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9 steps to build your personal brand (and your career)

Rich Hein | May 23, 2013
Competition in the tech jobs industry is fierce, so how do you differentiate yourself from the pack? Whether you're a job seeker or just looking to grow professionally, creating an impressive and meaningful brand is the best place to start.

2. Figure out how it's relevant to your industry
"People are looking for specialists not generalists when recruiting and promoting now. If you can become the best at what you do you will become sought after," says Schawbel.

Once you've got a handle on the one or two things that you do best you have to relate how that is important to potential employers. You have to think larger than your company and look at the industry as whole sometimes in order to do this. "What benefits to organizations can you consistently deliver?" says Van Vreede.

Rucker concurs adding you have to know what your value is and try and build a story around that narrative that shows potential employers why they need you. "What makes what you important to the industry? You need to be able to explain the history around that. It's not so much about understanding the new tool that's hot, it's about understanding the evolution of what's happening in the industry and why what you are able to do helps make you more important than the next person who says they are an industry expert," says Rucker.

3. Build out your social profiles
Use different social networks like LinkedIn, BranchOut and Google+, for example, and create your online profile. "Careers are being developed online now. That's the big shift. I look at the Internet like a global talent pool, so if you don't have a website or profiles on these social networks then you aren't part of the global talent pool. Network with people who you can learn from and who can connect you to new opportunities," says Schawbel.

According to Schawbel's research having your own site is essential and with the advent of technologies like Wordpress that are free and relatively painless to set up there's no reason not to.

4. Create content and get it out there
There are a number of ways to create content. You could contribute to an open source project, create a webcast, write a whitepaper, create a group in your social network of choice and lead the discussion on relevant topics.

"You can quickly build and strengthen your brand using social media by blogging, commenting on online posts within relevant content communities, joining twitter chats and engaging others in LinkedIn groups and forums," says Van Vreede.

Don't expect anyone else to make this happen for you. "You are going to have to go out there and look for opportunities; they aren't going to come and find you," says Rucker. She does, however, offer some original places to reach out. Perhaps you're a developer and you are interested in creating a whitepaper on a new technology. Identify a nonprofit working with that technology and offer your services. The work will allow you to learn about the new technology, write a whitepaper and add valuable experience on your resume.


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