How to actively start building a personal brand – First steps
I’ve been alluding to a series on personal branding and following my last post regarding why to personal brand, here is the next in the series. Consider this Personal Branding 101 – the introductory course, how to get started. In subsequent posts I will dive deeper into various outlets in which to enhance your personal brand, and get contributions from others within the Agile community, but this is the basics. Keep in mind, none of this information is super prescriptive – simply lessons learned from experience and simple research.
The first step: get a professional head shot taken and obtain the digital rights to it. If you know someone with a nice SLR camera or the like you can have them do a mini session. If not, set up a session at the local portrait shop. Make sure to dress professionally. Men: this means a collared shirt at the least, maybe a jacket and tie if that is the norm in your industry. Ladies: a nice top or sweater, some jewelry that accents it. If you own your own company you could consider taking the photo in some company branded swag. Otherwise though, if you’re just working for Corporation X and they’re not paying for this photo, I’d say to skip the token pin or polo to make your head shot more scalable across platforms if you leave said company. Do you want to be remembered for what you look like, or that company memorabilia you’re sporting? If you already have a head shot you use, is it current within the last five years? If not, it may be time for an update.
Secondly, buy a website domain. This could be for a blog site or a business site (though if you have a business hopefully you have a website by now). What domain to buy you ask? There is no tried and true formula for picking a domain. Many people go with their first and last name, and that is my main piece of advice. After all, it’s your brand, why not use your name. You should also set up an associated email with your site to be your main contact form for Agile related interactions (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). That being said there are a few exceptions.
Obviously if it’s a site for your business, you’d want to use that name dot com – in this case I would suggest having a separate tab going to a blog to keep things unified but you could do a separate site. If you have a catchy tagline that could be used as your domain – some niche you have broken into (e.g. John Miller’s is based on Agile Schools because of his work integrating Agile into schools). This can work well but I would caution it because you may change your focus in the coming years and if you’ve built your brand around a title or niche it’s not as transparent or transferable. You could use the title as a blog title instead which is easier to change than re-routing a domain (e.g. I went from Confessions of a New ScrumMaster to just Confessions of a ScrumMaster as I’m not “new” anymore).
Also if you’re an unmarried woman, this could cause some stress. I can speak to this in one of two ways. You could just use your current last name, which is what I’m doing. I’m nowhere close to getting married so I will cross that bridge when I come to it. If you’re really worried you could take a leaf out of my friend Leslie J. Morse’s book – her domain is www.lesliej.net which ignores the last name all together as another option.
After you have the domain set up your website. This can just be a landing page with a resume and your head shot, Twitter feed, links to other social media outlets, or a full on blog or business website. I will discuss blogging tips and platforms in subsequent posts so stay tuned.
Third, get involved in social media! The main ones I recommend are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. There are many others but from a professional standpoint the previous three are key. Facebook can be a good place for businesses but I prefer to keep my Facebook for personal use only. For all of these outlets, I recommend using your full name or mimicking your domain name. You should also use your head shot on all of these. This keeps things consistent and helps to reinforce your brand. More information coming in subsequent posts on the top three social media outlets with input from other Agilers.
The final step in starting to build your personal brand: business cards. Most of us have business cards for work but these are very specific to our day-to-day work and not necessarily the work in the Agile community. Personal cards are great to hand out at conferences and local user groups. I suggest having your head shot on your business card as people will remember how you look and when you continue seeing people at different conferences there will be greater recognition. Make sure to put a title, certifications, website, email, and Twitter handle on the card (phone number is optional). There are plenty of resources to do this in an affordable way such as www.vistaprint.com.
Are you feeling excited yet? Stay tuned for the next blog on, well, blog set up.