In this article, I’d like to discuss how I stumbled onto the path of personal branding by identifying my area of expertise. By sharing this story, I hope you are able to take a few shortcuts to finding your own path to personal branding.
First, why are personal branding and expertise important?
- Personal branding is a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd, a time-tested cornerstone of career development. Additionally, it invites conversation with like-minded folks.
- Developing expertise is essential to personal branding. It may be subjective but can be seen as a skill that adds additional value. You may ask, don’t we all have expertise? Well, yes and no. To the outside world, a discipline (such as engineering) may be seen to have a level of expertise, but within the bounds of that discipline, at best, it can be a level playing field unless you actively build your expertise.
The Foundation of Personal Branding Is Expertise
A quick online search reveals the following steps to personal branding:
- Perform an audit of your online footprint.
- Remove threats hurting your reputation in search results.
- Create and post assets highlighting your best qualities.
- Strengthen your credibility through reputation maintenance.
- Monitor the results and tweak your strategy based on successes.
That’s all fine, but you need some expertise to act as your foundation.
Now, which comes first, the branding or the expertise? I think of personal branding as a continually reviewed, long-term investment. So even a small level of expertise is enough to get the ball rolling—a small foundation to grow.
My Journey to Personal Branding
I began my journey within my company. I developed some expertise in coding alongside my day-to-day activities, I shared some results from a side-line project internally, and ultimately, this formed a core offering within our business. It could have ended there, but I realized this was the perfect foundation for my personal branding. I must state that I am still in the early process of developing my personal brand on this foundation, with my next stage being developing a website.
I can hear you: “Lovely story, Jamie, but how does this help me?”
Well, let me tell you how I overcome the biggest hurdle that I have faced: resistance.
In the context of personal branding through developing expertise, I believe resistance manifests itself in two key ways:
- The resistance to developing expertise (I was here)
- The resistance to showcase that content/skill (I’m now here)
Resistance comes from fear and uncertainty, and we need to control it to move forward. I have faced it before, and I will face it again, as resistance is an ever-present seed of doubt when on a path of continuous improvement. Managing this uncertainty is key. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed resistance, try following these three steps:
- Make a decision to focus on ONE thing/direction.
- Start making progress in that direction, no matter how small, step by step.
- Reflect on the decision and allow the mental feedback loop to begin.
Picking one thing removes the worry of deciding on a direction; you then minimize the risk by exploring this direction with small steps and you get immediate feedback on your decision. Ultimately, you are overcoming resistance. In the worst case, you slow your progress and figure out which direction not to take (this is still progress and you aren’t paralyzed by choice).
This approach is simple and inspired by three books:
I’d like to summarize this article as follows, if you are looking to develop a personal brand:
- Find your expertise/foundation
- Follow the standard five steps
- Use the guidelines to overcome resistance
About the Author
Jamie Buck is a senior Safety & Reliability engineer working for a risk management consultancy in the United Kingdom. He has worked with many different industries and is passionate about integrating data science and leveraging bespoke software for improving productivity. He is currently building his own personal brand and his website is under development. Please get in touch for more details >> https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-buck-9a938880/
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about how you can overcome resistance while developing your personal brand.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success