Personal Branding or Brandishing your Personality

I attend my first workshop a week ago which was about Personal Branding.  Yeah, I thought that too, but in facet its about learning how to develop and share your personal brand.  In specific, to the community and “hopefully” future employers.  This workshop was led by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack, Startup CEO, Mentor, Webcaster, Author, and KeyNote speaker.  It was a great experience and covered three areas I define as “Stuff I knew, but needed to be reminded”, “Stuff I didn’t know but wanted to hear about”, and “Stuff I didn’t know and didn’t want to hear about”.  I thought sharing it might prove useful to some of you out there like me who have a difficult time networking and putting yourself out there so here goes.

“Stuff I knew but needed to be reminded.”

So There were some obvious things such as; “Don’t lie on a resume or at all”, “Attend Meet-Up’s and networking events”, I have been told on more than one occasion to “participate on open source projects” so I better get started on that, and in a sense “reverse engineer your life if you are trying to get somewhere in particular”.  There were some others:

  • Create an adjective cloud.  So on many of the networking sites (and in person when networking which I think is all the time now) there is a space to insert some adjectives about yourself.  This is cool because now I know what an adjective is, and yes, I did just look it up again.  So when filling up this space, feel free to get a little liberal with how you go about this.  Have you ever finished an app?  They your a developer.  Have you given a speach, then your a public speaker.  When asked how good a developer you are, don’t be afraid when cornered to get honest, “3 out of 5”.  You also have some space to put your aspirations in here.  I am working on becoming a kick ass iOS developer so I have updated my bio accordingly!
  • You cannot be hired to do something that people don’t know you know how to do.  Populate your GitHub with your completed projects.  Celebrate your accomplishments both online and in person.  more on this in a bit.

“Stuff I didn’t know but wanted to hear. “

  • When socially networking (again in person or online) add your extra flavor (mine is nerd which tastes like Funyuns).  Do not be afraid to express your inner you-ness.  If you are a nerd, be a nerd.  If you are goth, be goth.  Don’t hide who you are, this day and age there is no reason to.  (Full disclosure this talk was given in Seattle WA and our most likely target employers will be startups.  I can’t speak for elsewhere and otherwise, yet.)
  • Be Bold!
  • When networking physically, its a good idea to have a physical representation token for yourself (or personal totem as I remember it).   Have something, or some way to be remembered by.  There may be in the 10^2 to 10^3 developers at this thing, have a way for someone to remember you by.  The Javascript girl with purple hair was one example (that I still remember).  You want to make it easy for the person who is trying to connect with you… to connect with you.  I think my totem is going to be my Starbucks mug.  Maybe I’ll always be the “Guy with the Starbucks mug.”  Maybe I need to work on it.


  • Own your flaws.  If there is something out there that an employer may find out about you that you believe could be detrimental to you gaining employment or keeping employment with them, they probably will so you might as well get out in front on this one.  There is so much transparency and information available on the internet for those who know how to find it that its best to just spend the time and energy you would use to cover up flaws, to instead, hone the talents you can and just be open about your flaws.
  • In a similar light, open the settings on your networking sites to be available publicly.  This includes but is not limited to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, GitHub, ect.  There is always the ability to have an additional private account for family, and while keeping your telephone and address private you will not want to make it difficult for people to contact you.  Perhaps a public email client?
  • Klout.  This is a score that through the magic of mathematical models, social web channels, statistical models, sheer volumes of data points aka people, some voodoo, and just a sprinkle of love gives you a score on your ability to reach people via social networks.  Tarah said have a score over 50!  Mine is currently 14.

I want again to thank Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack for taking the time to dispense her wisdom upon us and also for the fun and entertaining talk.  It was very helpful, answered a lot of questions I had and came at just the right time. Also I want to thank Code Fellows for hosting the event.

Until next time!

Personal Branding or Brandishing your Personality

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