A complete guide to how and why you could go about creating your online presence
For a developer, having a personal brand is slightly different than having a personal brand as a marketer, for example. In some ways, it is easier because you are going to share your lessons and knowledge, instead of trying to sell a product or service. But in other ways, it's the same as you're showcasing your capabilities.
Today, I'd like to give you a guide on what to do for a developer's personal brand and how to start your journey of a having an online presence as a developer.
Code repository (Github, Bitbucket, etc)
This is a public repository account that shows your contribution to open-source projects and your own projects
Why you would want to have a public code repository:
Code repository works as a place to showcase your capabilities in technical craft, how you stay involved and active in changes in technology landscape and what kind of tinkering you do outside of work (eg: hobby projects).
A technical blog teaching other developers how to debug, code, and optimize. When I was a developer, I never ran out of content ideas because I would be developing every single day and talking to other developers. And I basically just converted that learning and conversation into blog posts.
Why you would want to have a blog:
There are many advantages that come with blogging. More than a decade ago, I used my blog as an online notepad, so that I could refer to the information, usually code snippets, tips and tricks, again when I needed then. Later, as I progress in my career, I use it to share my knowledge and findings, and today, I use my blog as an avenue for thought leadership content. A good blog can grow with your career and serves as an extension to your resume.
If you're a developer, you should start blogging - and here's why.
On top of maintaining your own blog, you may also like to contribute in developer forums such as Stack overflow, #Dev Community, reddit and Quora.
Why you would want to participate in online communities:
One key benefit of participating in online communities is that you can easily connect with other likeminded developers. They will then become your support network who can provide you their opinion when you need an unbiased input and vice versa.
Events & conferences
Another way to build your personal is to be involved and seen at industry events, meetups and conferences. There are a lot of them these days, more than there were ten years ago. Since Covid-19, almost every event is a virtual event so it's easier entry for introverted developers who do not enjoy crowds. When it comes to events and conferences, there are generic ones for technology industry and more specific ones for a particular programming language or a framework, and you can choose the ones that is aligned with your career goals.
Why you would want to participate in events & conferences:
Same reason as being involved in online communities, you want to be seen often and be at the top of mind for people in the technology industry. Out of sight, out of mind, is a true statement for a fast-paced and rapidly growing industry like tech.
Being a speaker sound intimidating for many people. I know a lot of developers would rather code non-stop for 24 hours without food than speak for 10 minutes in front of an audience. But I encourage you to try and take baby steps. It gets easier and it is very rewarding to be able to share what you know, and connect with audience who appreciate your insights.
I am an Asian non-native English speaker. I am petite and soft-spoken. Sometimes, I'll take a few seconds to reply to you because I'm busy translating what I want to say in my head from my mother tongue to English. I speak with an accent. I was often too uncomfortable and embarrassed to hear myself speak in one on one settings, let alone speak in-front of an audience. That was until a few years ago. Today, I consider myself a pretty good speaker - warm, authentic and knowledgeable. If you're interested to learn about how I overcame my own limiting belief about speaking in front of an audience, you can read about it here.
Social media is great for gaining visibility in a quick and efficient way because it's so accessible to anyone and everyone. It can be used for both personal and professional endeavours or a mix of both, which is something that I would recommend. There is value in showing a personal side of you because at the end of the day, you are a human behind a computer screen. Be active and helpful on social media by posting tutorials, tips, tricks, and techniques that you have discovered in your role as a software developer. Twitter and LinkedIn are better social media platforms for developers than Facebook and Instagram.
Why you would want to have social media presence:
There are 3 main reasons why I recommend keeping a social media presence. Firstly, it's a quick and easy way for you to show up, secondly, it allows you to show a bit of a personal side of you and lastly, it is where a lot of folks spend their time online and thus, a solid reach. According to statistics by Emarsys, there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. And contrary to popular belief about social media only being used by millennials or the younger generation, according to Emarketer's research, 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active social media users. So there is definitely a good representation of all generations.
Start cultivating your personal brand today
If you want to thrive in your career as a developer, you need to be strategic and set career goals to help you get to where you want to be. You need to put in your best effort, stand out from the crowd, and own your career. One of the ways to do that is through your personal brand online. Do you have a visible personal brand? If so, good on you. Keep doing it, keep sharing your knowledge, keep showing up, and keep being you authentically! If you haven't made an effort to cultivate your personal brand yet, I hope I've encouraged you to start by giving you a complete guide on where and why you might like to begin your journey. Having an authentic personal brand and visibility online truly has helped me a lot in my career and I wish the same for you.