April 16, 2006
Rajesh Setty has some unusual advice for IT professionals: stop wasting time in the technology skill-set rat race, and start building your personal brand:
Jack meets Janet and they start talking. Jack explains who he is and what he does for a living and Janet does the same. While Jack is speaking, Janet is very busy trying to "box" Jack.
She's looking for some tag-- "software engineer", "technical architect", "project manager"-- something that will make it easy for her to remember. Of course, Jack is doing the same thing. It's a "boxing" contest.
There's nothing wrong with this approach. We all do it. Here's why: When Janet finishes her meeting with Jack and later meets an old friend Paul, Janet needs an easy way to explain who she met. She'll say, "I met Jack for coffee and he's a software engineer" rather than repeating the whole spiel she just heard from Jack.
There is hope, though. If Jack made a compelling introduction, something memorable and remarkable, Janet would be compelled to say a few more words about Jack. Jack won the "boxing" game.
This requires more than communication skills. You need to be working on something that is remarkable or be remarkable yourself. In other words, you need to be working on your "personal brand."
Mere competence in a technical discipline is not enough. That's the minimum required to keep your head above water. To have a personal brand, you must do something remarkable:
- lead a user group
- create a popular open-source project
- write a blog
- publish a book
- publish articles
- speak at conferences
Do whatever you like. Pick one, pick them all, or pick something that's not on this list.* As long as it's public, and it advances your skills, you're creating a personal brand. And that will help your career far more than technical chops ever will.
Prior to reading this article, I often joked with coworkers that I had a personal branding strategy. The Wumpus is my power animal, which I've placed, well, all over the place:
front license plate
Now I'm not so sure if it's a joke-- or an actual branding strategy.
* This is, of course, a tiny subset of all the remarkable things you could possibly do. Rajesh maintains a Distinguish Yourself lens which has lots of additional ideas.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
lead a user group
let's have a try ...
resistance is futile. you will be assimilated.
obey me you brave readers from coding horror :-)
ps: as a german i just wondered about the word "spiel" ;-)
So I am doing this. But I have not figured out how to transform my resume to sell my brand. Have you seen this done? If so could you give an example, maybe even one done well and one not done well?
I feel like such a Walmart shopper. In my inability to refuse free junk, you've infected my household with your brand.
I can't have the paparazzi showing off a pic of my computer with YOUR Wumpus sticker!
But I have not figured out how to transform my resume to sell my brand
The network effects from these public activities should mean you don't have to transform your resume; people will have already heard of you. And if they haven't, they can evaluate the quality of your work without a resume: just do a google search for your name!
Of course, you'll still need a resume, but it becomes more of a formality, a summary. It's not who you are. Your work should represent you.
Chad Fowler's book covers the personal brand as part of a three pronged approach- choices, skills, and marketing. It has a bit of a odd feel, but building a brand is a something you end up doing, you had might as well put some thought into it so that the message is accurate.
link to some free bits of the book:
Most of the remarkable things are quite difficult. As a peon at my company, half the articles I write get somebody else's name slapped on them and most of the other things are pretty challenging to make happen.
It's difficult, because many of those require some amount of initial notoriety.
yeah, i completely agree with with this post.. you have build your personal brand.
half the articles I write get somebody else's name slapped on them and most of the other things are pretty challenging to make happen
Why release them within the company? Why not go outside to , say.. sourceforge, codeproject, blogs, etc?
I'm thinking of striking out on my own, and thought your Wumpus was incredibly cool.
Is there an online tool I can use to find my power animal without too much actual thought being involved? I'd like an instinctive/intuitive power animal rather than a considered one, and a web form seems like the easiest way to get there.
I am a scorched earth tank, if that helps.
Good post. You need to differentiate from the IT professional commodity. If interested, visit the forum linked here and find the IT Career Thread in the Personal Brand and Career Planning forum - love to here your thoughts. You may also find www.yourindividualbrand.com helpful as it is dedicated to the subject! I hope this helps.
I will do this for my Branding.
Never underestimate the Wumpus.
You've got some brand fragmentation - are you Coding Horror or Wumpus? Maybe Coding Horror, a Wumpus Media Ventures Production?
I, for one, welcome our new Wumpus overlord.