Building a personal brand in IT

Although web developers don’t need to invest in personal branding as much as, say, business owners and investors, having a sparkling profile and a name that rings a bell to anyone in the industry definitely helps with impressing hiring managers.

It is no question that the most important sections of your portfolio are your programming skills and years of experience, but a little bit of self-promotion never hurts anybody.

Here is what personal branding is all about, and how it can help you take your career to the next level.

Why is it important to have a strong personal brand?

Many people see the term ‘personal branding’ as something that is too sleazy or self-promotional.

But, in fact, it is a practice of positioning yourself not only as a person who’s good at what they do, but also as someone who has great soft skills, a vision for their career and also has the ability to adapt to the changing trends of the industry and their profession.

Personal branding, simply explained, is marketing yourself as a professional, adapting your portfolio and social media to reflect your skills and expertise, and positioning yourself as an important individual within a particular industry.

And the truth is, any big player in any industry or social sphere, from Elon Musk to Barack Obama, has a personal brand.

It is a mix of how people see you and how you see and present yourself, but also puts the focus on your people skills.

Being professional, friendly, giving back to your community by sharing knowledge and having the emotional intellect to be able to bond with people easily are all very important factors when looking for a job. On top of that, conducting yourself professionally says that you are willing to continuously invest in yourself and learn new things.

Good coding skills can get you a job, no doubt, but enriched with a strong personal brand, you can get a great job or even create your own business.

Tips on developing a personal brand

We’ve established that a personal brand is undoubtedly going to help you in your future job search, and even bigger business ventures.

So, how do you do it?

With some simple tactics that don’t take a lot of finance, effort and time, you can tick the basics of personal branding as done. Here’s what to do.

Tips on building your personal brand as a developer

Build a personal website and portfolio

With sufficient knowledge of search engine optimization and your already existing coding skills, you should be able to create a comprehensive and well-branded personal website.

There are a couple of reasons why this will be very helpful:

  • Adding a link to your website in your portfolio will communicate that you like to take an extra effort in your career;
  • Localizing the on-page SEO and using relevant keywords for your industry and location will help you to be more easily discovered by recruiters;
  • It shows your coding skills in action;
  • You can target a particular niche or tech stack with the right keywords;
  • It shows that you like your job and don’t mind investing some extra time in it;
  • Giving back to your community and sharing your tips and best practices will help you be seen as a thought leader.

Regularly update your LinkedIn profile

We all know that LinkedIn is where it all happens. Recruiters, interviewers and peers that you can network with are all going to be there, so updating your profile and portfolio, sharing interesting news and thought pieces—and even writing articles natively on LinkedIn can be very useful.

On top of that, the more active you are on LinkedIn, the more people can discover you on the feed or in the suggested connections area.

Share your knowledge through blog posts

You can use your personal website, open your publication on Medium, write guest blogs for companies or IT forums, or even just post them on LinkedIn. But, regardless of the channel, sharing your expertise with peers can be a great way to make your name be remembered.

Generally speaking, developers often search for quick tips and ways that a particular issue can be solved, so if you have any advice to help out your peers and to impress potential employers through your written content—go for it!

Just think about how many times you’ve found a smart solution to a problem you had on a forum or on someone else’s blog. You could be the writer of the blog that’ll help another developer yourself.

Contribute to an open-source project

The best way to showcase your skills in what you do best—coding—is to make open-source contributions or even start a project yourself.

Open a GitHub or GitLab account and check out some of the ongoing projects there. Development platforms like these are some of the best places where you can contribute with your knowledge and experience.

By having those projects go live, you can allow people to use them further in their own coding missions in the future. And a good stack overflow score is an extra medal you can attach to your already outstanding portfolio!

Connect with people at industry events

Networking is something that most of us secretly despise. Avoiding the ever-present awkwardness of meeting new people, especially in a corporate setting, can be very hard to perfect for so many people.

But, it is as bright as day that networking helps you widen your professional network, meet people that can help you find a job or collaborate with in the future, or simply inspire you to learn something new.

Since the world is slowly going back to normal and conferences and seminars are popping back up on everyone’s calendars, you can find an event or two where you can meet people that have similar interests and skills as yourself.

There are plenty of scouting talent events or open days at certain organizations as well, and they can give you the opportunity to introduce yourself and learn about prospective employers at the same time.

Create an online course

Online courses are very useful for everyone who might be interested in learning something from your experience, and an amazing opportunity to put your name out there with the important industry people.

Be it a live stream on YouTube or Twitch, or a more reserved experience where you hold a live course on Zoom, it’s up to you. But it is a great tactic to be seen as an important figure in your tech field.

Be a guest on a YouTube channel or podcast

This might be a step too far for most of us, but if you aren’t camera-shy or think you could contribute to a podcast with a good topic, being a guest on popular media for developers is definitely going to put your name on the map.

There are a lot of useful tutorial channels and podcasts that developers (whether juniors or vetted professionals with years of experience) like to listen to.

Speak at conferences and webinars

If you are coming from a smaller country with a software industry where everyone sort of knows each other, speaking at a conference or webinar can be super easy to pull off. For bigger markets, keynote speakers and guest lecturers are usually very important people.

However, you can also find events that accept new speakers or even pitch a webinar idea to the company where you currently work as well. If you are good with public speaking and don’t mind the spotlight, being a speaker at an industry-relevant event is something you can definitely leverage in your portfolio.

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