There are two kinds of benefits we’d like to talk about in this article: those for you specifically, and those for your company as a whole.
The most obvious benefit is gaining recognition among your peers. If you share interesting thoughts regularly, people start to notice and come to know you as an expert in your particular field. That’s not just a vanity thing—the more people see you as an expert, the more opportunities may come your way.
People will see through you if you try to build a fake persona that doesn’t reflect who you are or if you try to use your brand solely for personal gain without offering anything in return. But if you do offer value, you can also use the platform you’ve built to share an ebook you’ve written, a workshop you’re organizing, or anything else you’d like to promote.
There’s nothing else like it. That’s also how we often approach writing personal branding posts at STX Next. We think of a pain point a potential reader may have, and we try to help them solve it by offering our expertise. Both our former and current CEOs share that approach when it comes to their content, and that’s why articles and posts like “How to avoid being overwhelmed by tasks as a CEO” and “Why open communication is key” were written.
We’re sure you have a lot of insights worth sharing with others, and you may even not realize it. Once you make a plan to share them once a week, such a structure forces you to look at what you’ve been doing from a new perspective. Wouldn’t all of us benefit from some introspection?
Finally, because personal branding utilizes social media, it’s a good way to get to know other people. If you commit some time to interacting with others on LinkedIn or Twitter, you may get to participate in some interesting conversations. Meeting like-minded people is great, but don’t forget that talking to those who think differently can also broaden your horizons—and offer exciting potential opportunities.
Why do your clients work with your company? One of the factors is definitely the ability to collaborate with experienced, trustworthy professionals who are experts in their particular field. So how will others realize you and your coworkers are such professionals? Cue personal branding.
Not everybody who sees your content will decide to do business with your company. Or at least, it won’t be the sole reason. However, sharing interesting content regularly will serve a very important purpose: reminding the potential client about you and, by extension, your organization.
They may not have been interested in your services six months ago when they first saw your posts, but if a need for your services presents itself, they will be aware of you and what you can offer.
Or maybe your company is struggling with recruitment? It’s not just potential clients that can read your content—it’s potential coworkers, too. We’re all on the lookout for talented individuals who could help us reach our goals, but if they are indeed talented, they probably have other options in front of them.
Personal branding will also help you and your company stand out from the competition. The experts will get to know you before even meeting you, just by reading your content. You may have similar opinions on certain things, or maybe you think very differently, which can make working together captivating. They will be able to form some initial opinions about you, and decide that they would, in fact, like to work with you.
Despite the many benefits of personal branding, doing it successfully is not that easy. Here are some of the challenges that you and your company should keep in mind:
Writing a post every couple of weeks and jumping between different topics won’t cut it. You need to think about what you can offer your reader and how to make sure your content reaches and resonates with the right people.
The first question you should ask yourself is: “How do I want to be known on my social media?” For instance, do you want people to know you as “that person who talks about building a successful team of developers” or “that person who shares management tips”?
Once you choose your niche and make readers associate you with a specific topic, it will be easier for them to remember you.
Sharing content on your profile isn’t enough. If that’s your approach to personal branding, you’re running the risk of staying in your bubble, where it’s always the same people reading your posts, agreeing with you, and liking your content. There’s no point in that.
You need to spend additional time on social media and look for interesting content from others to interact with. If you see a post you like, leave a comment, start a conversation with the author, maybe continue that conversation in a post of your own, then add the author to your network.
This way, you’ll potentially get to add a new voice to the conversations you have with your readers.
The more you write, the better your writing gets. Writing is like a muscle that you need to train, so don’t get discouraged if your initial efforts don’t read great.
You also don’t need to write all your posts on your own. You can ask someone for help—someone who will listen to what you’d like to write about and help you put it all together. To put it short, writing skills are essential, but they don’t need to be your own.
To actually reap the benefits of personal branding, you need to devote time to it.
First, as mentioned above, you need to plan it properly, which takes time in itself. Then, you need to be consistent with all the efforts we’ve listed here. If your enthusiasm for personal branding fizzles out, so will the benefits.
We recommend blocking out time in your calendar every week only for your personal branding-related activities. This way, you can make sure you’ll always find a moment to maintain your online brand.
Personal branding is a big word, but it’s really just a simple concept: how you are perceived by others. For that, you’ll need to decide what kind of image you want to evoke—people with strong brands are clear about who they are.
There are plenty of approaches to developing a public persona for yourself, but we want to share one with you that we have successfully used in our company.
To help you identify your unique brand, start by answering the following questions about yourself and your work:
Once you’ve considered all of that, you should have all the information you need to build a basic foundation for your personal brand. Your persona can change and evolve over time, just as you yourself will change and grow, but it’s important to make sure you’re clear on how you want to be seen.
To that end, we suggest that you write down the answers to the following questions:
Gather all your answers in one place, along with any other materials you think you’ll need for your personal branding, and move on to devising a strategy!
At first, your strategy could be as simple as posting once a week on LinkedIn. After all, consistency is the key to success on social media. Focus first on developing a habit of posting, then transition to a more strategic approach.
Remember that the main point of personal branding is to share your perspective on the topics that are important to you—even the best strategy won’t replace authenticity.
LinkedIn is a platform that will be the most important to your personal branding as a tech leader. It’s where you can build relationships with potential clients and other leaders in your industry. You may be thinking, “I just became a tech lead last week; I’m not experienced enough to share my insights with others,” or, “I don’t really have anything interesting to share,” but that’s simply not true.
Think about what kinds of LinkedIn posts you enjoy reading the most. Are they super technical and written by tech leaders with 30+ years of experience? These can definitely be interesting, but we’ve found that the most popular kinds of posts are the relatable ones. A post by your colleague who struggles with similar challenges to yours, or another one that shares some thoughts you also have, can be a real winner.
It doesn’t matter where in your career you currently are, it’s a good idea to start your personal branding as soon as possible—if you haven’t already.
In this article, we’ve talked a little bit about LinkedIn as the go-to space for tech leaders. However, just like any social media platform, it comes with its own set of rules and best practices.
That’s why we’ve prepared a step-by-step handbook of personal branding on LinkedIn for you as a downloadable resource!
In there, you’ll find tips on:
Our guide also includes many other things that should be useful to you in your personal branding journey as a tech leader.
At STX Next, we pride ourselves on supporting tech leaders and their growth. With almost 20 years of experience under our belt, we’ll be more than happy to help you in your next software development venture!