It’s tough out there for techies. Not only is their profession one of the most difficult, but they are one of the first in line to the chopping block when corporate wants a short term stock boost.
I have written before on the subject of personal branding and marketing as a hedge against the ever-present threat of downsizing. But I can distill all those articles down to a few key points:
Point One, your certifications and education are nice, but tens of thousands of other professionals have the same letters after their name.
Point Two, your experience is valuable, but tens of thousands of other professionals have similar backgrounds.
Point Three, if you want to stand out from the crowd you have to promote yourself, period.
The concept of self-promotion for many professionals and especially IT folks is very daunting. Nearly all maintain that if they get yet another certification then they will be rewarded by a better job. Unfortunately those days are gone. With the impact Great Recession still reverberating in the job market and with the zeal corporate-cost cutters are targeting IT, you need a Plan B.
As a professional you need to remember that ultimately you work for yourself. It matters not if you are a full-time or contract employee. The social contract between employer and employee is severed and no matter how well you perform in the end it will be a dollars and cents decision that will get you terminated. This applies even if you ate lunch at your desk, never took your vacation and worked 80 hours a week.
With that rant out of the way and all these pixels dedicated to the subject, I wanted to provide a quick update on my own path toward establishing my “personal brand”.
In recent years I have heavily invested my time in writing or contributing to articles on a variety of pertinent topics. Also, I have appeared in a variety of podcasts and hosted several webinars. If you click over to my Media Mentions and Appearances pages, you can see a comprehensive list of my latest writing and speaking engagements.
I am particularly proud of contributing to two articles that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, one on the topic of endpoint security and the other on the Gawker/ WalGreens data breach. Another article I am proud of appeared in InfoWorld and CIO magazine on the topic of dirty consulting tricks and how to avoid them. There are quite a few more for a total of eleven articles this year to which I have provided content.
On the multimedia side, I have done podcasts for TalkingWork and Medical Practice Trends. Also, I have worked with ExecSense to develop webinars on Risk Management and Mobile Device Security. I have several other webinars planned for the future with ExecSense on the topics of Consulting, Risk Management and Chief Operating Officer (COO) skills.
Of course I have also been writing my own articles that are published here on my blog, The Phoenix Principle or Infosec Island. These articles are then cross-posted on a variety of other websites or used in print publications.
Finally, I continue to submit papers, reply to calls for presentations, comment on industry blogs and network locally and via social media. For the future I am planning on delving into video blogging (vlogging), writing a book(s), additional public speaking and pro bono engagements.
All of these efforts are to establish my personal brand and provide a body of work for interested clients to review. For example, I can not only say that I have successfully worked with a clients on disaster recovery and business continuity projects, but I have contributed to three articles on the topic and have provided executive education on the subject. You gain credibility due to the fact that a potential client can review your work immediately, not through a vague third-hand reference over the phone from someone they don’t know or quotation on your website.
Based on the extensive research I have done over the years on marketing, selling and promotional strategies, I have pursued what I and others believe are the most effective techniques. If you need a reference book, the best one I have found so far is Marcia Yudkin’s 6 Steps to Free Publicity. The book is packed with tips on the topics I just mentioned, plus a host of others I have yet to tackle. There are skyscrapers full of marketing books, but Ms. Yudkin breaks it down in a clear and concise format without any hint of condescension or hype.
So there you have it. My quest for self-promotion and developing a personal brand is an on-going enterprise. I have a long, long way to go but I believe I have taken the first steps in the right direction.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!