My good friends Sean and Jen, the Midnight DBAs, have decided to blatantly copy me.
Un-SQL Friday is like T-SQL Tuesday, only it's not about SQL topics, it's not going to happen on a regular basis, it's not a revolving event, and it's not organized by me. So in short, they've created a chaotic, disorganized, and thoroughly downmarket twist on what I've done. How cool is that?
A Weather-Related Adage
The topic for this first event is branding, a theme near and dear to me. I've worked hard to build my personal brand and I like to think that I've done well. My basic methodology is quite simple: Don't be a port in the storm. Be the storm.
You Are Here.
What does branding mean to me? It means that you're reading my blog because you're interested in what I have to say. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of highly-skilled, top-level
SQL Server professionals whose names you don't know. Some of them even have blogs. So why do you know my name and not theirs?
Let's take it from the other direction. Are you a highly-skilled, top-level SQL Server professional? Do I know your name? If not, consider your career. You're probably a fantastic problem solver. You're probably the go-to guy on your project. And you're probably in a comfortable, secure place in your career. Your co-workers love you and your manager wouldn't hesitate to give you a glowing reference. But here's the kicker: Doing all of that great work and failing to broadcast your successes to the world at large in an effective manner is getting you nowhere, from a branding point of view.
Branding is about getting noticed. This means making noise, taking risks, and stepping as far as possible outside of your comfort zone--on a very regular basis. It also means doing something to differentiate your brand from all of the others. This is not easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding if you're willing to make the leap of faith.
Why Me? And Why You?
The bigger question is whether you actually want or need to take the the plunge. In the prior section I used the word "comfortable" and that was no accident. Being comfortable is, generally speaking, a Good Thing. People like being comfortable, and maybe you like it too. Maybe you enjoy your job, your company, your home, your place in the world. Maybe you don't want to branch out. And that's perfectly fine in my book. Everyone's goals are different, and despite what some bloggers have said on this topic, I do not believe that everyone should bother putting in the work required to get their name on the radar. For many people the reward is simply not worth the investment.
Personally, I wanted to become a consultant. Consulting is a profession very well suited to people with strong brands. A strong brand opens doors and brings in business. So I started blogging. But merely blogging is not enough.
Again, you must differentiate yourself! A brand without something that makes it different from all of the other brands is just another generic product. How did I approach this problem? I tried to show personality in my posts, beyond the technical content; to reveal something about who I am and how I think. My goal was that after reading my blog, you would know exactly what you would get if I were to walk into your office to do some work. I've hidden nothing. My brand is me, and I am my brand.
Risk and Reward
For most people, sticking your head out is not a natural inclination. Putting material out for the world to look at (and criticize) can be painful and difficult. Showing the world your personality, including both its upsides and downsides, is a frightening proposition. But the upside is extreme. I'm happy to report that so far it's been a great ride.