April 20, 2023

Convergence, UX Designers, and the Power of Personal Branding

Our speaker series concludes with an action-focused talk on personal branding with Brand Strategist Ramond Walker. We wanted to end our speaker series with this event as Black Digital Humanities, whether situated in or outside the academy, often requires an ability to effectively pitch to hesitant stakeholders. We need to understand how to properly brand ourselves to get access to resources and opportunities that let us engage in the work we want to do. As an emerging and interdisciplinary field, there is a need for Black Digital Humanists to be creative and know how to talk in the right way to the right people to get the resources we need.

One of the most important things you need to do is understand how to leverage your influence. Ramond's personal journey started because he noticed there was an increasing need for strategy - while design is important, the strategy behind that design is equally as significant. Leveraging your personal branding allows you to move across career fields and not be confined to your specific experiences.

Ramond highlights that your personal brand is always what gets looked at before even your resume - it is about leveraging your mission, values, reputation, and expertise. The first step to developing your personal brand is to develop your career mission - Why did you choose your industry or career? What problem do you want to solve? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?

Once you answer these questions, you can begin crafting your career mission. This statement should highlight what you do, rather than who you are. What do you want people to know about you? A career mission statement allows you to re-pitch who you are and what you hope to accomplish.

Next, you have to identify your hard and soft skills. Your soft skills are important - while your resume, job experiences, etc. make your hard skills clear, you need to know how to effectively convey your soft skills. Identify your core values - what are things that you bring to the table? HR professionals look for values like dependability, integrity, and teamwork.

Ramond shares tips on how you can find your values. Reflect on what your friends and family think about you, what guides you and your decisions, and what you hope to eventually achieve. Once you developed your core values, you can begin to build your reputation - one way of doing so is creating a portfolio that represents your core values and behaviours. Your reputation is developed through your LinkedIn, Website, Network, and Thought Leadership. Your website should include: a value proposition/mission statement, your approach + design process, case studies, testimonials, and a call to action.

Ramond's Tips for Success

  • Buy your name URL if possible (name.com) - it's important that potential employers can quickly find you through Google.
  • Lacking in case studies? One of the easy ways you can find an actual project to work on is looking at what local businesses would really benefit from a design project, reaching out, and offering your support.
  • Networking may seem scary... but there's loads of ways to do so. For example: the Where Are The Black Designers Slack where Ramond found out about this very opportunity! Networking can also come in the form of going to networking events, getting involved in speaking engagements, or just messaging someone on LinkedIn to chat!
  • Ramond's tip for first generation university students - networking is incredibly important! Meeting the right person can make a big difference in what opportunities become available to you.
  • Also: don't confine yourself to what you are taught in the university itself. There's so many opportunities now to learn outside the classroom, so take advantage of that!
  • Repetition creates success. The more you do things, the better you get at doing things - so keep working on things whenever you can!
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