What is the Value of Brand “You”?

(This post first appeared on vdestination.com on 7th June)

As technology users, implementers, evangelists, etc. we are bombarded with brands from vendors in our sector and, as consumers, we are continuously targeted by brands tempting us to buy their products.  But have you ever considered yourself as a brand? Recently there has been a swathe of community folks being snapped up by vendors. This is reminiscent of the late 2000’s when EMC scooped up a number of high profile people to join their vSpecialist team (now disbanded though). The likes of Scott Lowe and Simon Seagrave, who were then both independent bloggers and author in Scott’s case, got hired by EMC.  Both had (and still do!) a very high profile within the community and that, I am sure, helped them get their new roles.  The value of your brand can really help you in your chosen career. Or even change your career direction.

I was privileged to recently be invited to a webinar hosted by JJ DiGeronimo, Global Director, Cloud and SDDC at VMware.  Although JJ’s mentoring is aimed at women, the messages she delivered are pertinent to all of us looking to specialize, and be recognized for that specialism.  She spoke about how to use social media to advance your career and gave guidance, from her own experience, on how to deploy social media platforms to raise your profile in your chosen area of specialism.  JJ identified cloud as an area she wished to get involved in and after researching the area, she started to write and post about cloud.  At that time if you searched cloud on LinkedIn she came out on the first page out of nearly 1 million results! She had previously applied for a role and was not successful but subsequently was head hunted by VMware for her current role due to her activity in social media around cloud! Given my focus of marketing in virtualization, I was then tempted to search Virtualzation Marketing on LinkedIn and was REALLY pleased to be listed number 2 out of nearly 79,000 results! If you’re interested the replay of her webinar is here.

And it’s not just about Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., what about raising your profile by submitting a speaking slot at your local VMUG?  If you’re not a member of a local VMUG, shame on you!  You can sign up here, it’s free to join and it’s free to attend your local meetings.  As a co-leader of the London VMUG here in the UK, I’ve seen some of our members really grow professionally by starting out speaking in front of their peer group, finding their feet as a speaker and, in some cases, getting head hunted either by other organizations or by vendors.

You can also attend unconferences, such as CloudCamp – here you have the opportunity to engage in lightening talks and participate in attendee panels; it’s a really unique format and one that I personally learn a lot from when I get the chance to attend.

Clearly, it’s not just about your career, many of us choose to blog, be involved with VMUGs or whatever because we’re passionate about it.  Look at the number of community peeps designated vExperts this year, over 580 (the blog states 581, but I think with a few late entries, it’s up to 583 🙂 ), all these people contribute to the cloud and virtualization community over and above their ‘day job’.  While some feel the higher number devalues the accolade, I feel as the community grows the number of people giving more back will increase, thus the number of vExperts will increase.  But, as with any relationship, don’t expect to get anything out if you don’t put anything in – the power of the VMware community, in my opinion, is that so many people do give back so much just due to their passion, period.

So next time you post on Twitter, or blog about your findings in your VMware implementation, just remember who might be watching or reading, they could be your next employer.  That is the value of Brand You!