Why You Need To Build Your Personal Brand And How To Do It

This was originally posted in the Salesforce Engineering Blog

“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to this week’s edition of salesforce.com’s Women in Tech Wednesday roundup! #SFWITWednesday

Whether we like it or not, we are the managers of our own personal brand. Here are the three things I have done to build my personal brand – and you can too!

1. Shine Bright Like A Diamond

(Thanks Rihanna for our theme song!)

First things first… It’s important to be clear on what you want and who you are to really shine. Find your specific niche and build your skills to become a thought leader or expert. Beyond just building your skills, you should be known for them in a way that differentiates you from everyone else. This is key to build your personal brand!

For example, when I was a student looking for internships, I realized I was in competition with a lot of people just like me. Hundreds of people graduate every year, so I had to figure out how I could stand out. There were two things I was most passionate about – gender diversity and technology. I decided to make that my focus. I joined the Society of Women Engineers chapter on the USC campus and was eventually nominated to be on the board. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it illustrated leadership, passion and drive and that’s exactly what companies were looking for! Cut to five years later, when I was looking for a job change. My work with Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners helped me snag a job at salesforce.com!

2. Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For

Everyone has a personal brand (including Lionel). How others perceive your online presence is just as important as how you show up in person. Make sure that when a potential employer, manager, or client does a Google search on you, they see what you want them to. It’s important across the board – blogs, websites, social media, contributions on Quora or Stack Overflow. It all matters!

Until I moved to the bay area, I didn’t have any social presence besides my Facebook profile that was locked down in a fortress of privacy. I quickly learned that people liked to keep in touch online as much as they did in person. A business card was nowhere near as valuable as having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, a Twitterhandle, a blog or a website. A friend of mine suggested I find an online handle that I could use everywhere – now I’m easily searchable because I’m ‘SukruthaSays‘ everywhere on the internet!

3. Say What You Need To Say

While it might be intimidating to speak to a crowd, it’s critical to your personal brand that you have a topic that will get people excited (John Mayer style!). Speaking at conferences, meetups or networking events is a great way to build your network. When you prepare for your talk, force yourself to imagine yourself as the listener. This will give you a new perspective on your topic of expertise.

In 2011, my then employer sponsored a Girl Geek Dinner, and I was asked to be the engineer on the panel. I hesitated at first, but decided to do it anyway. That resulted in a chain of events that led me to be the Managing Director of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners! Ever since, I have never said no to any speaking opportunities. This month, I spoke to the current batch of salesforce.com interns, and in the process I learnt so much that I didn’t already know about our customers and our products. Later this year, I plan to present a session at Dreamforce. Hopefully, I will catch some of you then!

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