Presentation by Emmanuel Delpierre, Chairman of the DOUG Advisory Board

I’m assuming you all are Oracle professionals. But how many of you are Oracle users?  Even if we are not Database Administrators (DBAs) or Developers, most of us use Oracle technology and applications at work, home or on the road! The e-commerce site that we visit may use Oracle to process our orders.  The airline that we fly on may use Oracle to handle its reservations and communicate to other corporate systems.  The simple fact is that all of us are Oracle users in one way or another.  

There are ten million Oracle developers on OTN and an estimated two million Oracle DBAs around the globe.  There are 3,000 registered Oracle Technology users within a 100 mile radius of DFW.  And those are primarily technical users.  We’re not talking about the functional users yet.  In a field of a million roses, how do you keep yourself marketable? How can a potential employer pick you in the sea of available candidates?  How can you stand out from all the other roses as the only rose that is yellow?

The short answer is “Personal Brand Recognition”.

In this article we are going to address how to:

  • Create your own personal brand
  • Harness your strengths
  • Pick your communication medium
  • Build rapport with anyone


I- Create Your Own Personal Brand

Look at this picture of a bar of soap.  


How many of you knew the brand name of the soap simply by its shape and color?  Through branding, marketing and advertising, we identify a product as more than just a bar of soap.  Hearing that something is ‘Ivory clean’, makes you think of something clean and 99.4% pure.  Then, there’s Dove with its distinctive dove emblem on each beauty bar.  And Irish Spring’s green soap calls to mind rolling green meadows and whistling leprechauns.


In developing our brand, we can look at some of the ways famous people are branded:
The Sage of Omaha = Warren Buffet
The King of Pop = Michael Jackson
 
As well as, some other ways IT professionals brand themselves:

  • Database Doctor
  • Oracle guru
  • PL SQL Magician
  • Maverick
  • Performance Tuning Fairy
  • Bug Detective
  • Geek on Wheels

 
Ask yourself, “What would I be if I were a car,” or “Who would I be if I were an entertainer?”  Through these visual exercises, you can begin to think of what you want your personal brand to look like.  
 
When was the last time you bought a box that simply said SOAP?  What impression do you get from products that are generic?  Even if you are unaware of it, you are already being branded by other people.  Do you know what impression you are leaving with them?  It’s very important to get feedback from your network.  Ask your friends and co-workers the same questions that you asked yourself and see if their answers match your own.  If the feedback does not match how you perceive yourself, it might be time to reassess both your strengths and your values.  
 
One of the most successful marketing firm in the world is Proctor & Gamble.  They basically sell soap but how do they brand their own corporate entity?  Look carefully at their mission statement and see what applies to you.
 

“Three billion times a day, P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world. Our corporate tradition is rooted in the principles of personal integrity, respect for the individual, and doing what’s right for the long-term.”

 

That’s a powerful mission statement.  How many of you have a personal mission statement of your own?  Personal branding is not a way to create a veneer and be dishonest.  It is a way of assessing your personal strengths and let others know about it”¦ In a nutshell, marketing yourself as a brand.  

 
Start by asking, “What is most important to me in my professional life?”  Your reputation, breadth of knowledge, or network of colleagues might be some good answers to start with.  Then, figure out what values are associated with that and prioritize them.  Some people can be very focused because they are devoted solely to their career.  However, most of us have to juggle different roles.  The job is important, but there is also a family, a network of friends, an active social life, a desire to pursue hobbies or worthwhile causes…  It’s important to prioritize your values and goals.

Lastly, how do I know when I have met this personal value?  Money might be one way but there are other ways of determining value. Maybe it is the way you feel when your boss or colleague acknowledges your good work. Maybe it is the “sweet smell of success” or the urge to scream your joy when you know you have improved on your own record”¦

When I started with DOUG, my personal goal was to be known as your  “Oracle guy in Dallas”.  That was how I wanted to brand myself.  However, it was very difficult when I started back in 2001 because half of the technical presentations would go right over my head!  I kept coming back and understood more and more with each visit.  For the brand to truly take hold, you have to do it over and over again until you walk the talk. Eventually, things will change drastically, but you have to go deep into who you are so you can communicate those values.  And overtime, the brand evolved to your “Oracle trusted advisor”. This shift was revealed to me when local IT executives were willing to join an advisory board in support of DOUG. Their interest was picked when they could exchange ideas and advice amongst peers.

Now, my current goal is to grow DOUG from 550 members to 800 members before the end of the year. As my friend, Tony Reed would say, to succeed a goal has to be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely


II-Harness Your Strengths

1- Personal Strength (Core values)

  • Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective
  • Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality
  • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  • Justice: loyalty, fairness, leadership
  • Temperance: Forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self-control
  • Transcendence: Appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humor, faith
  • Others?

A good listing of personal strengths grouped by virtues is available at: http://www.meaningandhappiness.com/psychology-research/list-of-personal-strengths.html

 

2 – Professional Strengths

  • Technical expertise
  • Management expertise
  • Business – IT interface expertise
  • Others?


These categories are not comprehensive”…But an indicator, a direction to help you define your own strengths.  Combine your professional strengths to your personal strengths (core values).  And then use your strongest Communication Style!

 

III- Pick Your Communication Medium

There are essentially three communication mediums and you can find thousands of books to cover these broad topics.  Following are some ideas you can implement quickly and easily:
 
– Networking: Expand your personal network from 20 peers to 50 peers.  Just keep adding to your address book even if it’s just adding one name per week.  Send a “nice to meet you” e-mail when you get back home and offer them assistance based on your expertise.  In order to succeed, you have to be willing to fail.  They might not remember the particulars but they’ll associate with your brand (one aspect being thoughtful and thorough).  

– Writing: Write an article, pick a controversial idea, and add practical advice.  You don’t have to be an expert on something to write.  Just build an article around something that you have researched and start putting yourself out as an expert.
 
– Speaking: A well-publicized poll stated that public speaking is the number one fear, even before the fear of dying!  Toastmasters is a great place to change that and practice public speaking in a supportive environment.  Local user groups such as DOUG are also a great place to start small and build on your success.

 

Step #1 Master your Medium of Choice


– Blogs, Forums, E-Mails, and Wikis.  Who loves to write blogs or participate in forums?  Don’t be afraid of writing if it is comfortable for you!  Write in national magazines, OAUG, IOUG etc.  Author something on Wikipedia.

– People person, sports fans, group activities, professional associations.  These all provide great outlets for you to practice your networking skills
–  Boisterous, big mouths welcome.  Non-Profit Organizations love to have people who can passionately promote them to the outside world.
– Speak.  Use your expertise or promote an organization or cause.  Energetic individuals can benefit many organizations in different capacities.  


Step #2 Get involved

Whether it is a local, regional, or national group.  The most important thing is to just get involved.  Now that you’ve developed your brand, you’ll need a place to test it and refine it.  Being associated with a professional organization helps with your brand.
 
It’s up to you to decide how to have that organization support your brand.  For example: by joining DOUG, you are associating with other users who have a technical understanding of Oracle.  Plus, they are a very forgiving group of people if you choose to do a presentation.  If you aren’t ready to do that, you could also:
–  Write a newsletter article
–  Do a book review
–  Introduce the speakers at a DOUG meeting
–  Network with other employers and colleagues
–  Organize parties
–  Enhance the DOUG website

 

IV- How to Build Rapport


Rapport is the ability to instantly connect to an individual, enter someone else”™s world.  Rapport implies that your have something in common, they like you and that you have established a relationship.  You already have the skill to create rapport through matching and mirroring.


It’s easy to build rapport talking about favorite vacation spots.  In the conversation, you’re looking for commonalities and adopting similar postures.  If you just watch people, you’ll notice that their bodies not only create the rapport, but maintain it after the conversation is over.  Even though they are not talking any more, they are still at ease with each other.

The easiest way to break rapport is to break body posture and look away.

When you get excited, people ask for more.  In an interview, notice the interviewer’s breathing and try to match their breathing and posture.  Through Pacing and Leading, you can guide the conversation and they will follow you wherever you go.

How many have worked with super users or managers who are not that technical and come at you very aggressively? Match their intensity and watch how they respond.

So, in conclusion, we have laid out a five step plan to keeping yourself marketable through brand recognition.  The steps are:
–  Understand your brand key elements
–  Define your strengths and values.  Get impressions from other people
–  Pick your medium  (Writing, networking, or speaking)
–  Get involved and refine your brand
–  Develop rapport with anyone through matching and mirroring

Go do something.  And KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

 

Bibliography

John Lucht “Rites of Passage at $100K +”
Malcolm Gladwell “The Tipping Point”, “Blink”, “Outliers”
Robert Cialdini “Influence”
Kate Wendleton, “Targeting the job you want”
Blogs: Google “Personal Branding”
 


Emmanuel has been active with DOUG since 2001, becoming president in 2002 through 2004, and currently is both Chairman of the DOUG Advisory Board (2005-2009) and Membership Chair.  You can reach him at edelpierre@yahoo.com