Companies like Apple are masters of brand presence – simply hearing their name or seeing their logo is enough to remind you of what their business represents. And, whilst you may not be aware of it, you too have a personal brand – a way that you appear to the rest of the world as a result of the digital footprint you’ve created over the years (note to self: edit Facebook privacy settings). Strategically developing this personal brand is incredibly useful and can open doors to many professional opportunities.
Now, you may be staring at the screen and asking ‘I’m only a university student, why do I need to have a personal brand?’ Well, university is the place where you start building professional networks, participating in interesting activities and acquiring a whole new set of skills – all of which are important to incorporate into your personal brand and put you on the fast track to a successful career. And if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe Jeff Lovejoy, UK recruitment manager at FDM group, who says “One of the main skills I see lacking in graduates and even 2nd year students coming in for internships, is a lack of a personal brand… personal branding needs to start from 1st year of university”.
Hopefully by this point I’ve managed to convince you that a personal brand is important. So how do you go about creating an amazing personal brand? Here are some tips and tricks:
Decide what you want to be associated with
Whilst you may be incredibly proud of achieving the BNOC status of your college this year, your potential future employer may not share in your enthusiasm (jealous much? I think so). Think about what you want future employers to associate you with. Is there a certain topic that you are an absolute expert on? Or maybe you have a great selection of strong skills and qualities that you want linked with your name? Deciding how you want to be perceived is the first step to building your personal brand.
Let’s be honest, you probably already have.
Now do it again. Are you happy with what comes up? Would a potential employer be happy with what comes up? If the answer is no, think about different ways that you can ensure that future search results align with qualities you want associated with your name, such as writing for a student newspaper on a topic that mirrors your brand. The most popular pages overall end up higher in the Google feed, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, so make sure to be on top of those and choose your new outlets wisely.
Apple, Google and Coca Cola can do it – and so can you!
Consider creating a personal website or a blog that includes a brief bio, links to your social platforms and a copy of your CV. If you are considering jobs in media or the creative sector, you can even begin creating a portfolio of your work.
Be purposeful in what you share
Every tweet, status update and shared picture contributes to your personal brand. Once you have decided how you want your brand to be perceived, you can begin to work strategically on your personal brand through social media. Are you interested in a career in advertising? Then engage in industry related content – share, comment and post things about your favourite adverts and companies.
Connect with other strong brands
Who you associate with is also important for your personal brand. Think about joining societies that align with the qualities of your personal brand and find ways to actively contribute to them.
Take advantage of every single networking opportunity that you get. Introduce yourself to speakers at events and employers at career fairs. Showcasing your strong personal brand to potential employers can help ensure that you are the one they call in for an interview.
Remember to never get complacent with the brand you create. It is important to continuously evaluate your brand and make any necessary changes to ensure that your personal brand is still accurate and relevant.