Career Nav #39: Nurture Your Brand by Building Influential Technical Content

Career Nav #39: Nurture Your Brand by Building Influential Technical Content

Written by Priyanka Vergadia


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Priyanka Vergadia, Staff Developer Advocate at Google and Board Advisor at Women Who Code, shares her talk, “Nurture Your Personal Brand by Building Influential Technical Content.” She discusses creating a personal brand and how being a content creator can support and grow your brand. She shares tips on how to remain consistent and committed to having successful content.

What is a personal brand? It has to be personal, it has to be yours. In your professional life, how do you want to be perceived by whoever you interact with? That’s what personal brand means. It could mean internally, where you work, your company, or your team. How do they perceive you? How would you like them to perceive you? That’s what it boils down to. The goals that I have are very different from yours when it comes to the personal brand because they also depend on you, your personality, and what’s important to you. I like to learn things and demystify them for other people. That’s my personal brand. Somebody else’s brand could be focused on diversity. There’s a lot of introspection involved here. Knowing what you want to do, what you want your brand to stand for, and who you are internally also playing a huge role. Sit down with yourself, figure out how you want to be perceived, and take steps towards making others perceive you that way.

Once you have a personal brand, it can be helpful in a lot of different ways. You’re trusted more, you become a reliable voice. If you’ve focused time on building your brand, people may approach you to talk about the brand that you’ve built. You could speak at conferences or on podcasts. If you don’t care about speaking, the one crucial thing that all of us can utilize in our everyday job is internal visibility. That brings you a lot of exposure to new projects you might want to be part of. It can open up career opportunities. It can even help you get promoted because you are making your work visible. More people would know your and not just your job. There are immense benefits, even if you don’t think about external personal branding.

How are content creation and personal brand related? Content creation can help you reinforce what you stand for to other people. You’ve decided you are good at X, Y, or Z, and want your personal brand to be around that. Content can help you showcase that area of expertise. You showcase who you are and what you stand for, and then comes your expertise, which content enables you to showcase as well. It helps make yourself more visible and identifiable online and inside your company. Once you start building a little bit of content, you start to build confidence for yourself, and you begin to grow credibility. It can open a lot of doors.

How do you get started with content creation? What do you write about? What do you blog about? What do you create a video about? It boils down to being open to exploring newer fields and starting with something you are passionate about. You need to be able to sustain the energy and excitement. Start a little bit broader. Then you can go down deep into one area, maybe come back out if you get bored, and then go deep into another area. It allows you to explore a little bit more. Choose content formats that are more natural to you. I would write one blog, create a video, create a social post, do one of each, and see which interests you. Focus on that format and then come back and explore some of the other formats later. You want it to be sustainable.

Why should people read or listen to you? This is a big one that many people I’ve mentored ask. You need to build that credibility so they can trust what you’re saying to listen to or read your blog. That could automatically be there because you are an expert in the field, but if somebody starts from scratch, you must explore your uniqueness. The way you explain things may be unique. The way you approach them may be unique. The way you write about them may be unique. The kind of videos you create may be special. Your personality is different from mine or somebody sitting next to you. Bring that into anything that you’re writing or creating. The first blog will probably not get many reads and shares. It comes over time. You have to stick to it. It’s a long game. Be authentic and consistent. You don’t need to be an expert. You can always say, “I’m learning, and I’m going to explain it to everybody else.” Intentionality is extremely important. Why are you doing this? Why are you building whatever piece of content you’re making? If you’re writing a blog, why are you writing it? Who are you writing it for? What are they going to get out of it? All of those things are important.

How do you grow your personal brand? You have to commit to it. I usually use a calendar. I have a sheet where I write it down. I sit down one day, and then I say, these are my four blog ideas. Let me jot them down. Here are the two videos I have wanted to create for a long time. Let me jot those down. I come back every two days or so. I block off an hour and start writing the things I planned on the sheet. That gives you a little bit of accountability. That’s the process that works for me. There might be other ways that work for you. It’s making sure that it is a constant effort and commitment. You have to post regularly. You must continue to have that pipeline of ideas and then keep writing it. Identify your style. Do more of what has worked for you. Find collaborators. Work with others to grow your audience. Use this community. Reach out to them, and ask them to collaborate with you. That helps you grow in your journey of content creation and personal branding a little faster. Don’t ignore LinkedIn. You build your online portfolio by posting your blogs, GitHub repos, and projects. It’s not just blogs and videos. It’s all the things that help you showcase what you have learned and what you offer to the community with your expertise.

Put all the stuff you’re creating on LinkedIn into your running resume. When recruiters look at your profile, they know who you are. Connect with the followers. If somebody’s asking a question, give them a reply. Be curious about why they asked what they asked. It can be intimidating to see comments that might be asking you for more information or pointing out that you missed something. Own it. Have fun with it. That’s what’s most important about all of this. Don’t worry about perfection. Over time, you will learn based on what you have done in the past. Your content will automatically improve as you start to retrospect what worked and what didn’t. Create a plan, and mix it up a little bit. Share a bit about you too. We enjoy talking about tech so much. We forget about bringing a little bit of our personality out. People want to know who you are. They want to connect with you.

For introverts, networking online is more accessible than networking in person. All you have to do is reach out to a few people, let’s say, on LinkedIn. If you reach out to 10, maybe two will reply. It’s easier than going up to somebody and talking. If you’re an introvert, I would utilize that. It’s essential, and it’ll help you make many connections. In content, you need to be concise and short, and it works in our favor. Introverts make excellent content because they know how to keep things brief. If you follow the right folks in the community, you will see that many people around you are introverts. Don’t even let that come as a barrier in your mind. Reach out to one or two people for collaboration. Accelerate with the help of other folks who already have established themselves in the community. Find these people and connect with them.

Video: Nurture Your Personal Brand by Building Influential Technical Content
Guest: Priyanka Vergadia, Staff Developer Advocate @ Google