Personal branding, in my opinion, is the method of influencing those around you with your attention to detail, work ethic, business practices, social interactions, and what you bring to the table. Your brand can consist of projects you have designed, scripts you have built, operations you have streamlined, and tasks you have automated. Furthermore, in the world of technology, your personal brand can include your social media presence, blogs, apps, and websites.
At every stage of your career, from high school and beyond, people are searching for your online presence. Having served in the U.S. Air Force, your personal brand and online persona were thoroughly scrutinized before and during your time of service. As an IT professional, you have access to highly sensitive databases of information and are often in charge of protecting your company’s interests from cyber threats. By taking control of your personal brand online, you may control the narrative, instead of letting someone else do it for you.
While many have not used the term before, your personal brand exists all around you. For coworkers, your personal brand is the first thought they have when you get assigned to their team to assist with a project. If you are known to go above and beyond what is expected in your daily duties, your personal brand will reflect on this, fundamentally communicating with your new team before you even enter the room. On the other hand, if you are notorious for disrupting workflow, your team will already be dreading associating with you. Another way I look at personal brands is your aura; essentially, the energy you produce.
In the marketing world, personal branding is defined as the process of developing and maintaining people and their careers as brands. Per David McNally in the book ‘Be Your Own Brand,’ “your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you” (McNally, 2011). Celebrities use their personal brands by merely slapping their name on different business ventures, giving them free advertising and recognition. For those in IT, your personal brand may be your degrees, certifications, work history, or publications. For example, when you get assigned to manage a company-wide Windows 10 deployment across multiple continents, your personal brand serves as a stamp of approval, placing your whole collective works and accolades onto the project, giving those who manage you, and those who you manage, assurance of your ability to perform.
Reputation is everything, as getting started in many professions, especially IT, comes down to who you know, not what you know; however, after that initial introduction, your personal brand begins to develop and impact those around you. Much like Dr. Emoto’s negativity experiment with rice, positive energy directed towards your profession and those around you can pay off tremendously. No matter where you are in your IT career, from helpdesk to CTO, build and maintain your personal brand; it is what enters a room before you and what is left behind after you leave.
McNally, David. (2011). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. ‘Be Your Own Brand, 2nd Edition: Achieve More of What You Want by Being More of Who You Are’.