3 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

Each year, companies spend billions of dollars on branding. They hope to help current and potential customers better understand who they are and what they stand for. An effective brand strategy gives companies a major edge in the increasingly competitive and noisy consumer markets. But what exactly does "branding" mean? And If companies have a brand, does that mean you need one?

Simply put, your “brand” is your promise to your customer. But, as a job seeker, who is your customer? Just as companies use brands in an attempt to increase the number of customers buying their products, job seekers are trying to get more employers to hire them. Your personal brand, just like corporate brands, tells an employer what they can expect from your products and services. Your personal brand helps differentiate your skills from the competition (other job seekers). Your personal brand is derived from who you are, who you would like to be, and how people perceive you.

Personal brands should be important to everyone, especially college students. If you don’t develop your personal brand and focus on how you want to tell your professional story, you run the risk of losing control of your career development and how you are perceived by employers. Your personal brand, if developed effectively, impacts your ability to attract interest from employers, secure interview invitations, and ultimately get the job(s) you want. So, with that in mind, Next Wave has these 3 simple tips that can help you create and maintain your own personal brand:

1. Identify your Authentic Self, Including your Strengths and Weaknesses

Your personal brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are? Think about the characteristics and strengths you’ve built. If you are stuck thinking about that “thing” that everyone says you are great at, ask others. Building a personal brand is first and foremost about understanding your authentic self, and then figuring out ways to share it with the world.

2. Build and Audit your Online Presence

Love or hate it, social media profiles are an extension of personal brand. Experts estimate that about 80% of recruiters and hiring managers use social media to look for and vet potential candidates.That said, you can’t shape recruiter perceptions without first understanding the current status. We encourage Next Wave students to Google themselves and setup alerts that monitor their presence. If you have a common name, your brand could be heavily influenced by someone else's. We suggest using your middle initial or earning industry certifications in order to differentiate yourself. Cultivating a strong online brand, that is differentiated, requires real effort to monitor and tweak it

3. Associate Yourself with Strong Brands

Personal brands can be strengthened or weakened by associations to other brands. Finding ways to identify and leverage strong brands is important because recruiters often make assumptions about candidates based on their prior affiliations. As such, these decisions should not be taken lightly. Deciding which student clubs, majors, or companies you associate with is as important as selecting the college you attend. Next Wave suggests starting with clubs and organizations at your university that have industry or national importance. Next, look for non-internship corporate program opportunities that allow you to learn about companies and explore potential jobs. Selection for these programs can helps build experience and strengthen your resume, which are two of the best ways to maintain your personal brand.

Extra Tip: Pay attention to who views your profile. It might could help explain how you are being perceived in the market and provide an opportunity to connect with influential contacts outside your current network.

No matter how well you know your industry or area of interest, you must always remember that things are changing at a faster rate than ever before. It takes time to build your personal brand, but only a moment to shatter it. You have to stay up-to-date with the latest changes and trends. As you begin to sharpen your personal brand, the right opportunities should start coming your way.

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