University of Advancing Technology is an elite, private college that serves its student body by fostering knowledge creation and academic excellence in an environment that embraces the young technophiles of the world. With three centers of research and a suite of technology-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University is a recognized leader in technology education.
The web service BrandYourself (check it out!), correctly identifies the three pillars of successfully creating a personal brand:
Thankfully, I have a background in marketing, public relations and strategic communication, so I know what I am talking about and can explain each of these pillars.
If you have come and seen me, you may have noticed that I usually begin student meetings with a simple prompt: Tell me about yourself. I meet with a lot of students, so this exercise isn’t just about trying to figure out who you are in a literal sense, but it is a way for me to see who you are in a broader sense. What do you do? What are you passionate about? What are some of your biggest accomplishments? What separates you from every other game designer who comes to see me? Your answer to this prompt is your brand.
Once you have an answer for this, you translate it online. Don’t like being online? Too bad. You need to develop your brand online. This happens through the creation and development of different social media platforms—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Portfolios, GitHub, Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, etc. Aim to have two personal accounts and two professional-facing accounts.
If you already have accounts, clean them up. Make sure the messaging—the content in your posts—is the same across every platform. While each separate social media platform has a different target audience, it should still feel like it’s coming from a similar mindset or voice. For example, if I was to post about education initiatives on LinkedIn, I should also be using Twitter to engage with others working in higher education or perusing Medium to find the perfect articles to share on Facebook.
Let your skills, abilities and accomplishments do the talking. Do you know how I am credible? I taught Business and Professional Communication at Texas Tech University. I have won awards for research in persuasion. A national organization uses my research. I know what I am talking about, so I engage with other like-minded people in an authentic and respectful way, use my insights and add to the ongoing conversation. Maybe you aren’t credible in that same way yet. Find another way to stand out. Clearly, you’re passionate about something. Look at the current landscape and find something that hasn’t been done yet.
Building your audience can be difficult. There is no right way to go about it, but there is a wrong to do it. Do not, under any circumstance, buy followers! I will hunt you down and @ you until the cows come home. In the meantime, build your followers organically by adding comments, reaching out to influencers or gatekeepers and staying active online (post multiple times a week). The best thing to do? Watch how other people actively engage with others in a thoughtful way.
Once you have built up your profiles, capitalized on your credibility and found a target audience, you can proactively look for opportunities to increase your following. This will look different for everyone, but as an example, I will share with you something I did.
I was surfing the web one day and came across Beautiful.AI, a presentation software startup. I used their product and decided to tweet at them. After a few tweets back and forth, I shared their product with others. Along the way, I made sure to engage with them on a regular basis. This then turned into an opportunity to beta test new products and services. Boom. That’s all it is. I noticed a company that had a good product, and I engaged with them on social media. I now get retweeted by them regularly (helps my brand), and I share their product with others (helps their brand). Win-win.
UAT Student Brett Butler’s experiences at Disney theme parks, resorts and cruises inspired him to join the maker movement. His dream job? “Working at Disney as an Imagineer!” The term Imagineer combines imagination and engineer. Brett definitely fits that description.
Brett likes to make stuff, which makes him a perfect fit for the Digital Maker and Fabrication (DMF) program here at UAT. Since he arrived on campus in the fall of 2017, Brett has spent hours tinkering away in the UAT Maker Lab. He loves playing with the laser cutter and Formlabs high resolution stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer.
Brett has been playing around with animatronics for years. He is currently building an animatronic elephant that can talk, blink and move its trunk. When Brett was in high school, he participated in the Technology Student Association’s animatronics national championship. His team created a fully animatronic bird that they 3D printed at school. “It had feathers, moved and completely worked,” Brett exclaimed.
Brett’s friends have been pestering him to make another awesome creation using one of the 3D printers at UAT. He accepted their challenge and 3D-printed a working ukulele! Then his girlfriend told him that she wanted a violin.
“I started off with a 3D-modeled violin that I used a photo reference for. From there, I printed it, checked it, printed, checked, and kept repeating until it worked,” Brett explained. “I’m actually going to have to reprint this once because it’s still not exactly perfect,” he added.
Brett turns to his fellow Digital Maker and Fabrication peers and his favorite professor, Joseph Horen, for inspiration and collaboration. “I think DMF is one of the coolest programs here. You can create something and have it in front of you. You can hold it. I think that’s amazing,” he said.
Students in the DMF program graduate with hands-on experience in produce design, product development, industrial design, digital fabrication, 3D modeling and embedded systems programming. Brett appreciates the project-based curriculum and capitalizes on Professor Horen’s offers to explore a topic or problem and then develop a project or solution and well, make it. “Joseph is always helping me figure out problems that I am having, and he’s helped me with some of the electronic components of the elephant,” Brett said.
Big dreams push Brett to keep creating. “UAT is a cool place where I can make just about anything.” Brett will undoubtedly continue to make cool stuff throughout his time at UAT.
Professor Natasha Vita-More gave a talk virtually to Microsoft Main Campus for the Extreme Futures Tech Festival. Great people and much fun!
The EFTF is a tech conference focused on emerging technology trends, across the tech sector. It covers the latest in emerging technology, the trends but also social impact and emerging societal changes and where we are going with technology and where it affects us and business.
In this ‘issue’ of EFTF we have topics from bio engineering, cybernetics (including a live demo of an implant procedure), artificial intelligence, cloud computing, maker trends, XR technologies (AR/VR and Wearables), IoT and many more.
Click for more information on the Extreme Futures Tech Festival: http://transhumanity.net/extreme-futures-tech-fest-fall-2015/
Professor Vita-More was also featured in an article called, The Science Surrounding Cryonics, co-authored by David W. Crippen, Robert J. Shmookler Reis, Ramon Risco, and herself, and can be found on the front page of MIT Technology Review.