Career Advice

Personal Branding: Skills They Don’t Teach in Engineering School
Karl Feldman posted on August 14, 2017 | 3185 views

When you first decided to become an engineer, developing a strong personal brand probably wasn’t anywhere on your to-do list. However, in today’s highly competitive world where expertise is easily showcased and sought after, personal branding has become an important pathway to success — and the engineering field is no exception.

A few years ago, Hinge conducted a research study about service professionals who had mastered personal branding and were reaping the benefits. We dubbed them “Visible Experts,” and interviewed more than 1,000 experts and their clients to figure out how their personal brand impacted their career.

We discovered that the top level of Visible Experts were able to charge higher fees — over 13 times more than an average professional, in fact. But it wasn’t just the top level of Visible Experts who were seeing the benefits of personal branding. Even a first level expert was charging more than double the baseline rate for their field.

Aside from the financial benefits of strong personal branding, establishing yourself as an expert can also lead to more media attention, better partnerships, and higher quality clients. Plus, developing your own strong engineering brand also positively affects your firm and elevates everyone else who works with you.

Of course, a strong personal brand isn’t just something you decide you want and immediately get. First, you’ll need an effective personal branding strategy built on the following six fundamental skills.


6 Fundamental Skills for Effective Engineering Branding 

Writing

In order to convince others of your engineering expertise, you need to showcase it. The ability to produce clear, engaging and easy to understand prose is essential to capturing your target audience. While there are plenty of readily available resources to help you develop your writing skills and learn to write in plain English, you can also consider working with an experienced writer or editor to create content.


Blogging

Once you figure out strong writing, you’ll need to develop a strategy for getting your work in front of your audience. Blogging is one of the quickest and most accessible ways to do so — at least until you publish an article on a top industry site or land a book deal. While blogging isn’t difficult to learn, don’t be surprised if it takes some time to master this skill or get used to your chosen platform.

SEO

You want the writing you produce to be strategic and targeted to your specific audience. Learning the fundamentals of search engine optimization can help you get in the right mindset to make your content more relevant and searchable. While there are several aspects that go into effective SEO, one of the most important is figuring out how to research relevant keywords that will attract a worthwhile search volume.  

Outreach to Blogs and Publications

One way to improve your blog’s SEO is to generate outside links to your posts through guest posting on other blogs and publications. Though finding these opportunities may seem tedious at first, try reaching out to other online engineering publications with some sample topics and see what happens. As you build your personal brand, this process will become easier and other publications will be more receptive to publishing your work. In fact, they may even start to seek you out.

Email Marketing

Sending out email broadcasts is a great way to make announcements, share publications, and drive traffic to your blog. You’ll need to subscribe to an email service provider to help with mass distribution and tracking your analytics. Depending on the service you select, you can also personalize emails, segment by target audience, and conduct automated drip campaigns.

Public Speaking

As you build your personal engineering brand, don’t be surprised if other opportunities to share your expertise come along, such as public speaking. While it may take time to build up a national reputation to speak at big conferences, starting small helps grow your speaking resume — and your personal brand. Look into local associations or offer to give a lecture to a law school or other professional class.


Bonus: The “Master Skill”

While these first six skills are all important in their own right, an effective engineering branding strategy requires one “master skill” in order to be successful: the ability to describe complex and technical challenges, issues, and topics in a way that is relatable and understandable.

As an engineer, building your visibility and expertise will mean taking complicated things and making them seem simple for your audience. Many professionals find tactics like analogies, descriptive language, and real-world examples helpful when explaining particularly intricate concepts. This skill is much easier said than done, so consider formal feedback tools such as surveys to make sure you’re hitting your mark.

By using the above skills — combined with this “master skill” — you’ll be able to connect with an audience that will help you promote your career and elevate your firm along the way. Developing a strong personal brand isn’t easy, but the benefits to both you and your firm are well worth the effort.

 


About the Author

Karl Feldman is a partner at Hinge. He guides leading architecture, engineering, and construction clients through the complexities of research, marketing strategy, brand building, and web site development. Karl regularly blogs and speaks about professional services marketing and strategy. 

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