Building Your Personal Brand as an Expert

As I have said in a previous post on this blog, being successful and being good at your job are two different things. Some have said via comments and Twitter, that this is sad but true. However, I disagree. This is simply a fact, and it is up to everyone to just recognize that there is a difference and learn how to best take advantage of this and become good at your job and AND successful at the same time! Since I work in e-commerce and Web analytics specifically. I’d like to start an open discussion on how to be both. First there’s being good at your job.

In terms of Web analytics, being good at your job should at least include knowledge of the following:

  • Segmenting your visitors, including knowing which are the best segments and how to find new ones
  • A/B &multivariate testing and site optimization
  • Understanding, in the most advanced way, how to implement your Web analytics solution (not just how to run reports)
  • How to debug analytics implementations (WASP and Charles are great tools)
  • Creating reports and dashboards that are of actionable use
  • Understanding the difference between reporting and analysis and when each is appropriate
  • Understanding how to track what is actionable as opposed to everything in the world
  • Being able to setup a good system of dashboards and reporting so that you can spend energy on real analyses, as opposed to just reporting

Now, let’s say that you’ve nailed everything above and you are the master of analyses, testing and your analytics tool of choice. So how can you become successful as a Web analyst. First, let’s limit our definition of success to staying in Web analytics and becoming well known and respected within the field. The end goal being better job prospects and advancement opportunities at your current job. Here are some of the things that you can do:

  • PRESENT to management, don’t just e-mail analyses
  • Work regularly on presentation skills (Presentation Zen is a great resource with links to other resources)
  • You should WOW management at least every other week. As a Web analyst, you’re probably sitting on a gold mine of info of which management is completely unaware. Make sure to show them things on a regular basis that gets you (not an email) in front of them and noticed!
  • Get on the Yahoo! Web Analytics Board and start interacting with people
  • Get on the Twitter and start interacting with Web analytics professionals
  • Attend relevant conferences and industry events (at least 1 or two per year, and mingle/network)
  • You can also think about starting your blog (again, anything to get your name out there as an expert). I’m thinking of switching to a video format to get myself out on the Internet even a little more.

In the end one of the keys to being successful is building responsible for you own personal brand and how it is perceived within your job as well as within the industry. In short, you need to get out there and make yourself known as an expert. To wrap things up, here’s a great video from Gary Vaynerchuck (host of Wine Library TV) on developing your personal brand, whatever the focus:

Do you have any career or Web analytics success tips that you can share?

How does analysis become reporting?!

I’m not sure of others’ experiences, but ts has seemed to me that most of the time I provide a very insightful analysis to management and they are very pleased, the inevitable followup on their part is, “can we start getting this every week?” So while Web analysts want to provide analysis as opposed to becoming report monkeys, are we just creating more work for ourselves with our great analyses? More importantly, how do we get management to stop turning every analysis into a “regular report?” I think that the answer here is 3 fold:

  1. Learn how to set management expectations
  2. Have alternative (or more in-depth) anlayses planned at all times
  3. Assert your expertise

I think that if you do all of the above with an already existing base of established reporting, you can have success as a true analyst and not a report monkey. First though, how do you set clear expectations to management?

Email is all about setting expectations

One of the most important parts of a successful e-mail marketing campaign is setting the expectation of how often the recipient can expect to be emailed and what they will be e-mailed. The same goes for analyses of Web data. First, inform management of the analysis that you will be performing. This can enable them to ask some questions up front so that “feature creep” doesn’t occur later in the analysis (or worse yet, afterwards). Also, you’ll want to make management aware that reporting on this information on a regular basis and simply trending it isn’t the end/best result. Inform them that you will be delivering actionable insights after which it is their responsibility to act (unless the necessary resources are within your sphere of influence should you be so lucky).

Alternatives and the next big thing

One of the best ways to convince management to not make an analysis a regular report is to have the next few things lined up and planned out. This way, you can then tell them what was planned next and that regularly reporting on what you just delivered will decrease the number of analyses that you can deliver that are actionable.

You Are an Expert in Web Analytics & Analysis

If you weren’t, you’ve done a good job in fooling people that are signing your paycheck. We all know that convincing the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) that you know more than them will usually fail. This is where it is your responsibility over time to build your own personal brand as an expert. This isn’t going to happen over night. You’ll have to prove yourself. My recommendation here is to plan EVERY week what you are going to deliver to management to wow them. If this means slowly delivering great things then so be it. Trust me the result is worth it. One of the most important things that I learned in grad school is the following, and it was sort of a career epiphany:

  • Being good at your job and being successful are two TOTALLY different things.

These are just a few of the things that I try to keep in mind so that analyses don’t turn into boring reports that eventually and inevitably get ignored.

How do you ensure that your big ideas and analyses don’t get ignored? This also reminds me, if you haven’t read it, you should also check out the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die…” You can get the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287