This article was written by Ben Taylor and originally appeared on the DataRobot Blog here: https://www.datarobot.com/blog/build-your-personal-brand-in-data-science/
On June 16 and 17, 2020, DataRobot hosted AI Experience Worldwide, our first-ever virtual conference, which brought together customers, partners, and AI visionaries to discuss how we all can accelerate the time-to-impact of AI solutions across the enterprise. Recognizing the obstacles presented by the uncertain times we live in today, the DataRobot team designed the conference agenda to address pragmatic solutions to the most pressing challenges data scientists, developers, business analysts, and executives are facing right now.
Several sessions throughout the conference focused on ways that attendees can advance their career trajectories and upskill personally and professionally, one of which is building a personal brand within the data science community. We decided to turn to the experts—namely, a panel of five social influencers who have a combined 380,000 LinkedIn followers.
1. Kate Strachnyi, Founder of Story by Data and DATAcated Academy, instructor at iData Quality Academy, advisory board member for the Initiative for Analytics and Data Science Standards and the International Association for Data Quality, Governance, and Analytics. Kate is also an author, data visualization specialist, and was named as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Data Science & Analytics in 2018 and 2019.
2. Favio Vazquez, Founder and CEO of Closter, Founder of Ciencia y Datos, and Editor for the International Journal of Business Analytics and Intelligence. Favio has held a wide range of data science positions within many industries and has taught data science at Tecnológico de Monterrey and Emeritus Institute of Management. He was named as one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Data Science & Analytics in 2018.
3. Kristen Kehrer, Founder of Data Moves Me and Data Science Instructor at UC Berkeley Extension. Kristen previously held data science and analytics positions with Vistaprint and Constant Contact. Since 2010, she has been delivering innovative and actionable machine learning solutions across multiple industries. She was named as one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Data Science & Analytics in 2018.
4. Eric Weber, currently leading Data Science & Insights at ListReports, previously worked in data science at LinkedIn and CoreLogic. Eric has also taught at the University of Minnesota and Oregon State University, and holds postgraduate degrees from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, Arizona State University.
5. Panel Moderator: Kirill Eremenko, Founder of BlueLife AI, SuperDataScience, and DataScienceGO. He’s also host of The SuperDataScience Podcast and has spent more than 12 years working in data science and consulting.
There was a lot of online buzz before the event started based on the makeup of this panel. The discussion was rich with insights for seasoned social media users and novices alike. Across the board, the panelists agreed on five key steps to building and growing a social following.
1. Be authentic.
The most resounding sentiment across the panel was the need for authenticity. A personal brand is just that—personal. Show your audience that you are a real person looking for engagement and conversation. Sharing your opinions, engaging with your followers in a genuine way, and staying true to what you’re passionate about will take you further than any “growth hacking” ever could.
“One thing that helped me early on, and continues to help me is: ‘Be yourself—be your authentic self.’” – Kate
2. Treat building your brand internally within your organization as you do externally.
Those who strive to become known within the data community often forget about an incredibly important resource: the people they already know. Funnel energy into building your credibility within your organization. When people you work with start coming to you with questions and ideas, you begin to position yourself as a thought leader. Plus, those conversations often translate into great content for social media.
“Generally speaking, people want practical advice about how to use data. There’s a lot of hype, there’s a lot of sensationalism around it, and generally people want to understand ‘How do I deliver value?’…In the process, you start to build your own brand as someone who can create conversations.” – Eric
3. Foster relationships.
Ironically, social media can be a really isolating place. To combat this, proactively build relationships with your followers and your peers. The worst thing you can do is view social media as a one-way street. Be open to the conversations and opportunities that arise organically and focus on building community using your platform. You never know who you might impact online. I had coffee with a follower once in Chicago who said my LinkedIn post last year made him quit his job! Fortunately, he went on to say it was a great decision.
“My first post had one like from a friend…Three years later, I have almost 100,000 followers. We all started from nowhere.” – Favio
4. Lean into imposter syndrome.
It’s easy to overanalyze your posts in the beginning, but chasing the perfect post won’t get you very far. The important thing to remember is that every influencer, every expert started somewhere. Use imposter syndrome to your advantage by paying attention to what your audience is and isn’t interested in, but don’t sweat it when a post doesn’t get many likes. Even seasoned influencers online still have doubts and insecurities with some of their posts, but they post them anyway. Sometimes I get the most value out of the comments from a post where the community disagrees with one of my opinions.
“You don’t really need to be an expert in something to start a conversation or to get other people talking.” – Kate
5. Don’t force it.
Some days, inspiration doesn’t strike, and that’s okay. The panelists unanimously agreed that posting for the sake of posting, even when you have nothing of value to say, is not the answer. Starting conversations with your peers, reading articles, and dedicating a certain time of the day to drafting can all help get your creative juices flowing. I love working at DataRobot because I interact with a lot of sharp people, and those interactions and conversations can help inspire me to post something during the day. Sometimes we overthink posting and think we have to spend hours writing a long article. Some of my most successful posts have been written in less than 60 seconds.
“When I don’t feel called to share, I don’t force it. If I have a million ideas at once, I’ll put them on a scheduler.” – Kristen
There’s ample room for data science voices on social media, and building a personal brand can help you grow your career, launch your own entrepreneurial endeavors, and connect with other players within the industry. These highlights are just a sampling of the insights our panel shared during the hour-long discussion. Watch the full conversation and get access to recordings of all of our AI Experience Worldwide sessions for free at aiworldwide.datarobot.com.
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