With graduation just around the corner, some students will be facing one of the most exciting (and challenging) chapters of their life, the chapter also known as the “real world”. As they leave behind the memories of those coffee induced late night study sessions and post-exam drinking celebrations, a new world will be opened up in front of them, where one’s ability to score a promising job opportunity is not determined by that freshly stamped school certificate or the amount of A’s on a transcript, but by number of times their name appears on the first pages of a Google search.
If you are going to rise above the noise in today’s market, you are going to have to start building your personal brand early. To help you get started, I have outlined 6 principles of personal branding that will surely put you in the path to building a strong personal brand.
Find your voice.
Before you can establish or develop your expertise, you have to decide what you want to be known for. The world of personal branding is flooded with competing entrepreneurs, so it isn’t enough to choose a general field like “marketing” or “human resources.” Instead, it’s best to develop yourself in a very specific niche. With a niche focus, you’ll have more opportunities to prove you know what you’re talking about, and while your potential audience might be slightly smaller, it will also be that much more relevant. Specificity is a trade of volume for significance.
Become an Expert.
If you are going to promote yourself as an expert in your field, you better talk the talk. The market is constantly changing and if you are not keeping up with the latest trends, you will be simply left behind. One of the best ways to become an expert is to read blogs of leaders in your field or follow their social media accounts to gain any valuable insight. You may want to also attend any trade shows or seminars that focus on your industry, it is simply amazing how much you can learn by listening to other people’s ideas and experiences. There are also a lot of incredible and affordable online learning resources that you can use to continuously educate yourself such as Udemy or Coursera. As the famous saying goes “knowledge is power”, so keep powering up your brain.
Get a Website.
As online continues to take over and change the way we do business, hire people and gather information, having a website is an essential part of any personal branding strategy. A website has the potential to not only give you exposure and authority in your field, but also act as your face, business card and resume. Go ahead and Google any business, brand or authoritative figure and you will quickly find that they all have a branded website that they use to connect with their audience and promote their brand. Lucky for you, building a website has become not only affordable, but in some cases even free. Platforms such as Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or ImCreator give you the ability and flexibility to create beautifully crafted websites with a few simple clicks of a mouse without having to do any coding (if you so choose). Utilize these tools in order to give yourself a strong online presence.
Start Writing, Get Published.
Once you know your area of focus, it’s time to start building your reputation, and the best way to do that is to show off your expertise. Content marketing is the best way to build a brand and reputation online; when people look for information, they tend to go back to sources that were helpful to them. If you can become a trusted source of information through your content, over time you’ll become collectively known as the expert of your specific field. It’s best to start your own blog and update it on a regular (at least weekly) basis, but it’s also a good idea to start guest blogging on other reputable blogs.
If content is the fuel for your personal brand, social media is the engine. Take the time to flesh out the details of your social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and make sure they’re consistently in line with your personal brand standards. Post updates regularly (at least once a day for Facebook and LinkedIn, at least a few times a day for Twitter), and don’t be afraid to re-post your older content for your new followers.
Network, Network, Network.
On social media and in the real world, the key to sparking growth in your personal brand is networking. Engage with other individuals in your field, social influencers who have many connections, and anybody else who could be valuable in helping you spread the word about your expertise. Attend professional networking events to meet influencers in your area, and in the online world, engage in community discussions whenever you can. The more opportunities you have to meet people and talk, the better.
Personal branding does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of consistency, commitment and dedication, but if you use these 6 principles I promise that you will be well on your way to becoming a rock star in your field.
Written By: Alex Vorobiev, VP of Operations at NMSA.