November 19, 2010

Un-SQL Friday 001: Personal Branding by Accident

This post is my way to pay to the new Un-SQL blog party created by MidnightDBAs.

You hear it a lot: Personal branding and marketing are powerful, importat, etc., etc., etc. – ok, but where do you start with it? While I may not have the right answer, I found out that branding, name recognition, or whatever you want to call it could be achieved as a side effect, or like in my case, almost accidentally.

Here is the branding part…

Little I knew, about personal branding back in 2005 – and little I know today for that matter! - when I started answering questions in one of the MSDN forums. One day, I happened to be looking for help with some SSIS work I was stuck with, and decided to answer a couple of questions thinking on just returning the favor. The next thing I knew, I was addicted to answering questions on that forum, to the point I started this blog as a way to add sample code – and pretty pictures – to my forum posts. Months later, good things started to happen. First, I was promoted as forum moderator – that was like advancing to the next level in your favorite video game –. Then, I was awarded as a Microsoft MVP, followed by a promotion at work. Flash-forward to the present, earlier this year, I also managed to change jobs. How did I found the new job? My new company happened to be looking for someone with BI and SSIS skills and my blog caught their eye, and in addition to that, some of my new co-workers knew my name from either my blog or presentations I gave at community events. While it may not be reasonable to say I achieved all these via blogging and forums activities, I know they were a differentiating factor that help me standing out from the competition.

So, where is the accidental part?

First, when I started spending that much time on replying to someone else's problems 5 years ago, I wasn't doing it as part of an elaborated branding plan. I was just doing it because I found it enriching and entertaining - yes, geek entertainment –. I just liked it. Second, my lack of artistic creativity worked on my favor when I picked my blog domain, online avatars and handles. I ended up using my own name and picture which happens to align with some pieces of advise offered by branding savvies like Brent Ozar. I wish I could have come up with something as cool as the MidnightDBAs or funny as SQLChicken, but that was just plain beyond my abilities.

My 2 final cents

If you are not ready to tackle the personal branding thing just yet, don’t stress yourself over it. But at least  pick things you like – and that are legal – that can be easily aligned with your professional interests. Also, make sure you enjoy the time you invest on it, if it is not fun, then it may not be worth it.

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