One of the primary goals of college is to prepare you for your future career — and while you’re juggling coursework and campus involvement, this is also an ideal time to begin building your personal brand.
Creating a strong personal brand not only helps boost your recognition among peers and prospective colleagues, it can better position you to secure the job of your dreams. And although online tools are critical when it comes to broadening your network and increasing your visibility, don’t discount the importance of in-person opportunities.
Not sure where to get started? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Implement these steps to build your personal brand, and you’ll find yourself several steps ahead of the competition.
Make a plan. Before you dive in, take some time to make a plan. What do you want to do for a living? What skills do you have? What are your interests? Identifying these key pieces of information will help create the messaging you’ll use in various channels.
Digital destination. The Internet is a powerful tool — and by using social networks and other sites, you can quickly enhance your online visibility, as well as your network of connections. This is a prime opportunity to enhance your online profiles. Does your Facebook page reflect your personal brand? How about Twitter or Google+? Re-examine your bio or about sections to see if they accurately depict you and your aspirations. Use relevant, concise keywords to describe your skills and experience so that you’re easier to find. And tap into the power of a site like Twitter to connect with peers and industry professionals, as well as keeping an eye on job- or industry-related hashtags so you can stay up-to-date with relevant information.
Leverage LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now’s the time to create one. With 175 million-plus members and growing, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful professional networking tool. Not only can you stay up-to-date on industry happenings, but you connect with individuals and groups and browse job opportunities, too. Plus, LinkedIn profiles tend to appear higher in search results, which means a complete, optimized LinkedIn profile can be a key asset when it comes to your overall personal brand. One tip? Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete. Add a comprehensive summary that details your skills, experience, what you’re studying and what sort of career you hope to have. Add any projects or publications that speak to your skills. Link to your website, online portfolio or other relevant sites. And once your profile is complete, maintain your LinkedIn visibility by posting content, participating in group discussions and regularly updating your profile.
Network. Online visibility is important, but in-person connections can be equally valuable as you build your personal brand and prepare for your future career. Check out your college’s calendar of events to see what sort of networking events are offered. Search your chosen industry, too. Young professional organizations are great ways to meet people and make key connections that can prove invaluable in the future. If you feel comfortable, seek out speaking engagements, too. There’s nothing like giving a presentation to solidify your expertise and build your recognition.
There’s no doubt that college is a busy time. But while you’re hitting the books to prepare for your future career goals, don’t neglect the opportunity to begin building your personal brand, too. Trust us — your future self will thank you!
College students and recent grads, we’d love for you to weigh in. What are you doing (or what did you do) while in school to build your personal brand and visibility?