NOTE: The MidnightDBAs are starting a new series for community blogging activities devoted to items which are ancillary or tangential to SQL. The first topic to be discussed is Branding.
Prior to approximately five years ago I had never really thought about my personal brand and how it was that I would like to be viewed, or how I was currently being viewed, by the community at large. I knew some things about office politics, but that is about the extent of what I thought about. At this point I started to follow along on the MSDN Integration Services forums as a way to learn more about the product that I was spending most of my time with. This soon turned into me answering questions on a regular basis, which in turn led me to becoming introduced to several prominent members of the SSIS community. I recognized these individuals because I had grown to respect them based on their involvement through blogs, forums and presentations.
Something clicked. I realized that I wanted to be good at what I did, I wanted to know the product inside and out, and I wanted to be able to convey that knowledge to others as others had done for me.
However, at this point I still hadn’t really thought too much about what this meant in the long run or how it might affect my career. I, like many others, had done the vanity Google searches on my name. I knew that most of the information which came up was based on either the SSIS Forums or various hobbies and activities in which I was involved. But I hadn’t really thought about the fact that the information that was out there was often a mixed signal. My blog was just a place where I wrote about anything which might come to mind. I had personal opinions, hobbies, diatribes and various items interspersed with my professional items. I didn’t really do social media at the time. I had the same email for work and play. Furthermore, I hadn’t clearly documented my accomplishments. I didn’t have an accessible online Resume, let alone a Curriculum Vitae (C.V.), that I kept up to date. Essentially, there was very little to set me apart from anyone else. Any prospective employer wouldn’t have a clue as to who I was or what I was about. Anyone who wanted to attend a presentation I would give similarly wouldn’t have any reason to believe they could trust me. There was no separation. There was no vision or direction.
Then, bright and early one morning at the SQL Saturday in Pensacola I sat in on a one of Steve Jones’ presentations: The Modern Resume. This session was instrumental for me in starting to view my image as a whole. It was really the first time that I had heard anyone bring up branding as it relates to an individual as opposed to a product. But, after I stopped and thought about it for a few minutes it made perfect sense. We are our own products. And, just like the other types of products there are going to be some really great items that are not well presented… and no one will discover them. Of course, conversely, there are going to be some really shoddy items that are packaged really well.
I am not a consultant. My next job, selection as a presenter, selection for an award or ability to be a mentor to others in the community may have nothing whatsoever to do with my brand. But they might. The key is to realize that the image that you present is important.
So, as some closing tips:
- You should start to develop professional goals and plan for them accordingly. Revisit this plan multiple times a year.
- Ensure that others have a method of contacting you that is easy to find.
- Keep your C.V. up to date and accessible.
- Try to keep personal and professional content separate. You can be a genius DBA by day and Rockstar by night, but odds are the two are going to clash in some peoples eyes. Let others know that you can compartmentalize.
- Network. Really, it’s fun to talk to people.
- Become involved in the community.
What are you waiting for?