I did my first ever talk, this month, at the Umbraco UK Festival 2018, aka UMBUK9. Well, technically it was my second ever talk, but my first talk was at a local JavaScript meetup and only 8 people turned up, 4 of them were organisers and the rest were there for the free beer and pizza. It was pancake day so that was my excuse for the low turnout.

Anyway, for this talk I decided to talk about how you can boost your career by creating a personal brand. It's something that I'm very passionate about and something that I think we as developers are quite poor at or even ignorant to. So as I have a blog I thought it would be good to share my talk with you readers too, and if the video gets released I will share that in this post as well. Here goes:

What is a personal brand?

It's your professional reputation, it's what you are known for in a community. It's the perception that other people have of you based on what they have seen of you.

It's what differentiates you from other people in the same field, a set of core values that you should aim to have and uphold. I personally aim to be approachable, share knowledge and experience with others and see projects through to completion.

It is your online presence, social media, personal websites, work blog posts.

It is how you market yourself as a professional, proactively, rather than being reactive when you need to apply for a new job.

Why is a personal brand important?

Here are just a few reasons why it is important to create and develop your personal brand:

It will help you get a promotion. If you are working on your personal brand, you are making people aware of your skills, talents and achievements. Your employers will take more notice if you are working on your personal brand, you will be making them aware too which can in turn lead to promotion.

Following on from the above point, with promotion comes a pay rise.

If you are representing yourself well with a good personal brand, that will help raise the profile of your company. It shows the caliber of staff they employ. 

You may get a new job at a different company. Perhaps there is a company you would love to work for. How do you get them to take notice of you even before you apply to work there? By creating a personal brand, having an online presence and being known to other companies, you become attractive as a potential employee.

By working on your personal brand you will be sharing your content and thoughts with a community. In doing this, you will become part of a community and this in my opinion is one of the best reasons for working on your personal brand. The Umbraco community is a fantastic one to be a part of, and by contributing more myself I get a lot more out of it.

One of the most important reasons for creating a personal brands is give you other options if for some reason you may face redundancy. You may not know it is coming, but think how much of a better position you will be in if you are already known within a community and you already have a public profile and portfolio that others are already aware of. When the time comes to find a new job in the face of redundancy, you will already have a leg up.

"Your personal brand serves as your best protection against business factors you can't control."

Dan Schawbel

An example from Twitter

Kevin was looking for a white paper on why Umbraco is a great choice for a CMS over the likes of WordPress. I was trying to give him reasons, but each of them could be countered with a reason why WordPress is equally as good. 

Then it dawned on me. He needed to work out what his unique selling points were, what was his personal brand? If he could do a good job of getting that across to the client then if they wanted him, they would have to switch to Umbraco.

 

“Personal Branding is all about your unique promise of value and what you bring to the table. It's (also) about getting your potential clients to choose you as the only solution to their problem.”

Dr Sarah David

Examples of good personal brands

Troy Hunt

Security Expert

Blogger

Pluralsight Author

Speaker

havibeenpwned.com

troyhunt.com

Julie Lerman

Entity Framework and Database Expert

Blogger

Pluralsight Author

Speaker

thedatafarm.com

 

“Personal Branding is about building authority that gets people to pay attention to your message and want to share it and recommend it to others.”

Mark Traphagen

Examples from the Umbraco Community

Ismail Mayat

Examine Guru

Blogger

Senior Developer and Trainer at The Cogworks

ismailmayat.wordpress.com

Alex Skrypnyk

Our Umbraco Legend

17200+ karma points

Developer at Umakers.dk

The John Skeet of Umbraco

Would you want to work with or hire these people?

Of course you would. You feel like you already have a good insight into what type of person they are as a professional. They have done a good job of creating a personal brand, having an online presence that we as a tech community have taken notice of.

Are they the only talented people in the industry?

No of course not. You are probably just as talented as they are, possibly more.

What's the difference?

They might just be doing a better job of marketing themselves than you are.

Ways to create and improve your personal brand

1. Blogging

In my opinion creating a blog is the best thing you can do to create and maintain a personal brand. You are giving yourself a platform to share your knowledge, experience and best practice.

You will be able to create an online portfolio which can showcase the work you have done and what you are interested in.

It is the best way to market yourself. If you are a designer or front end developer, it is a chance to show your skills with the look, feel and experience delivered by your website.

Why not use Umbraco for your blog. You could develop and host it yourself. It would be great experience for you as you are now the editor of the site rather than the developer / designer.

You could host it on Umbraco Cloud and not have to worry about the hosting side of things.

uSkinned

If you are thinking of creating your own blog, you want to use Umbraco but don't want to develop it yourself, you can buy a ready made starter kit from uskinned.net. They create awesome looking websites which are fully content managed using the latest version of Umbraco. It's easy to set up and have a site running in no time.

As a special reward for watching this talk or reading this blog post, uSkinned have given me a special discount code CODESHARE25 If you enter this code at the checkout, you will get 25% off any of their themes. You need to hurry though. This offer will expire on 1st December 2018.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your online CV, if you are serious about having a personal brand and marketing yourself, you should definitely make sure you have an up to date LinkedIn profile, complete with your Career History and skills.

You can connect with peers around the world. I like the people you may know feature, I add anyone who has the title of developer, programmer, designer, project manager, director, and recruiter etc. These are my peers and recruiters who can help me to find a new job if needed.

You write posts on LinkedIn, like you can on Facebook, but you can also write articles which are shared within a section called LinkedIn pulse. It allows people from outside of your circles to read your articles based on keywords and titles they are interested in.

Another great tool to use within LinkedIn is the Groups section. You can connect with communities of people and share your blog posts with them. Some groups have over 300,000 members so that's a large potential audience who may be interested in what you have to say.

3. Twitter

Twitter is a great platform for you to share your personal brand. You can share your articles, tweet relevant articles to the niche that you focus on.

You can join in with a community hashtag such as #umbraco. People from that community will see your tweets and articles and will get to know you.

Follow influential people to get ideas and inspiration.

Comment on other people's tweets and articles. Have a discussion where other people can see your replies showing that you are knowledgeable in that field and willing to engage with others.

4. GitHub

Every developer should have a github/gitlab account. Somewhere to store the code for the open source projects they have created or contribute to.

This will help with the online portfolio and will allow others to see the type of code you write, without the need for you to do a test in some cases.

Why not try to get your Contributor badge on Our Umbraco?

5. Forums

I've already mentioned the Our Umbraco forum, this is a great place to show that you know what you are talking about. You can get into discussions and learn from other people's answers.

Answer questions on websites like Stack Overflow (yes you can answer questions on there too, it's not just about searching for an answer and then copying and pasting it into your project).

If you do have a blog, create an rss feed for it and submit it to the Our Community blog posts feed.

6. Other blogging platforms

You don't have to create your own website to start blogging, there are other platforms out there which make it easy to get started like:

medium.com

dev.to

You will still be reaching a wide audience, sometimes even wider as the platforms are well equipped for sharing your posts and sometimes making them go viral.

Speaking of going viral, share your articles on reddit and hacker news.

7. Attend meetups and conferences

One of the best things to come out of going to meetups and conferences is the networking. You will be able to get to know people within the community you're in, by speaking to them face to face. Ask them who they are, what they're working on and find out what they enjoy. Share the same about yourself. These people may not come in handy to start with, but you never know when you might need them in the future or sometimes you could collaborate on projects together. Another benefit of this is the possibility of creating new friends.

You could have a go at speaking at meetups and conferences. What better way to show you know about a topic than to give a talk about it and answer question around it at the end.

You could give out stickers or business cards at these events. This will remind them of you at a later date when they see that sticker or go into their wallet.

8. Videos and podcasts

It is so easy nowadays to record a video and upload it to YouTube. You can even just use your mobile phone. Use this opportunity to teach other people what you have learned. Even if you are only one step ahead of someone, you can still teach them something. Another benefit of teaching others is that you never really learn something until you have to teach it to someone else.

Try doing some live coding on websites like twitch and liveedu, not only will you get chance to showcase what you can do, you will also be able to learn from you viewers who interact with you.

You can create your own podcast, maybe it could be a weekly developer tips podcast, or stories from within the trenches. You could make guest appearances on other people's podcasts too.

If you do any of these, try to make it entertaining too, so that not only are people learning when they consume your content, but they are entertained too, so they will come back for more.

Recommended books

The first book is called Soft Skills by John Sonmez. I read this book about 3 years ago and this book was the reason why I started on the journey to create my personal brand, beginning with my blog.

The second book is also by John Sonmez and it is called The complete software developer's career guide. I blame this book for why I decided to look for a job working for an Umbraco Gold Partner

Both of these are great books and they are both available through audible as well has print and kindle.

Questions

Thank you for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it and are inspired to create or improve your own personal brand. If you have any questions, please tweet me, I am @CodeSharePaul on twitter.

Want to thank me?

If I've helped you out and you want to thank me, why not buy me a coffee?

About the author

Paul Seal

Umbraco MVP and .NET Web Developer from Derby (UK) who specialises in building Content Management System (CMS) websites using MVC with Umbraco as a framework. Paul is passionate about web development and programming as a whole. Apart from when he's with his wife and son, if he's not writing code, he's thinking about it or listening to a podcast about it.

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