Can tech entrepreneurs become media stars and have a fantastic personal brand? Can programmers and coders become influencers in their area of expertise? In this post, we find answers to these questions through an interview with Leonard Kim, a Top Marketing Influencer recognized by Forbes. Leonard is also recognized as a Top Digital Marketer and Top Youth Marketer by Inc. Magazine, and as a Top Personal Branding Expert by Entrepreneur. He went from being almost homeless to becoming a personal branding expert whose content has been read over 10 million times. He has amassed a social media following of well over 500,000 people. He’s been featured in a huge list of publications, including Mashable, Inc, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune and more.
Leonard is managing partner of InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach professionals how to build their brand, get featured in publications and growth hack their social media following.
If you are a tech professional and looking for a way to grow your clout (and Klout score), get ‘social proof’ of what you do, and learn the best practices for using LinkedIn and other social networks, this is an interview you must read!
How crucial is personal branding for technology professionals?
Personal branding is especially important for technology professionals. Techies are some of the highest paid professionals in the marketplace today and with any high paying career, a personal brand is absolutely essential. Sure, you may be the best at what you do, but if no one knows who you are, then you won’t be able to work at the big startups or leading companies. And if you’re a tech entrepreneur, no one is going to take you seriously unless you’ve earned some clout in your space.
What are some of the ways technology professionals can use social media to build their personal brand?
Developers and programmers need to spend time building out their Github and Stack Exchange profiles. By showcasing their expertise, they can generate social proof from other developers and programmers who vouch for their work. Always remember, when you offer to help a community, the community will also help you back. This will open many doors for career opportunities. For tech entrepreneurs, they can build their brands on platforms like Twitter, Quora, Medium, Product Hunt and so forth.
How do PR, social media and SEO influence a person’s overall brand?
PR and social media are two of the strongest ways to back the authority of your personal brand. You don’t want to go around saying you’re the best at something. People won’t take you seriously. However, if you have a few thousand social media followers, then you have a community vouching for what you do. If you have some mainstream press, then you have trusted outlets also saying that you’re great at what you do. When you have both combined, you automatically generate SEO, but you create something even more important called ‘social proof’.
What is social proof? It’s when you look at a line of 100 people outside of an event. It makes you want to figure out what is going on. It’s when you see two restaurants, one that’s full and one that’s empty. You want to eat at the one that’s full. Ultimately, it’s when others are validating your worth in the marketplace.
What are some LinkedIn best practices that can help a tech professional build a strong personal brand?
To build a great personal brand, before you even think of creating content, you must start with positioning. What does a person who visits your page see? The first thing is your cover image. Make sure it’s showcasing either your creativity or your personality. Don’t use a cheesy picture or a stock image. Get it professionally shot. Just like your cover photo, your headshot needs to be professionally shot as well. Real photographers cost upwards of $300 for a headshot. You’re in a career where many professionals make six figures. So, $300 is really a small price to pay towards building your personal brand.
Secondly, you must create a one liner that highlights your area of expertise. Just putting ‘programmer’ isn’t going to cut it. Try using a sentence instead, like “coding impenetrable fortresses daily from 6 am to midnight.” Sounds more intriguing, right? Then tell a story in your bio. I’d suggest highlighting the key components that led you into your current career today. Add some personality in there, like your interests and failures. Make yourself look human, not like a Greek Goddess that no one can relate to.
Thirdly, add in some of your milestones and achievements into your work history. Whatever you do, don’t make your LinkedIn look anything close to a resume, because those get tossed into the trash. After all, this is done and only once this is done, you can work on creating content and connecting with others.
How can a tech professional become a ‘tech influencer’ in their area of expertise?
A tech professional can become an influencer in their area of expertise by creating content. It doesn’t matter if it’s the written word, images or video. It just matters that you’re creating content. What kind of content should you be creating? If there’s breaking news in your industry, you should be sharing it with your commentary from the experience in your field. Is there a topic you know better than anyone else? Get it documented and put it online.
Don’t hold back on what you know. It’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. They’re scared others are going to steal their expertise. Keep in mind, the only ones who will (steal) can’t afford you or your services, and they’re not your target market anyway. So, give your absolute best into everything you do. However, make sure you don’t make it dry and boring. Add flavor into all of it by including your personality through personal stories. Don’t be shy. Your stories are the bonds that will connect you with the rest of the world.
Communicate within communities, network and build relationships. Tell others how much you enjoy and appreciate their work. Tell them how it has impacted you. Start sharing the content of others, then ultimately, others will start doing the same for you.
Which personal qualities or skills should a tech professional develop in themselves to build a great first impression?
Have you ever met someone and thought, “Wow, that person knows their stuff, but they’re so condescending and mean. I never want to work with them!” If you want to develop and build a great first impression, you need to go work on yourself first. If people think you’re cocky and arrogant, you need to work on eliminating those traits. If people think you’re condescending, you need to work on giving others respect. If people think you’re a Debbie Downer, you need to work on your positivity. If people think you’re insecure, you need to go find some confidence. Whatever your flaws are, you need to work as hard as you can to eliminate them, or when you build your brand, that’s all people will see. No matter what, the truth of who you are is what comes out in your content.
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