Branding Yourself

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Dr. Gabriela Avram asked me to come down and give a talk to some CompSci & Digital Media final year students in the fantastic surroundings of the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick.

One of the important messages I wanted to get across to them is to take control of their own career, and of their own brand.

“Branding” is one of those fluffy business-focused words where it’s hard to see the direct relevance with individuals and their career paths. Here’s a quote from Garr Reynolds, author of the incredible Presentation Zen, to explain a little more why it’s important:

If you don’t brand yourself, you can rest assured that others are branding you. And letting others brand you can be risky business. Instead, we should have control, as much as we can, in determining our reputation, our image, and the intangibles, the ephemerals, and the perceptions and ideas that other people have about us.

With the increase in unemployment, job-hunters & graduates wanting to stand out from the crowd, personal branding is now more important than ever.

Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever too.

The Demo

As a practical demonstration for the folks at UL, I took 30 minutes of the train journey to:

  • Buy a domain name
  • Buy a CV (Resumé) template
  • Customise the template with my personal information
  • Put it live online

I did this in 30 minutes, on a busy train with no power supply, at a cost of about €15. And the end result is not bad!

Now imagine spending an evening, or a weekend on it. Pretty quickly you’d have a really great online CV to point prospective employers or clients at. You can also link it on your Twitter bio, LinkedIn, FaceBook, or anywhere else you are online.

It’s true that both I and the students in UL have some technical skills that not everyone has to get the site setup so quickly, but if you know anyone who does webdesign, they could put the above together for you in a few hours.

I’ve also seen online services like VisualCV which allow you to put your CV together with images and multimedia hosted for free on their site. LinkedIn is a CV bolted onto a social network. Personally I prefer the control and branding of my own domain, but these other options might be useful for you or someone you know.

The Mechanics

  1. I bought a .ME domain from Blacknight for only €4.49 – they gave me a discount code for the college students “ulamd” (that’s ULAMD in lower case) to make the .ME far cheaper than anywhere else online. You can use the same discount code which will be live for a couple of weeks, but if you miss it don’t worry because their normal price of €4.99 is still far cheaper than elsewhere on the web, check it out for yourself.
  2. I bought the ProCV template on Themeforest (they also have lots of other suitable templates, search for “CV” or “resume”. There’s a lot of bad press about “website templates” and I plan to address that again sometime – stay tuned 🙂
  3. I downloaded, unzipped and edited the ProCV template i.e. changed “John Doe” to my name, added my education and experience (I copy/pasted from my LinkedIn profile to do this quickly).
  4. I uploaded the edited template files to my hosting account (see my hosting recommendations here).
  5. Done!

Your Name & Domain

When it comes to domain names, I wasn’t crazy about the “.ME” extension, but it seems to be ideal for hosting something like your online CV/Resumé.

I built this site on AlastairMcDermott.ME as a demonstration site, but if YourName.COM is available I would always recommend buying that first, or both if you’re going to be heavily involved in the web or in business. I also have my own name .com, which I currently use to aggregate blogs.

That’s some quick thoughts on personal branding, please let me know what you think, and if you build a site like this, link to it below.

Update: here’s the video of my talk which includes slides and a screen capture of building the site (heavily edited for brevity, the connection speeds on the mobile broadband were quite slow).

Cheers,

Alastair.

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About the Author

I specialize in helping consultants, speakers and published authors to increase their sales. Unlike other marketers, I focus on customer lifetime value before focusing on conversion optimization. I’ve been building websites and software since 1996 and co-founded several software, web and information based startup companies and provided solutions for businesses and organisations of all sizes. I am the author of Running a Website with WordPress: A Quick Guide for Business Owners, available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions. I blog, and make media of all kinds at WebsiteDoctor.