The world you and I live in is changing fast. I remember getting my first computer when I was 12 – almost a decade and a half ago. At the time – the Internet – which HAD already been invented – was NOT something any laymen knew about. It was a governmental/educational experiment. But even then, it was clear computers were the future. 

[infobox margin_bottom="0" margin_top="0" border_radius="all" color="white" title=""] iNoobs is a series of articles for those new to web design and web development, created by Zach Katkin, founder of Promana.net, a brilliant resource for small business software news. [/infobox]

Just the ability to EDIT your words in a word processor AND THEN print a final copy was amazing. I remember messing with typewriters in my youth, and seeing adding machines. But, I’m not that old. Technically I grew up with computers, more importantly, I grew up alongside PCs.

However, today’s youth is growing up with the Internet – a completely different thing in general. And I use the word thing deliberately – computers are just another tool, where as I feel the Internet is something more – a medium, a language, a dimension – a place! – to experience life.

The point is – unlike before where we could live in splendid anonymity – that is no longer an option, both for ALL generations moving forward, and in particular web developers. So my advice to you is:

EMBRACE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Understand you will be seen online, that lovers, friends, family  - and as we’ll get to in a second, business associates and clients – WILL BE SEARCHING FOR YOU AND WHAT THEY FIND (OR DON’T FIND) IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Growing Your Personal Brand as a Web Designer

Now with the general stuff out of the way, let’s concentrate on your future career as a web designer, developer, or Internet marketer. This is what you do – or at least it’s what you say you do (or say you want to do). And so it makes sense that you need to do it right when it comes to yourself. Now I’m not saying you have to go to the ends of the earth to promote yourself on the web – I think we can both agree that constantly promoting yourself on Facebook is f@!#ing annoying!

No I’m talking about a couple key steps: 

Creating a website – not JUST one for your company, but as important and perhaps even more important, one for you as a person. That’s right pony up a few bucks and buy a domain, or get on a service where you can register a personal space. Make sure you keep it up-to-date yearly and link all of your pertinent social accounts. You don’t have to get too fancy (although if you’re a “designer” you probably should go that extra step).

Create strategic social accounts – There are certain networks out there, such as LinkedIn, where membership is not only – to some extent – required to be successful in a modern, corporate life (IE finding, getting a job, networking, and establishing legitimacy), but they are a great place to continue to get your name out there, in a positive, search perspective.

Manage your regular social accounts – If you’re not already extremely conscious of the information you’re putting out on the web – start today! I would say nothing is more important for humans that will need to work in the coming 50 years – and it’s even MORE important for us web developers to be conscious of this. Personally, I believe, and my friends, family, co-workers, and clients have come to expect – a level of intimacy, where I feel comfortable sharing many things about life, and in particular, funny things. However, even the most well-rounded of us can’t share everything with everyone (thank you Google+ and Circles!). So err on the side of caution.

Become an Expert – or Fake it Until you Make it – I was just reading on Reddit.com the other day about the Dunning-Kruger effect where:

unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.

In non-wikipedia speak basically, smart people stay quite and don’t think they’re “good enough” while less qualified people are the most outspoken.

Too often brilliant people stay in the shadows and, for whatever reason (Dunning-Kruger effect?) they stay quiet and underestimate their own abilities. Although I recommend staying humble, and always being open to criticism and willing to learn – don’t fall into this trap. Write about your passions on your blog, new CSS techniques, or go over to EzineArticles and start writing about web development today. I remember I wrote a few articles when I first got started as a web developer and then one day I received a call from a woman in New England, I answered the phone (my personal cell phone) simply “Hello this is Zach,” and she promptly gasped… “THE ZACH KATKIN!”

I was 18, had just started a business, and she was 45 with a 20 year old company – but she read the article, was impressed. This small example really showed me the power of the Internet and the power of a personal brand.

So, prepare yourself for success – in Web Design & in life – be thinking about (and managing) your personal brand.