If you read the YUBlog earlier this week, you will know I’ve started a mini series on personal branding. Today we’re on to part 2, which deals with branding yourself in person.
Often, people struggle with the category of “in person” the most. “Who am I as a person” may seem like a simple question to answer, but as soon as you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, you notice it comes with its challenges. This is where a brainstorm session or a personality/aptitude test come in handy. York’s Career Centre offers some help in that regard as well, as my colleague Daniel wrote not too long ago.
The first thing to do when building your personal brand is to outline your strengths. What areas do you excel in? What kind of projects are you most comfortable pursuing? What topics are you most interested in? When thinking about these questions, it can also be helpful to consider the opposite to clarify your strengths: Where do you generally struggle? What kind of tasks make you cringe?
A great tip that I learned from a recruiter was to focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. Let’s go through an example:
Two students meet a recruiter. Student A has a bubbly and extroverted personality; he/she has no problem keeping up a conversation. Enter Student B, who has a lot to offer but is introverted. What should Student B’s next step be? Should Student B go out of his/her way to be more enthusiastic or outspoken? The answer is no. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, which will result in average and sub-par results under pressure, differentiate yourself. Perhaps Student B can use his/her creative thinking to ask out-of-the-box questions and make a good impression. The options are endless!
According to Neil Patel, who I introduced in my first post of the series:
“Your values are the things that drive your life. They’re at the core of your being and you refer to them when making decisions. Maybe you don’t always refer to them, everybody makes bad decisions sometimes, but when you make your best decisions in life, you usually consider your values.”
How do you determine your values? Grab a list like this or this and print it out. Give yourself a few minutes to skim the list and consider its contents. Next, circle 10 to 15 words that stick out the most to you. Create a new list of these words and repeat the process until you have approximately five words. These words will be your driving force in life and define what you value in your life and workplace and should become the values you should share with people you meet in writing or in person.
Purpose (& Passion)
What is your purpose? I don’t mean those one-liners on your resumé under the “objective” heading that read something like “to secure an internship for summer 2016” or “be employed full-time after graduation”. To me, purpose goes hand in hand with passion, because more often than not, our purpose stems from our interests and the things we are curious about.
For example, you may have a passion for the following:
- Digital marketing
- Not-for-profit organizations
If these were the things you were passionate about, perhaps your purpose would be to help a not-for-profit organization by increasing awareness and outreach through digital marketing, while at the same time supporting yourself with a job that is stable and provides room for growth.
Having trouble creating your personal brand vision and defining your strengths, values and passion? Perhaps my older post, Career Talks: Work & Flow, will help.
Now you may be wondering why I am asking you to consider all these things. Well, your strengths, values and purpose come together to create your personal brand vision. Your personal brand is not created as of yet, but your vision for it is. Your rough-around-the-edges vision can then slowly transform into a personal brand for which you can create an elevator pitch.
You may have heard of this term before, but in case you haven’t, let me briefly explain. Imagine you get on an elevator with one other person. You make small talk and find out that this person is a manager at XYZ company. You have 30 seconds or less to make your case and pitch your personal brand before one of you gets off the elevator. Sound tough? It can be, but it is a lot easier if you have a loose elevator pitch prepared. Remember, however, that although you are pitching yourself and your abilities, you are not giving a presentation — lose the structure and allow for a conversation if possible. If you feel that you have connected by the end of this pitch, you can exchange contact information and send a follow-up email or call, whatever you feel is appropriate. This is speed networking at its finest. And if the idea of happening upon you dream job or project or volunteer position on an elevator ride seems far fetched, remember that I am mostly suggesting the exercise to help you clarify your ideas about yourself, what you want and your strengths — so that you can talk or write about those things with confidence and precision when an occasion does arise.
Need help creating your elevator pitch? Visit the Career Centre for a drop-in!