Successful personal branding tactics that existed before social media are now more successful personal branding tactics with social media.
Here are some examples from my own career.
Wherever I've worked, the personal brand I've tried to build is to be known as someone who is:
- Intellectually honest
- Getting things done
- Open to Always seeking constructive criticism
In my last job from 2002 to 2006 before I started teaching job search, I was a web development manager and senior project manager at a major media distribution company in France. Although I'm pretty sure I never once used the term “personal branding” or “marque personnelle” during my years in Paris at the company, there were a number of things I did while there to consistently grow my personal brand while providing opportunities for my team members to do the same.
Participating in a public project is a great way to make a name for yourself.
For my team of programmers, the major public projects that we came into contact with regularly were the projects surrounding the open-source freeware (free software) that we used in our work. The more popular open-source software projects have large, active communities of people (and not just programmers!) that are continuously working to improve the software and everyone can contribute on a level that works for them.
As we used the software, I encouraged my team to follow those communities and get involved by responding to questions based on our experience with the corresponding software and especially by submitting reports and comments about any software bugs we had discovered.
The more you participate, the more you get noticed. Some people participate so much, they become recognized experts on the software and it eventually leads to jobs at other companies using that software.
In our case though, the open-source software we used wasn't the main focus of our work, so it was hard to justify investing a lot of time in those communities from a business point of view. The personal branding potential was massive but we mostly couldn't take advantage of it.
Our main software platform was purchased from a software company just before I started my job, and my team's first objective was to learn the new system and take full control of it. This was harder than usual because we were one of the first European companies to buy this software so in many ways it felt like we were on our own. There actually were other companies using the software but we weren't organized together in any way, so my boss and I pushed for the software company to hold a user conference for all the European companies that had bought their software.
User or industry conferences
Not only did we push for the software company to have a user conference, we made sure to have an on-stage presentation at the one-day event, which my boss gave. Our presentation – I helped him create it and he credited me in kind – was about the success we had in reaching our first objective mentioned above of expertise running the new system.
Giving a presentation about our achievements at this first-ever industry user conference immediately catapulted us to the forefront of the community by default, since, like us, the other user companies weren't previously aware of who was having success with the software.
However – as we had planned with our contact from the software company but unknown to the crowd – after my boss's presentation, I stood up in the audience. Expanding a little on what my boss had said, I explained how we wanted to create a community around the software like the open-source communities we were already active in, and then listed all the benefits for everyone involved while adding that not only were we ready to get started NOW, but we even had some resources at disposal for the community.
I couldn't have hoped for a better reaction. We had clearly touched a raw nerve.
Before I was even done speaking, heads were nodding around the room and people had begun yelling out suggestions. And when I was done, representatives from almost every company in the room came over to our table, and this was right smack in the middle of the session while the conference was still going on and not at the end of the day. They were that excited to join the initiative.
After all, it was a no-brainer for them- someone was offering to make their lives easier for free, and after seeing how much thought and effort we had already put into the idea, they wanted us to lead this new community, which we were prepared to do and eventually did.
As community leaders, new and potential members automatically came to us first. As demand grew, we even considered launching paid consulting services.
Leveraging your achievements to lead a popular initiative is a great way to grow your brand for an entire community.
I originally published a version of this article on the terrific Personal Branding Blog.