuable insight to keep the discussion going, and you'll soon stand out. Hone your writing skills to make sure you communicate well – it's going to come in handy...

Create a Voice Worth Sharing

The next level of building your personal brand is creating and sharing your own content. If you've paid attention to what and how the IT leaders are sharing, you should have a sense of the kind of content that's valuable to your industry. It's time to add your voice.

There are multiples ways your brand can deliver its messaging: A blog on your own site, guest posts on respected industry blogs, forums and groups, whitepapers, participating in an open source project, speaking at or leading a seminar, even 'micro-blogging' and delivering nuggets of wisdom on Twitter. Your first priority is to create valuable content; your second is to promote it. This hierarchy should guarantee that your focus is serving others – the reverse will come across loud and clear that you're not ready to lead and therefore not worthy of followers.

Branding tells the story about what you 'produce' and why, but it's not just about promoting yourself. If you want a brand that communicates how you are the right choice for that next step up, it has to be about how you are really qualified. Otherwise, your brand will simply become more noise lost in a busy online world.

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