“Why on earth would I need to develop a personal brand?”

Yes, it sounds strange – stay with us.

Developing a strong professional brand isn’t something only celebrities do.

Here’s the thing though: every industry has its celebrities.

Sure, you may never become THE data scientist with a cult following on Twitter or LinkedIn – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even give it a shot.

In a professional context, creating a solid online presence individuality is absolutely crucial for networking in a competitive industry such as data science.

Here’s why putting substantial effort into your personal brand is so important and how to make it happen.

Why Does Every Data Scientist Need a Personal Brand?

Data science skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. According to a recent report from LinkedIn, it’s one of the fastest growing industries. Between 2012 and 2018, data scientist roles grew a whopping 650%.

It makes sense. It’s a dynamic and interesting industry with an average annual salary of over €60,000 in Ireland.

This sounds exciting until you realise you’ll now have to compete for jobs with fresh young talent and experienced candidates with backgrounds in similar fields – even with the cavernous talent gap. Yikes.

5 Tips for Developing a Strong Professional Brand and Your Online Presence Individuality

Job interviews and industry events fly by fast. In such a competitive industry, you want potential employers, key people of interest, and others in the field to know as much about you as possible.

That’s why you need a strong professional brand that serves the role of a highly detailed business card. Let people know about your detailed skills and maybe show off your personality a little bit too (just make sure to keep it appropriate for a professional context).

1.    Take or Teach a Course

The data science industry changes almost constantly. Not only are online courses an excellent way to stay up to date, but they’re also a great networking tool.

Udemy has almost 2,000 super affordable courses you can take any time. See a talent gap somewhere on the platform? That’s your signal to mark your spot. Don’t forget to list the courses on your LinkedIn profile.

2.    Build Your LinkedIn Profile and Showcase Your Personality

Did you know that recent graduates with 500+ connections on LinkedIn are able to develop their personal brand much more effectively than those without a profile? Why? Well, it’s pretty simple really. They have distribution for their blogs, status updates and news in a professional setting that allows them to reach a broad pool of people. Setting up and managing a LinkedIn profile isn’t a hugely time-consuming task, but the longterm rewards of having an active profile can help set you apart from your industry peers.

A great personal brand is built on the foundations of showcasing both your personality and expertise. If you lean too much into only showing your expertise, you may appear knowledgeable, but potential colleagues and industry peers may not want to work with you.

3.    Devote Time to Pet Projects

Don’t underestimate the potential of pet projects. The great thing about projects is that you can adapt them to your skill level. This is your opportunity to show off your personality a bit while you build a strong professional brand.

Not only does a pet project look good on a resume, but it also has potential to go viral. What’s better than international recognition for building your personal brand? Hey, your pet projects might even end up winning an award.

4.    Host Data-driven Professional Conferences

Unless you live in a data scientist hub like Ireland, the chances are there’s no relevant association or club in your area. Yes, it takes quite a lot of effort – both in the short term and long term – but you really can’t beat data science clubs for the exposure for building your personal brand.

Data-driven professional conferences are the ultimate tool for connecting with associates who only know your online presence individuality or vice versa. No one’s saying you have to compete with Strata, KDD, or NIPS (although you should definitely try), but you’ve got to start somewhere. Give it a shot.

You should also check out Meetups for data scientist groups in your area. Here are some of our favourite meetups based in Dublin that we think you should check out this year:

5.    Don’t be Afraid of Public Speaking

Aha, you knew this was coming didn’t you? It’s okay – you don’t need to dive in head first. Would you feel more comfortable with public speaking if it was on the radio? A podcast? Video livestream?

You don’t need to step in front of a huge crowd anymore to master the art of public speaking. As you start to build your online presence individuality and strong professional brand, keep an eye out for podcast hosts or media influencers. Check out the top 10 data science podcasts of 2018.

Once you start building an online rapport and audience, there’s a fair chance random people will start asking you to come on their show to hear what you have to say on certain topics.

It’s Time to Take Your Personal Brand and Online Presence Individuality Seriously

Data science is already difficult enough to break into without the right connections from networking as it is. Why make it harder on yourself by blowing off your personal brand?