The Practical Marketing of Yourself, A How-To Guide

Every year the vExpert group is announced, and every year I’m excited to look at the breakdown of where people live, where they work and how the global community has shifted from year-to-year.  I put up a spreadsheet with everyone’s information (as much as we are given by VMware directly in the announcement), and invite the group to edit their own information.  Every year, the response is overwhelming, and the vast majority of people take the time to make sure their data is current; people move jobs, move geographies, update blog names and Twitter handles.

selfmarketingNot everyone updates the spreadsheet, however.  That’s okay, people are busy, and some don’t speak English which is an obvious barrier.  I’m happy to take the time to go through the list and provide information for those folks based on the information I have, and use the wonder of the internet to fill in the rest.  Between Twitter and LinkedIn, most of the information is available publicly, but man can it be a pain to tease it out when all you have to go on is just a first and last name.

In the spirit of helping people understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to personal marketing, I’ve compiled a quick list of things I’d like every one in the technology community to do right away!  Having looked at over 400 profiles in the last week or so, it’s amazing some of the things that I’ve seen.  Here are the dos and don’ts.

  • ThumbsUpDO: Create a LinkedIn profile. Like it or not, it’s become a more-or-less global standard in the tech industry, and you have to have one.  It doesn’t have to be a place you go to GET information (frankly, it sucks as a community, IMO) but it does need to be a place you can GIVE people information about yourself.
  • ThumbsUpDO: Use the same, or a similar profile picture on your different social media outlets.  Yes, I know that picture you found of Batman riding a unicorn is amazeballs, but if you aren’t going to link to your LinkedIn profile directly, not using the same picture makes it hard to find you!  This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, though.  Chris Wahl has an awesome Simpson’s cartoon as his Twitter avatar, but since it looks exactly like him it’s easy to match up with his LinkedIn profile!
  • ThumbsUpDO: Link to your profile from your blog!  I can’t tell you how many blogs I visited that had an “About” page with an awesome paragraph or two about the author, yet had no LinkedIn information.  There will be people who read your blog and want to hire you, or at least learn more about you!  Make it easier for them to get what they need.  Don’t miss this easy opportunity to expand your community reach!
  • ThumbsUpDO: Use an page (or another service along those lines) if you aren’t going to blog.  It’s a great way to put all your contact and social media on one page, without having to invest a ton of time in maintaining something.  Matt Davis is a great example of this, here’s what his looks like.  I was a big fan of Vizify for this kind of thing, alas Yahoo bought them and their downward spiral was quick and thorough.
  • ThumbsDownDON’T: Use a protected Twitter account.  Seriously?  If you are going to have a protected Twitter account, don’t bother listing it on your vExpert application!  I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, since both personal and professional divorces can be messy and sometimes you have to pull back from social media, but it definitely doesn’t count as part of your social outreach at that point!
  • ThumbsDownDON’T: Use GPS coordinates as your location on Twitter.  I think we found out that there are a couple Twitter clients (UberTwitter for Blackberry and TweetBot for iPhone) that give you the option of using your phone’s location to automatically update your Twitter profile.  Just say no.  First, there are lots of apps that will let you “check in” to your current location and do a much better job.  Second, GPS coordinates aren’t human-friendly and mean that normal folks won’t bother to see where you actually are.  Besides, if I needed to hire a vExpert in a specific location, why not make it easy for me?
  • ThumbsDownDON’T: Make people chase you from website to website to get the whole picture.  So many times I’d start with a Twitter profile that didn’t have a picture, or list a location, or show an employer but had a blog link.  The blog didn’t have any more information, but did have a LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn had everything, but it took me three stops to get there.  If you want to keep all your professional info in LinkedIn (which is a great idea!) make sure to link to it from everywhere!  If you are using WordPress for your blog, you can even pull directly from the LinkedIn API to populate your “About” page like I’ve done here.  I’m using the “WP LinkedIn” plugin, but there are plenty like it.

Market-Yourself-400x265At the end of the day, no matter where you are in your professional journey, it’s always a good idea to make sure that the people who are interested in your background and abilities can find that information as easily as possible, and in professional programs like the VMware vExperts, where your community involvement is a huge part of the value of the program, it’s essential!  Help yourself, and help the community, and share who you are and what you do as freely as possible.  Marketing yourself and your skills is one of the easiest things you can do, and who knows what dividends it could pay!