By Carrie Garrison | Student Columnist
When you think of self-branding, think of Tom Haverford from NBC’s hit television show Parks and Recreation. In one episode, Tom and coworker Jerry are asked to help rebrand the parks department. Jerry thinks too simply and suggests to change the font of the parks and recreation logo. Tom goes a little overboard and proposes a park ranger reality television show, new uniforms and new signage. Tom’s dramatic approach is certainly wild, but he has the right idea.
Tom’s radical approach is exactly what works in the world of branding and self-branding. Making yourself known in any working industry is important. Branding yourself as special, multi-talented and irreplaceable will make you successful on the career path you desire.
Everyone has a unique attribute or special talent. Use this to your advantage. Believe it or not, education has become more accessible, and an undergraduate degree is tantamount to having a high school diploma. As a result, competition for employment is fierce and it is becoming increasingly important for job-hunters to find their brand and sell themselves. Create your mantra, and advertise it.
Think self-branding is conceited? Think again. Branding is necessary for job security. Welcome to the digital age where you’re building a public image on a social network. Don’t have an online profile? Create one online and catch up with the times. According to a New York Times article by Alina Tugend “many of us may not have the option of staying in a company, unbranded. We have to create our own job security, and branding is a part of that.”
The same article references the managing partner of Millennial Branding and founder of the blog, Personal Branding, Dan Schawbel. According to Schawbel, self-branding is as easy as four simple steps: “discover, create, communicate and maintain.”
Find your unique attributes and use them to your advantage. Find your niche and market it. Promote what you’re good at and get yourself noticed. If you are an International Relations major, joining campus organizations like International Student Organization (ISO) is a step in the right direction. This way you can have the possibility of finding your niche and discovering how you will impact the world.
Create an online profile. According to “The First Step to Building your own Personal Brand,” an article published in the New Yorker, “Personal branding is the subtext of all social networking.” Manage your online presentation and be consistent. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all feasible options for creating your online persona.
Once you have captured your online persona, you must join your personal and professional lives into one static persona that you embody everyday with consistency. If you brand yourself as having a keen eye for personal style and great hair and make-up then don’t go to your local coffee shop in sweats and a t-shirt. It’s all about presenting yourself well; you never know who you might meet.
We’ve all heard it a million times, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking is unbelievably important and social networking has made networking simple. The same NYT article also references, Veronica Fielding, president of Digital Brand Expressions, “It’s about building a community . . . you want to find groups — alumni, former employees of your last jobs, trade groups.”
For example, if you are an art student, attending gallery crawls is a great way to network and communicate with others. Meeting different artists will help you get a foot in the door. People will remember your brand and call upon you when they have a job they need to fill that meets your unique qualifications.
It’s inevitable that your future employer will google your name. Control is key and necessary when it comes to the Internet. According to the same New Yorker article, “You are what you tweet.” To manage your personal brand, you have to think twice before you post anything. Your posts must line up with your brand. If you are an education major, you must make yourself look professional online and in public. Posting pictures of drinking with friends does not maintain a positive image and might cost you your dream teaching job. Your actions and decisions have to line up with your personal brand. This is what it takes to create a successful and convincing brand. As aforementioned, it’s all about presentation. Be professional in every aspect of your life. With social media each move you make is either documented by you or others and it’s traceable. To sell your brand you must maintain consistency within all aspects of your life.
A résumé isn’t enough in today’s competitive job-hunting environment. You are who you choose to be. Take control of your life and your future. Land your dream job by promoting yourself through self-branding and advertising. The same New Yorker article references Tom Peters, a successful business guru and author of A Brand Called You. Take advice from Peters, “Remember my mantra: be distinct … or extinct.”
Carrie Garrison is a sophomore Violin performance major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.