Hello readers of the YUBlog!
With the bi-annual Career Fair behind us, I thought this would be a great time to write another Career Talks post. Since first impressions are very important when meeting others, what better way to follow up on a career fair (or prepare for the next one in January 2017) than think about your personal brand? Since I am quite passionate about this topic, and there is a lot to cover, this will be a four-part post posted as a mini series.
New to career fairs? Play this short video from last year’s for an introduction!
Let me begin this post with a little story. It is a bit personal, so if you are in a rush and here for the key takeaways only, feel free to skip this portion of the piece.
In the beginning of my first year, I, like many of us do, struggled with my self-esteem and confidence. This was attributable to a significant change in environment, the everlasting feeling of becoming a small fish in a big pond and the rejections I had received for both job opportunities and club executive positions. In fact, I can clearly remember interviewing for more than five different clubs and being rejected for each one.
One day, pursuing my love for the art of writing, I started a blog highlighting my personal life and what I guess you could call my “struggles”. After some convincing from a close friend, I ended up sharing this blog on Facebook, so that my friends and family could catch a glimpse of my daily life. Somehow this blog became my identity.
Now you may be wondering: Garima, how does one blog, that you shared on Facebook once, become your identity? Well, let me give you a little background to have that make some sense. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, I am pursuing a bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at Schulich. With an incoming class of approximately 450 students every year, my program is small in size and big in community spirit. Most of my classes take place in one building, and it will come as no surprise that almost everyone knows everyone else. Keeping this in mind, it is not uncommon for students to have a large network on Facebook, especially when it comes to upper-year students.
I hadn’t realized this at the time, but by sharing my blog, I was creating a personal brand. Not long after I had promoted my blog on social media, people began coming up to me in the hallways and complimenting me on my writing skills. It was not much later that my peers began asking me for writing advice for extracurricular applications or some school projects. It was a bit overwhelming, but through conversation, and through this admittedly stumbled-upon brand, I was able to land three executive positions and my job at the YUBlog.
To the eyes of the people in front of me, I was a writer.
Before I continue with this post and explain what personal branding is in more theoretical terms, I would like to put a disclaimer for the readers of the YUBlog:
My suggestions are based partly on my own experiences and partly on the research I have conducted on this topic. Since the topic of personal branding is broad, I suggest using the topics discussed below and in the following posts as guidelines to adapt to your personal situation, rather than an as rules to be replicated exactly. Furthermore, I have, to the best of my ability, kept these posts as flexible as possible. My suggestions do not favour a specific program or stream of education. Students from any program or Faculty, from business to the arts or engineering, can make use of my tips.
What is branding? In the most common context, branding is a strategy that aims to create a differentiated and significant presence in an otherwise competitive market for goods and services. In simpler terms, branding is a way for companies and organizations to achieve their goals by using logos, trademarks, slogans and the like to rise above their competition. Examples of branding done right include:
- The Nike swoosh & “Just Do It” slogan
- McDonald’s golden arches
- Apple’s iconic logo
By this time in history, however, in an increasingly globalized environment, branding has surpassed the business place and created another identity for itself — that of personal branding.
What is personal branding?
According to Wikipedia, personal branding “is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands.” While traditional management techniques were all about self-improvement, emerging techniques such as personal branding suggest that success is achieved through self-packaging.
Neil Patel, digital entrepreneur and “#1 marketer in the world”, says:
In today’s job market and entrepreneurial landscape, there is no room for being another face in the crowd. You have to separate yourself from the competition. You have to be more appealing to your target audience and you can achieve it by creating a recognizable personal brand.
According to Neil and many others, personal branding is a three-pronged approach: Person (P), Online (O), Paper (P). In the coming weeks, I will be posting a piece on each one of these approaches, as well as highlighting some of the ways through which you can build a strong personal brand.
Are you excited to start creating your personal brand? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below or tweet us @YorkUStudents with the #YUBLOG. Until next time!