Personal branding is for everyone. It keeps you standing out from the long list of job candidates applying for the same position. And, it can absolutely make a difference.
Do you know how many jobs I was offered in university when interviewers discovered that I wrote books while receiving post-secondary education? A LOT. It caused them to pause while they thought that little fact over. It landed me a part-time job on the spot. Even though I’d like to believe my winning personality had something to do with that, the interviewer admitted that my book-writing was most impressive and they offered me a job immediately. I wasn’t even published at that point, but my passion set me apart from other students in my position because it was unique and unexpected. That’s when I realized that being an author was part of my staple.
Personal branding can make a huge difference when you’re ready to jump into the working world, and there are many steps to take before you successfully develop your own personal brand:
Think Of Yourself As A Brand
What do you want people to associate with you? Do you want to be perceived as an expert in something or affiliated with general qualities? Understand how you want people to perceive you and develop your personal brand around that by strategizing an implementation method.
What Makes You Stand Out?
Hone in on what makes you stand out in a crowded room by asking yourself, ‘what is your identifier?’ If you’re having a difficult time determining this quality, ask your friends, ‘what’s the one thing you absolutely rock at?’ Personal branding is all about strengthening your uniqueness and perfecting your skills in that area, so continue learning all you can.
Who are you and why do people enjoy your company? You’ve identified your uniqueness, now make that stick. Help others learn it by sharing your knowledge and expertise within that framework. Videos, workshops, social media, and more can offer you these outlets to showcase your passion. Present your professionalism and experience through positive exposure and own it.
Values & Priorities
Have a clear idea of what your future goals look like. This will help you identify and align your next steps in personal branding, so you are constantly moving forward. Associate with other strong brands—yes, this means your relationships with other people. Consider what school you went to, what company you aspire to be part of and the people you associate with. Submit guest posts to their blogs to deeper connect yourself with them, as long as it fits with your brand.
Craft Your Persona
Everyone has to sell themselves these days. Whether they do it with a resume, during an interview, or even on a dating app—we are constantly needing to prove that we are worth investing in. So, craft an online and in-person persona that is both professional and easy-to-talk-to. Focus on your emotional appeal and specialty:
Emotional: Based on your personality, ask yourself, “why are people attracted to your current brand?”
Specialty: Based on your experience and what you do, ask yourself, “what do I bring to the table?”
Audit What You Share
In an interview, you want to be more or less yourself, so the company has a feel of what it would be like working with you and if you would be a good fit for the company. Personal branding gears your most prominent (and positive) qualities and skills towards them, so they have a basic overview of who you are, what you stand for, and what you can do.
This applies to your online presence as well. So, make sure you don’t include anything irrelevant—remove anything that you would not consider professional or appropriate if your boss saw it. Direct your online presence to represent your personal branding, so that everything stays on brand. You want everyone to think the same message when your face and name pop up anywhere. For example, as a teen fiction author, most people view me as a creative—as someone who enjoys lots and lots of words (they’re not wrong)— but they also see me as a traveler, entrepreneur, and (hopefully) generally fun. This is the personal branding I’ve chosen to focus on through social media.
Auditing what you share with people just means that you are focusing on tidbits of what you want people to see. You don’t need to expose everything all at once.
What is your story? If you have an array of passions and are somewhat all-over-the-map, don’t fret! It just means that you require a narrative that connects everything together. You need to find a way to fit everything under the same umbrella, so to speak. A strong personal brand is constantly evolving and growing to keep up with who you are as you mature, so it can totally change as you continue living your life.
Listening Is the New Reading
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.