By: Olivia Adams
Whether it’s your first year in college or you’re getting ready to graduate, it’s never too soon or late to start building your personal brand.
It’s important for every PR student to understand the value behind personal branding in college. You’re career doesn’t begin with your first internship, it starts the moment you step foot on campus. Everything you from now on will influence your career path and help you grow into a confident, young professional. Because of this, it’s incredibly important for you to start building your brand as soon as possible. This will help you have leverage on your internship search and landing a job after college.
Personal branding is a strategy that helps you, the aspiring PR professional, market yourself to people in your network as well as employers. Your personal brand is a great way to share with the world what makes you awesome, while at the same time, building relationships with people who will help you throughout your career.
Think about your passions. It’s common for many college students not to have any idea about what they want to do after college. Sometimes, they almost tend to think too hard on the topic. Believe it or not, many PR pros find jobs they love because of what they love.
Are you a fashionista or sports fanatic? Well, there’s a PR job for that! The best part about launching a career in PR is being able to follow your passions and blend them into a career you love. This is why it’s important for you to start thinking about your interests and passions and determine how you could turn them into a career.
Get connected on social media. I’m not just talking about posting on Facebook and Twitter occasionally. I’m talking about building your personal brand through social media. Today’s public relations professional is very social and digital, therefore it’s important to start building a brand and gaining experience using social media.
If you’re new to tweeting or posting on LinkedIn, have no worries. Social media was a foreign concept to me my first year in PRSSA (and it definitely took me a long time to build up my online presence). However, after spending time my sophomore year exploring Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, WordPress, and About.me, I was able to learn how to use these platforms effectively and build my brand.
Here are a few key points to remember when branding yourself on social media: Always keep it professional, talk about your passions, and connect with like-minded people. Do your best to refrain from 2 a.m. tweeting on your way home from the bar or complaining about your ex. You want to have a professional image on social media, so find a way to blend your personality with your career interests. This way, you can still have fun using social media while sharing insight on your career. Once you establish your brand, you’ll be surprised how many Detroit Tigers loving, scuba diving PR pros are out there! Now is the time to start a conversation and begin networking with people who have similar interests as you!
Start blogging. Whether you like it or not, writing is a HUGE part of public relations. This is a skill that can definitely make it or break it for you in your career. However, don’t let this scare you because you have the ability to be an incredible writer – you just have to practice! Invest some time this year to break into the world of blogging. This is a great way for you to discover your interests, develop your voice, and most importantly, practice your writing skills. The best writers invest time in reading and writing. Even if it’s spending an hour per week writing on your Tumblr or WordPress account just for yourself, make sure you are taking the time to perfect your writing skills.
Connect with an upperclassman or alumni. If the concept of personal branding feels foreign to you, I definitely recommend connecting with an upperclassman or alum in your program. By doing this, you will be able to learn the ropes of personal branding and how to feel comfortable with this strategy.
Personal branding is a long-term process and through talking with an upperclassman, you’ll be able to learn what it takes to build a successful personal brand. Remember, gaining 700 followers on Twitter doesn’t happen over night. It takes years of networking, blogging, and branding to truly become influential on social media. This is why it’s important for you to get connected as soon as possible to students and alum that have an established personal brand so you can learn their secrets of branding success!
I know it’s a lot to take in, but hopefully you are feeling inspired to start building your personal brand. Now is the time to sign up with Twitter, get connected on LinkedIn, and start blogging with WordPress, Blogger, or whatever you choose! You should also start networking within your PRSSA chapter and learning how you can connect with PR pros in your area.
Your personal brand is the most powerful tool you can have as a college student or young PR pro. It’s time to get out there and start building a reputation for yourself!
Are you just beginning the personal branding process? What are you doing to build your brand?