I had been working as a civil engineer for over a decade, then I changed careers, from engineering to children’s education. I started my own business, Coding Kids, teaching children to code.
In 3 years I have:
Built an award-winning business, operating globally
Won awards including:
Advance Queensland’s Community Digital Champion 2016, 2017, 2018
40 Under 40: Brisbane's Top Young Entrepreneurs 2016, 2017
What's On 4 Kids Award 2017
Queensland Pearcey Entrepreneur Award Hall Of Fame 2018
Queensland Pearcey Award 2017
ARN Women In ICT Awards 2017 Nominee
Smartcompany's International Women's Day Showcase 2018 Nominee
Queensland Women In Leadership Awards 2018
Interviewed in the media: ABC radio, SBS radio, Courier-Mail, and various Australian newspapers
Received various government grants
Received a number of sole tender contracts
Appointed to the (Queensland) Premier’s Anti-Cyberbullying Advisory Committee
I made a complete pivot with my personal branding. From a civil engineer to an award-winning business owner in the STEM education space.
Everyone has a personal brand, whether you know it or not. Your brand is how the world sees you, from online or offline sources.
Your offline brand or reputation includes what other people say about you, colleagues, ex-colleagues, bosses, direct reports, clients, sub-contractors. Your reputation is critical within the networks of your network ie your two degrees of separation.
Your online brand is more important for those who do not know your network and are conducting online research about you. What do they see? Is it an intentionally crafted, curated branded picture of you.
Personal branding is a discipline of marketing. So why should engineers, planners, scientists and other professionals care about that? Because treating your professional career as a mini-business means taking ownership of your career trajectory and creating an environment that encourages opportunities. Whether you are choosing to further your career along the same corporate ladder, to take a side step and develop your career in a different direction, or start a business in a completely different field.
Investing your time and effort into your personal branding may be key if you are facing these these situations in your career:
Rebranding yourself to transition from one profession into starting a business in a different field. E.g. I left my career in civil engineering to pursue a business as a children’s activity provider.
Looking to level up your professional profile / personal brand for the first time. Whether you are a civil engineer, environmental planner, or scientist. Perhaps you are a graduate-level professional looking to level-up.
Do you regularly meet people, in a professional setting, who may then proceed to research about you online? When you meet people professionally and they Google you, what will they see? Someone else with your name, or worse yet, you but not in a professional context. Let them see a carefully crafted professional image of you.
Be easily found, for the right reasons.
Determine which social media platforms suit what you do. Considering your brand and your industry, make sense of what is relevant and valuable. What are all the options? Why would you use it?
Each social media account is a digital asset that you need to manage and nurture. It is better to be consistent, timely, and regular with quality posts than to have too many accounts and struggle to maintain commitment. Your social accounts need to look alive and taken care of. You don’t want people to turn up to your social media profile and see tumbleweeds in a ghost town. Quality posts take time to create and curate. Plus you need to respond to all comments and inbox messages in a timely manner.
Facebook and Twitter have proven to be effective platforms for me. My Facebook business page has been great for engaging potential customers. My Twitter account has given me radio opportunities on ABC radio. ABC journalists often use Twitter to identify influencers who can contribute to their news story. Twitter also gave me the opportunity to join Steve Baxter (Channel 10’s Shark Tank), as the 2018 Chief Entrepreneur Queensland, on a regional tour to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay and join Leeane Kemp, as the 2019 Chief Entrepreneur Queensland, on a regional tour to Chinchilla.
Awards are useful indicators. As a result of being awarded Advance Queensland’s Community Digital Champion, I was appointed on to the Queensland Premier’s Anti-cyberbullying Advisory Committee.
Most awards are free to enter or be nominated. There are some awards with cheaper fees which may be donated to charity, e.g. approximately $30. But I’ve seen other awards which cost about US$2000. In any situation that costs money, calculate the RoI (return on investment).
I’ve personally not had to resort to nominating myself for awards that cost $2000 to enter. In fact, I’ve paid a total of $0 on award entry fees. I’m also dubious of awards that I know cost 1000s of dollars to enter.
Networking is valuable. Get to know the people in your communities. You never know who you might find.
I met a lady at my gym who was a journalist with the Courier-Mail. She was a very useful contact to have and I managed to get into one of her news stories.
I rent space at Fishburners, a co-working office space. From this community I have gotten into the the Courier-Mail for various new stories and interviewed on ABC radio.
One of my employees is friends with an SBS radio host. I was able to get invited for a radio interview for a feature story.
I have also received various sole sourced contracts from being known in the STEM education space.
Take charge of your personal branding, whether you are progressing or pivoting your career. Let yourself be easily found by media, industry, government and customers, and for the right reasons.