Start Building Your Personal Brand Right Now
We hear a lot about “branding” these days. Coca-Cola, for example, is a brand that only someone living on a desert island with no phone or Internet does not know. Companies that have this marketing “thing” down well know that they have to promote brand awareness everywhere, especially on social media. This is done in very specific ways – building relationships with potential customers so that their “brand” is first in those minds when a purchasing decision is made. Brands develop “images;” they foster contacts; they promote themselves and their products. Only recently has this concept of “branding” been transported to individuals, as opposed to companies. But it is something that savvy students are beginning to embrace as a way to promote themselves within the communities they wish to join after they graduate. Here are the ways in which a person promotes his/her personal brand.
Get on LinkedIn
Setting up a LinkedIn account and profile may be challenging right now, because you don’t have a lot of experience and accomplishments to include. That’s okay. This is just the start, and you will add things as you go. But get it up there. Once you are a part of LinkedIn, you can join groups related to your field of study and establish those relationships with professionals in that career field that will spread your “personal brand.” Get involved in conversations and discussions; ask questions; find mentors. You need to start networking now.
Set Up a Personal Website
No matter what career field you are in, personal websites are for students in every one of those fields. Of course, creatives need to have portfolios of their work – art projects, web designs, etc. But, even if you are in a less creative field, you can post many things on your website – papers you have written; projects you have completed; activity in clubs and organizations (complete with photos and videos) in which you have been active. All of these things speak to your commitment to your field and/or to society in general. When it comes time to present your resume to a potential employer, you can direct that employer to your website.
Get a Blog
Either add a blog to your website or, if you do not have a website, have a stand-alone blog. It should be related to your field but can certainly encompass other topics such as college life, the organizations you belong to, etc. Again, as you begin to pursue career employment, having a blog to which you can direct employers is a big plus. They can see that you are “well-spoken,” that you have expertise and that you are able to communicate effectively. These are the “soft skills” that employers want to see in their candidates.
Use Social Media
Yes, social media is the place to connect with friends and family; and much of what you do on social media has nothing to do with your ultimate career field. But as you get into your last two years of college, you might want to re-think that a bit. You can post things that are career-related, link back to your website and/or bog posts, and just generally show potential employers (who will definitely check you presence on social media) that you are maturing and looking toward your future.
A personal brand is an important piece of getting career opportunities. When you have mentors in the field who can point you in good directions; when you have an Internet presence that speaks to your commitment and abiding interest in your career field – these things speak volumes to potential employers.