Personal Branding for Technology Professionals
“Regardless of age, regardlessof position, regardless of thebusiness we happen to be in,all of us need to understand theimportance of branding. We areCEOs of our own companies: MeInc. To be in business today, ourmost important job is to behead marketer for the brandcalled You.”
Winning the Boxing Game
When you meet someone for the ﬁrsttime, you will spend your ﬁrst few minutes forming an initial opinion of theperson. Does the person capture yourinterest in some way? Does the personprovide a clear and compelling elevatorpitch? Often, people have less than twominutes to say something memorablebefore they are boxed.Let’s follow Jack and Janet, twotechnology professionals attending anIT conference. Jack and Janet meet eachother at the event’s networking session.While they’re standing in line for thehors d’oeuvre table, Jack and Janet starttalking. ey smile, shake hands, andintroduce themselves. Jack explains whohe is and what he does for a living, andthen Janet does the same.Jack introduces himself ﬁrst. Janet listensfor keywords—such as Software Engineer,Technical Architect, Project Manager, orSenior Consultant—terms that identify Jack’s role and make it easier for her toremember him. Jack introduces himself as a Software Engineer from Santa Clara,California. Janet cues in on “SoftwareEngineer” and creates this mental taglinefor him. Janet has “boxed” Jack.When it’s Janet’s turn to introduce herself,Jack will try to “box” Janet. However,Janet knows how to distinguish herself.When Jack asks what Janet does, sheconﬁdently smiles and quickly tells how last week her client called her a “SeniorSleep Consultant and Career Accelerator.”Last quarter, the client’s implementationproject went so smoothly that he was ableto sleep easily at night. Her client hadeven received a promotion because theproject had gone so successfully. In justtwo minutes, Janet skillfully tells a story that reveals her passion, skills, and cleversense of humor.By the time Janet and Jack ﬁll their plateswith hors d’oeuvres, both of them willhave been through two quick “boxing”rounds with each other. Let’s not blameeither Jack or Janet. We all use this boxingtechnique to some degree. When wemeet people, we need simple ways toremember them and describe them toothers.e next day at the conference, Janetsees her friend, Paul, at an early-morningpanel session. After these twolong-time friends catch up with eachother’s lives, Paul asks, “have you metanyone interesting here so far?” Janetreplies, “Well, I met Jack, a softwareengineer from Santa Clara last night.”at’s all that Janet says about him. Shedoesn’t want to repeat Jack’s whole spiel,and Paul really won’t be interested in him.e conversation between Janet and Paulquickly moves on to other topics. Jack hasmissed an opportunity.When Jack sees his boss after theconference, he retells one of Janet’sstories—how she transformed a client’scrisis into a resounding success. Jack’sboss recognizes talent behind the story and asks, “Did you get Janet’s card? I’dlove to meet her.”In competitive boxing, there can only be one winner. However, whenever twopeople meet, they can both diﬀerentiatethemselves and have successful boxingrounds. Jack needs a compellingelevator speech—something that will bememorable and remarkable.But really, Jack needs more than justcommunication skills. Jack needs todevelop his personal brand. When Jackcan present himself, his experience,and his capabilities in a compellingway, people won’t place him intounremarkable boxes. Instead, people willwant to know more about Jack, and they will also tell their friends about him.
Tom Peters in