Managing Your Personal Brand is Critical in Today’s Job Market
By request, I’m publishing this recap of the information and subsequent discussion topics that arose from my presentation at SAP TechEd Barcelona 2017. Please forgive the length, as this was a quite robust discussion and I want to capture as much as possible.
For those who don’t know me, my name is Jamie Cantrell and I work with the SAP Community Experience team, managing our blogs platform.
I’ve personally been with SAP for just about five years now, but my membership in the SAP community of professionals started in my first “real” job, working with Colgate-Palmolive Co. My internship was in the Global IT Service Center, owning our knowledge management database and processes. We were using SAP products throughout our business, but I really didn’t have a deep understanding of what products we used or why. At the time, I was also studying SAP case studies in my MBA program. I learned that SAP was a giant, a leader in enterprise software and supply chain management. I learned that their products had empowered companies to work smarter and more efficiently. Even so, as an individual consumer, I wasn’t about to go out and buy some SAP products for my home computer.
A few years later, I was approached about a job with a company called “SuccessFactors.” I had no idea what SuccessFactors was at the time, but as soon as I heard the words “an SAP Company,” I was sold. Why do you think it was so easy and obvious for me to say “yes” to this opportunity? Brand recognition. (By the way, this is why companies invest in their employer brand – to attract talent.)
When you hear the word “brand,” what do you think of?
I get it. Many technical professionals that I have interacted with have a visceral reaction to anything that looks or smells like marketing. So, when I talk about personal brand, their brains immediately shut down. “That’s not something I need!” they say. “I don’t do marketing.” Or worse, “I am good at my job. Employers will implicitly see my value. I don’t need to worry about a personal brand.”
Have you ever heard the term “Business of One”?
This phrase refers to a growing trend of individuals who no longer think of themselves as employees. These people consider themselves independent businesses, like consultants, whether they have full-time positions with a single company or not. They know that the only thing that will live on throughout the course of their lives is their own career path, so they negotiate work contracts as if they are their own company, are always keeping an eye out for their next big gig, and more importantly, they are constantly aware of the market for their skills and experience. Why do you think this trend might be growing?
The Importance of Personal Branding: The Global Recession, Globalization, and the New Job Market
In the United States, we were hit very hard by the recession. In particular, middle income, “white collar” workers were the most impacted. Many, many people lost their jobs, their retirement savings, and their homes. My parents’ generation believed that loyalty to a company would be rewarded with job security. As a result, they did not invest time and energy into managing their personal brand. For those who lost their jobs as a result of the recession, this made finding a new job nearly impossible.
Being comfortable in your job and your current situation creates a tendency to fall out of touch with the market and lose understanding of what skills employers are looking for. Those who lost their jobs in the recession had to start building their presence in this new market from scratch because they never expected to have to start over. Throw the increasing globalization of the job market and now, they have to differentiate themselves from the hundreds of thousands of others just like them.
Up and coming professionals learned from the experiences that we witnessed and we know that there is no such thing as true job security. When it no longer makes business sense to keep you, more often than not, you’ll find yourself at the long end of the unemployment line unless you are already prepared to find a new opportunity.
So, what is a “personal brand” anyway?
Like a company’s brand, the personal brand is the story that you tell the world about yourself and your work.
Defining your personal brand starts with a conversation you have with yourself. How do you want people to think of you? Do you want to be known as the expert in your field? Do you want to be known as someone who raises up other people?
How you represent yourself can define the opportunities that come available to you.
One great tool that can help with this introspective conversation is the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. To perform this analysis, you can start with a four-box grid, like this one:
Fill in each box with a bullet list. Examples of strengths might be technical skills, personal characteristics, etc. Weaknesses could be areas of personal improvement you know that you need to work on, or skills that you know aren’t quite up to par compared to other candidates in the market. If you don’t have specifics yet, a simple statement like “outdated technical skills” could be a starting point that you can elaborate on later. This is not necessarily a good-bad analysis (that all depends on your attitude!). Instead, you want to honestly assess the situation as it is today. Remember, this is just a tool to help you form your brand identity.
Opportunities could include new jobs created by emerging technologies (blockchain, machine learning, AI, VR, etc.) or new industry requirements and regulations (GDPR comes to mind), personal development (certifications, courses, etc.), or other such opportunities where your unique skills and experience would be valuable. These should reflect what you want to do and not just what you are currently qualified for. Threats could also be, for example, emerging technologies (e.g. new coding languages) that threaten to make your skills obsolete. In addition to helping you form your brand story, the Opportunities and Threats segment of this tool should also serve to drive actions that you want to take to help mitigate risks or take advantage of opportunities (such as taking a training course).
Performing this analysis will give you a good starting point for forming your brand story. From here, you should form a statement that encompasses your strengths, your passions, and where you want to go. Remember, if you don’t tell your own brand story, someone else will; and it may not be the story that you want to be told about you.
Overcoming Self-Doubt: Imposter Syndrome
Are you familiar with the term “imposter syndrome”? This is the emotional beating that many professionals give themselves when put in a position of defending their own value. It is the belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, you are not as smart, skilled, knowledgeable, or qualified as you believe you are. It is that nagging self-doubt in the back of your mind that if you get too much visibility, if you assert yourself and your opinions too much, people will see through the facade that you’ve built and see that you are an imposter.
Of course, this is logically ridiculous, but it is a real phenomenon that affects many people at some point in their careers. Initially thought to explicitly affect women, recent research indicates that this syndrome also affects men, and particularly people from families with a heavy focus on achievement. (Want to learn more about this research? Check out this article from the American Psychological Association.)
So, why is this relevant? Well, as you are forming your brand story, you may notice yourself second-guessing or undervaluing the contribution you make to your company and your industry. This can be especially challenging if you are someone who values humility and teamwork. The first step in overcoming this is to acknowledge the problem for what it is – a creation of your own insecurities. Then, try writing a list of concrete achievements or contributions that you’ve made. (And yes, supporting others on your team or in your org to accomplish objectives count as achievements.) You are valuable. Don’t sell yourself short. No one is going to be a better advocate for you than you.
Nailing Your Brand Story: The Elevator Pitch
“What is an elevator pitch?” you might ask. This is a brief statement about who you are, what you do, and why your work is valuable. The elevator pitch takes into account everything you discovered in your SWOT analysis and turns it into an easily consumable story that you use to form people’s opinions of you as a professional.
For example, my elevator pitch goes like this: “My name is Jamie Cantrell. I’m a global communications expert, passionate about building exceptional customer experiences. Today, I work with customers, partners, and other SAP employees to facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration on the SAP Community.”
For a more technical expert, your pitch might sound something like this: “Hi, I’m Jamie. I am a full stack web developer, focused on building great user experiences. I am currently working on implementing insert technology here .”
Once you’ve gotten your elevator pitch down on paper, you’re ready to dig into your digital toolkit.
Your Digital Toolkit: Choosing the Right Tools
One of the most important things to keep in mind when deciding which channels to invest your limited time and energy into is the audience that you are trying to reach. For example, if there are dominant channels in your industry or profession, you should focus on growing your presence there instead of others where your reach will be limited.
The SAP Community
For those of us working with SAP technologies, the SAP community is the first stop in building your personal brand. Why? It’s built around the ability to learn, teach, and grow your professional reputation with other SAP professionals. Notice, I used the lower case “community,” because I’m talking about more than this website (and its current quirks). The SAP community is made up of all the people in the SAP world, those of us who share a vested interest in the success and growth of SAP technologies and adoption. It includes all kinds of interactions: on this website, at events, in user groups, at meetups…
The Community website offers the opportunity to share your expertise and build your professional reputation as an expert in your field through writing blogs and answering questions. It facilitates connections between members. It offers name recognition for active, expert members and gives newer members a chance to benefit from contact with those experts. These capabilities will only be enhanced in the coming days as we make improvements to the site.
The community of SAP professionals around the world is strong. We became strong through the free sharing of information and ideas, the facilitation of building professional connections, and the overall support that we share with each other on this journey with SAP. I was approached by several different members at TechEd Las Vegas this year, who shared stories about how being a member of the community has affected their lives. One member shared that he suddenly had to move to another country and he had no job lined up. He was worried about how he was going to survive there. Ultimately, he reached out to his SAP community network and was offered a job based on the reputation he had built in the community.
Bottom line: being active and helpful and professional in the Community site translates into greater industry reputation and concrete connections with other SAP professionals. THIS is the job security of today.
Be sure that as you grow your community presence, you are maintaining professional appearance (use a nice headshot for your profile image and use your real name) and professional behavior. Treat others with respect and come with a positive and growth-oriented mindset. This rule also applies to every other digital tool in your toolbox.
Remember: What happens on the internet lives forever. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want on a billboard outside your future boss’ office window.
Next on the list is LinkedIn, which most of you are hopefully familiar with. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you need to build one today. LinkedIn is essentially a digital resume in the ‘traditional’ format. LinkedIn offers a convenience factor for finding new jobs and applying to them efficiently and consistently. Many job sites these days integrate directly with LinkedIn to pre-populate fields on the application form. Now, while I don’t advocate the shotgun approach (aka apply to every job you’re remotely qualified for), there’s something to be said for saving time in your job search. So, even if you’re not looking for a new job today, this one will save you time in the future.
There are tons of articles out there on best practices for LinkedIn, but I will share with you the most important: use your elevator pitch. On your LinkedIn profile, you have the option to write a headline and a summary. These sections should succinctly reflect what makes you and your work valuable. Your elevator pitch is perfect for this.
Other key tips include:
- use a professional photo
- fill in as much information on your profile and work history as you can
- focus on accomplishments and not tasks (e.g. “I achieved 500% year-over-year growth for my program” is much more compelling than “I consistently filled out forms every day.”)
Depending on your experience with HTML/CSS, your budget, and your available time and energy, you have lots of options for creating a home base personal website. If your career is solidly in the SAP environment (e.g. your whole purpose in life is developing in ABAP), you should invest some time into building up your profile here on the Community site. However, I find that it’s a good idea to also have an outside site or blog post in which to showcase side projects or work on other non-SAP topics. (There was some healthy debate about this strategy during my session, in which some attendees felt that their Community profile was sufficient, given that it contains all your Q&A and Blogs activities, as well as, missions and reputation information.)
Should you choose to create a site, there are many free options, such as WordPress.com, that will allow you to set up a blog-style site quickly and easily. If you want a custom URL (e.g. yourname.com), you might consider a 3rd party hosting service (personally, I use dreamhost.com) where you can install a free content management system (CMS) like WordPress. These are user-friendly options for those of us who are not web developers by profession.
I’ve seen a few different successful ways to utilize the personal website for personal branding. One of which is the “business of one” view. This site is truly dedicated to furthering your brand message. It will focus primarily on showcasing your work (maybe you include a portfolio or links to past projects you’ve worked on) and your elevator pitch.
Another option is to utilize a more content-focused format. If you enjoy writing or creating podcasts or recording videos in which you share your expertise, this format will work well for you. For example, I use my personal website to share posts that are typically more generic observations and advice, focusing on business topics that, while relevant to many in the SAP world, are not specific to SAP.
Does it matter what format you use? You should choose a format that best achieves your goals.
Is the personal website required? No, but it’s useful in ensuring that when employers research you, you control the message they receive.
I often call Twitter “the great equalizer” because it is a unique platform that gives me, a new grad, an executive board member, and the president of the United States the same microphone through which to speak. It offers the ability to connect with people you might not otherwise have access to. Moreover, while building your personal brand, Twitter gives you immense reach to people you may not have close relationships with yet and helps you reach new people that you might not even be aware of. Twitter is a great supplement to your work in the Community, to help increase your reach to others outside your network. Your personal brand is only as strong as your visibility.
Growing Your Toolbox
Now, of course, there are many other ways to strengthen your personal brand, as well. For example, starting a podcast, writing a book, doing a side project, volunteering, attending or hosting events, such as SAP TechEd, SAP Inside Track, and CodeJam, or speaking at a conference. These activities can all supplement and strengthen your larger personal branding efforts when you utilize your digital toolbox to amplify their effect. For example, sharing a recording or recap of a speaker session you did at SAP TechEd across all your digital channels. 😉
The most important takeaways from this post are that there are a wide variety of tools available to you. Use the ones you are most comfortable with and that your intended network is comfortable with. Engage often. Putting up a profile is not sufficient. Digital media is about two-way conversations and every interaction is an opportunity to create a new contact or strengthen an existing one. Your brand requires attention and energy to maintain. If you wait until you need it, you’ve waited too long.
Soo many tools soo little time.
I find the hardest thing is to focus on 1 task and not being overwhelmed by too many side distractions.
Thank you for sharing.
It's a challenge that we all face: limited time to do all the things we should be doing. It forces us to prioritize and cut out activities that don't serve our purpose. As I mentioned in this post, it's important to know what tools and activities are most effective for your (current or desired) job role and focus your energies on those. It's also important to do things that light your inner fire. For example, I find Twitter to be immensely useful, not only on a professional level but also for personal fulfillment. This is a tool that serves my purpose: networking and growing my brand across a variety of industries and topics. Others whose purpose is more focused on technical development, for example, might find their time better spent on industry groups and communities (SAP Community, StackOverflow, GitHub, etc.). Ultimately, it boils down to making the best decisions that serve your objectives and not wasting time on ones that your industry doesn't use.
Thanks so much for posting this! I believe that I was one of many who asked you during TechEd Barcelona to publish this great content from your lecture in the Mentors room.
Keep posting this type of content, I'll keep consuming it! 🙂
Also, just an idea... maybe... just maybe... you could make a youtube video talking about this or a PodCast. Just saying 😉
Thanks again and it was great to see you again!
It was great to see you too! And, yes, this would make a great recording/podcast...wonder if we could get some folks to join in. One of the fantastic things about that session was the discussion with the attendees. I love when big, beautiful minds come together and make magic. BRB have to go learn how to create a good podcast.... 😀
I agree with the idea that as an employee it is one's own responsibility to stay "in touch" with the market and to actively decide on what kind of visibility "the market" should get on one's life. Simply relying on the current, maybe long-term employment is certainly not sufficient. After all, keeping an employee "marketable" is often not part of the employment contract (different story, when working in a services industry or where laws require permanent ongoing certification).
And, yes the different websites mentioned in this blog probably are the most commonly used ones for the SAP Community audience.
What I don't agree with is the order of websites. SAP Community is a major community for SAP-folks but no search engine on this planet lists it before LinkedIn. If that was an aspirational ranking, I say "good luck" but won't hold my breath.
Concerning the "great equalizer"... I think that is a naive notion of Twitter. Does Jane Doe really have the same outbound channel as your current POTUS, Justin Bieber or, say, Kim Kardashian? Of course not. There's a huge difference in what resources the average Twitter user can invest into using this channel compared to what these folks afford.
Besides these points, I think this blog makes a good point of why self-representation is important. Not only in order to become or to stay employable but also to learn what one's own professional story is and what it should be.
Thanks for your thoughts, Lars!
I want to clarify that the tools I’ve listed are in no particular order. The SAP Community is key for SAP professionals, but for those working in other industries, there are other channels that are more appropriate (e.g. doctors probably don’t use LinkedIn for networking so much as recruiters do). And, yes, while you are right that the reach on Twitter isn’t the same for everyone, the playing field is much more open than any other channel, giving people the ability to exponentially expand their reach organically in a way that they couldn’t elsewhere. I personally find it quite liberating and fruitful to connect with people who I might never otherwise be aware of. It’s so important to have a diverse set of tools because each has their strengths and weaknesses, and each should complement the others.
Also, I love your point on learning one's own professional story. Finding your purpose is one of the more critical stabilizers in one's career, I believe. It helps people get through the hard times and helps them to make smart decisions that will ultimately help them achieve their goals, instead of just floating along on whatever opportunity comes first. (A topic for another blog, perhaps...)
Thanks for reading and for taking the time to respond
As someone who recently had to deal with a job search, I have mixed feeling about this subject.
There are only 2 people in the world with the same exact name as me (due to the Russian name spelled by Latvian authorities) - talk about a brand! 🙂 At the same time, I've noticed that any information about me outside of the resume was of little or no interest to the potential employers.
One would think that an SAP Mentor, multiple award winner, author and speaker, etc. is not found on a job market frequently. But in reality no one seemed to care. I don't think anyone even checked my LinkedIn profile (other than maybe initial screening by HR just to check if I'm a real person), much less SCN. Not sure why. Maybe it's just local market or industry. But I guess "your mileage may vary" when it comes to self-marketing strategy.
Thanks for posting though, I enjoyed reading this.
That's interesting commentary, Jelena. Thanks for sharing! What would you say was the most influential factor or tool in your job search?
LinkedIn. I was surprised to find that most serious job ads are actually posted there and many employers have even integrated the application process with LI.
I've experienced the same and that's why I think it's crucial to have an active, current LI profile, even if the majority of your activity is on an industry site, like the Community. Recruiters use LI heavily to find talent for their openings. Even if you're not actively looking, you could be passing up opportunities that you don't even know about! What's more, and this is the reason I say you need a diverse toolkit, often times recruiters are not deeply knowledgeable about the positions they are trying to fill. If you are able to explain the value of your reputation on a site like the Community in your LI profile, you can help connect the dots and build the value proposition of your brand.
Thanks for sharing nice blog,
Great blog! I enjoyed looking through a different set of eyes about what was important. A little over two years ago I was "outsourced". No longer needed as they could bring in other resources for less money.
I had to really scramble as I was the one in the family that brought in a pay check and health care. I went on a job search. I had a different result than Jelena. I got called by a recruiter based on my Linkedin profile and searches he had done. My new employers were impressed that (at that time) I was an SAP Mentor. Saying that - that's what got me in the door. Then they didn't care and focused on the interview part of the job. So it helped.
That said I don't use twitter. I feel like there is just too much noise out there. One of the things you didn't list is Facebook. Amid the funny meme and where people went to dinner - you are keeping in touch with people from your "old" job. That makes them remember you easier when you want a recommendation.
I was told a LONG time ago - when I first started speaking "fake it until you make it". So I pretended I could speak and then I did. I had the knowledge, the ideas, but not the courage (that self-doubt) to do it. I would say that is the huge drawback for most people. That slows them down in life. In all of their life. I really related to that part of your blog. It has held me back more than once. In fact answering questions here can be a little daunting. I KNOW I am not the one with all the knowledge, but I can share what I know. Then if there is a better answer, I'll learn.
Keeping up with technology poses a problem for many people. We live at the speed of our jobs. My recent job is backwards in SAP technology, but they are upgrading as soon as possible based on business concerns. Yes, I can learn it. But if you don't learn it and use it then it doesn't look nearly as good for your "brand".
Same here. Many times I have to let go of my pride and seek comfort in the fact that it could've been my [incorrect or inadequate] answer that might have led more knowledgeable people to chime in. No one is perfect but everyone can learn.
Thanks for your thoughts, Michelle! You’re right that I did not include Facebook. Finding the right mix of tools depends on a few factors, namely: your industry, your goals, and how you use the tools. Facebook, for me, was a tool I used for my personal network. Ultimately, I learned way more about people than I ever wanted to know AND that would taint our professional relationship, if I had ever worked with them. I actually left Facebook a while back for those reasons; however, as I said, it’s a matter of how you use it. If you only use it for professional networking, then sure, it’s a great tool for keeping in touch. However, you should also be aware that other people may not have the same thoughts about how to use Facebook as you, so you could run across issues such as personal information that might create a conflict for you professionally down the road.
I think that’s what’s so powerful about the Q&A part of the Community site. One of my favorite quotes, oft attributed to Socrates, is “I know enough to know that I know nothing.” We will never know everything there is to know about everything. I find it very wise and refreshing to meet people who understand that that’s not a weakness. Willingness to learn is the most critical point there. If you have time, the book “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck is a great study on the effectiveness of a growth mindset rather than a set boundaries mindset. This means that no one comes with natural limitations to their capabilities. It’s just a matter of acknowledging your current weaknesses and finding a game plan for how to improve your knowledge and skills. It's also why lifetime learners, like us, are always looking for ways to expand our minds. You never stop learning!
Thanks for the conversation!
Yes - time. I tend to read more fun stuff instead of the technical - but I will check it out. I know I am always learning. That's what makes this site so fun. The group that is here are open to just about anything in the SAP world.
Facebook - questionable for sure. I set up "groups" of people. My family, my friends, my co-workers, my SAP friends - well you get the picture. Sometimes I do post some that are open to the public, but that is usually one of the funny memes I come across. I also tend to share with the public the more positive news stories as I think we all need those right now.
HA! Taint my working environment. I tend to learn way more from direct interaction with my co-works. I like knowing them. Their personalities, their hobbies and more. I love learning about people. It's fun to look at the world differently through a different set of eyes.
I had a friend at work who was from India. He was going back to get married and telling me about it. One of the things he had to do was ride a horse. He had never ridden a horse. He knew that I had them, and asked to come over. Of course I said yes. Then I thought everyone in India got married on a horse. Lucky for me I had another co-worker from India who said no it depended on the area of India you were from. After the week long ceremony, he let me see his photo album on line. It was amazing. So beautiful, and yet so different from what in the US is a typical marriage. Of course, I should have known not everyone rides a horse as we have many different types of weddings here. And some, yes, are on horseback.
Another fun example:
I was sure I was writing a perfect program that could be used throughout our business. I happened to have a co-worker in Israel. I had been "talking" with him for weeks. I had also heard him rant about how their location was used to get requirements, and the project were just forced on them. So I knew him enough that I felt comfortable getting help from him. Well needless to say it wouldn't have worked for that location. I had to rework, but it was a success at all our plants.
I have more and more examples I could share where knowing someone and not all the business things about them has helped me. Another thought to share, when you have two projects of equal importance that need to be done by x date. Which do you pick? Your boss has left it up to you to decide which one to tackle - the other one he would TRY to get moved out to a different date. It doesn't always happen.
Nope that isn't the reason I try to make friends even at work. I do it because I enjoy it and it is fun.
So I guess I would say use Facebook with different groups. Also know as everything you type here or anywhere on the web, your words are out their forever. And as usually a long response where I got off track a bit.
Anyway - you have a different feeling for Facebook - here I go - learning again. I think I'll revisit my Facebook groups. 🙂
Thank you for the nice debate. I've missed these. There have been a couple in the new community but not as much.
Ah, yes, using Facebook groups are a great way to segment your discussions around particular topics. I found that it was nice to find others in my community with similar interests as well, so I do miss that aspect (plus the keeping up with distant relations that I want to stay updated on, but wouldn't merit a phone call... you know the ones 🙂 )
Again, my personal experience and the reason I left Facebook: I found that others were sharing information like political views (e.g. adamantly supporting someone or something that discriminated against a group I'm a member of) that I found not only changed how I viewed that person but made it difficult to see them in any other light.
I LOVED reading your examples of getting to know your colleagues. One of the best ways to strengthen your brand is to strengthen your network connections. Some people prefer to keep things strictly professional, but I, too, find that the best connections are those that are made at a deeper level. I want to clarify that I have no issue with and in fact advocate for building strong ties and sharing your lives with your colleagues. That said, I also know that I would have a hard time building such a connection with someone who, for example, was protesting for the Westboro Baptist Church every weekend. (By the way, I lived in Topeka, KS for several years & had the lovely experience of living in the same neighborhood as this compound...) So, it was a personal decision that made sense to me in the context of my professional (and even personal) life. It may work differently/better for you and that's ok!
Also, you're absolutely right, anything you post on the Internet has the potential to end up on the evening news, so you should be cautious as there is no promise of "privacy" that can hold up to changing legislation, security breaches, even changing policies that are outside of your control (or even something as simple as a mistake on which group you share with -- like the dreaded "reply all" misstep!).
Thanks for the chat - this is my favorite part of blogging and of this community and I'm so happy to feel that community coming together again. Here's to a brighter future!
I liked the "fake it until you make it". It reminded me of the argument you and I had few years ago (when I was new at SCN) at Mastering Configuration in short time. You are right keeping up with the technology isn't easy but is required for the brand.
Thanks so much for your post. Very worth reading blog, interesting and inspirational.
It was great to meet you at TechEd Barceloa some weeks ago.
Thanks for reading, David! Great meeting you too!
I had been putting off reading this, as I could see that it was generating a lot of comment activity and I knew that I’d want to follow that conversation, too. But, I finally got down to it, and I’m glad I did.
What’s most interesting is seeing others’ experiences with their job searches. For instance, Jelena found that all of her online contributions and community awards made very little consequence in her search, whereas for Michelle it was perhaps the critical piece that first got her noticed. We all know that the best interview in the world does no good if it’s never held.
I’ve been thinking about this subject myself for a while now. I’ve become “comfortable” in my job, having worked for the same employer for nearly 18 years, after an initial period where I jumped entire industries every few years. I feel relatively secure in my job, but… well, no one these days is ever truly secure, are they? And, frankly, in another couple years I may be personally ready for some new excitement anyway. Maybe. But, being that long in one place makes the prospect of looking outside rather scary. Do I even know the current vogue for resumes? Are my skillsets totally obsolete? Will ageism, however illegal it is here, be a real factor hindering my progress (we’ve all seen those job ads stating “the ideal candidate will be a digital native and a good fit with our culture…” Um, can you be any more explicit in saying you don’t want to hire anyone over 35?)?
So, it’s easy to be complacent. It’s easy to say “My gosh, I’m so busy, between a demanding job, my family, and my civic commitments, I don’t have time to manage multiple social media sites, write blogs, and prepare for speaking engagements." Speaking engagements! Michelle said it well, what a frightening prospect! Especially when Impostor Syndrome kicks in and one assumes all they want to hear about is HANA and Fiori and OData, and I’m just a simple old-fashioned Basis admin, and… Well, there you go.
But you’re right, Jamie. We can’t afford to be complacent. It’s like finding time for health and fitness — what fits your busy schedule better, exercising for half an hour a day, or being dead 24 hours a day (with apologies to Randy Glasbergen, whose comic this is paraphrased from)? I have a Twitter account, but I so rarely use it (interesting note: before becoming an SAP Mentor, I think I had maybe three followers, and they were all family members; now, it’s… um, well, I don’t actually know. Not hundreds, but certainly more than three). I have a Facebook account, but like you, I prefer to keep that one for personal connections, not professional. I have a LinkedIn account, and wow, am I ever overdue for updating it. I think it still shows my job title from a few years ago, and as for having a blurb or tagline…
And yes, I’ve written some blogs here on SAP Community, but…. um, not for a little while. Probably about time I started doing that again. Cue notes from earlier about busy work life, busy family life, but what does one have more time for? Half an hour a day of blog composition, or 24 hours a day of unemployment?
Anyway, thanks for the proverbial kick in the pants, Jamie. Time to start some personal branding!
The discussion is the best part of blogging!! Thanks for taking the time and joining in 🙂 No better time than now to get started!
Yes, about time! Stop teasing us already, Matt, and write something! 🙂
But you're so much fun to tease! 🙂
You have described the reason and steps of personal branding in very good detail, Jamie! Thank you. Having benefited a lot from having a personal website, and posting experiences & thoughts at SCN, LinkedIn and other forums, I see its value and always encourage my colleagues & friends to stay relevant in the market by demonstrating their knowledge, not only at their jobs but also at professional forums.
thanks for this interesting post!
I confirm with some of your thoughts and I have to decline some others. Ok. this will not help anyone as long as I do not name them... 😉 I will try to point out as short as possible.
I confirm that you should be aware of your knowledge and of what you want to do and to achieve. Of course having a reputation on blogs.sap.com, bulletin boards and private websites is a plus.
But what I have learned the past 15 years is, that everything that you build up online is a wee bit contrary to the persons you know personally.
Profiles on LinkedIn or Xing or Google+ are good to present some buzz words. But at least it does only roughly represent who you are and what you are able to perform.
Why I feel so confident about this is because I have an own website: tricktresor.de It is well known in Germany and nearly unknown in non-german speaking countries. This is my personal blog where I blog about ABAP programming problems and solutions since 2003. If you want to know more, I would appreciate if you read my blog about tricktresor: Why I Write My Blog In German Language
Although I thing that there is no comparable german site (imposter syndrome?? :)) it didn't help me when I needed work. Ten years ago, when I was self-employed, my projects stopped and I had no follow-up projects. No problem I thought, you have a well known blog... So I put an appeal on the landing page that I need work.
I got no response.
Not a single one.
The second thought about online reputation is, that it is very hard for people to set the link between information you provide and you yourself. I also wrote something about it here (sorry, german...). The idea behind this post is, that every information "online" is anonym although it is written by a real author and/or written on a personal website and "obvious". At least the information was "on the net" or "by google". This vitiates a lot of effort you spent on online activities.
In my opinion, the only way to really stay in peoples mind is to present yourself personally:
Despite this, it is very hard when trying to find a new, better job just because you have a "good" online reputation. How you work and how you are is much much more than what you can leave online. So what is important is the personal contact, the personal impression.
Even if you "impress" some people or get into peoples awareness... mostly these people will not hire you!
If I should advise someone what to do to have a good "reputation" I would say:
♥ Do what you love. ♥
Everything else will show up.
Sorry that I was not really short... 😉
And I had a beer.
Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that your "whole self" must be represented, not only online, but in your daily work, the projects you choose, the projects you complete, the projects you abandon, the talks you choose to give, the events you choose to attend, and the network you build around yourself. The key word here, you may notice, is "choose." The choices you make very much define not only the person you are but the person people perceive you to be.
Perhaps you are not able to personally network with everyone you'd like. Or, perhaps you are not able to get assigned to projects you want to work on, especially those that represent growth opportunities for you. Side projects can fill that gap, and online tools give you the ability to showcase your work and your expertise with people you might have never otherwise met. This is particularly useful in building soft connections with people who might only be passively looking for candidates. Maybe they don't have a position for you today, but when a position does come available, if you've built your brand, your name will stick in their mind. As I mentioned in my post, your online presence is not the only way to build and manage your brand, but I do believe it should play a strong part. Ultimately, a diverse toolkit of online and offline activities increases your possible pool of opportunities.
Post very useful! I
agree with what you think about personal branding. We also pay attention to what it means Personal Branding: does not coincide with Social Media Marketing or having a personal blog.
It does not mean "selling oneself better", giving a false image of oneself or making one perceive an added value that in reality does not exist (also because selling "something" takes a lot of time, a lot of skill and involves a high failure rate).
It is much better to explain clearly why we should be chosen and make others look for us.
And this applies both to being involved in internal projects but also to look for new job opportunities.
ps: JamieI saw your the "Part 2" video about Personal Branding. Can you share the link of "part 1"?
Thanks a lot
Here's Part 1: https://youtu.be/0DfVqS8E6u0
Also, you can reference the whole series here (more will be added over time).
Thanks for reading & watching!