Personal Branding, Part 3: Online

Posted by Garima on October 25, 2016

Careers | Inside Perspectives

If you’ve been following my mini series on personal branding, you’ll know that today it’s time for part 3 of how to craft a successful identity to help you achieve your goals:


In the past there was no such thing as an “online identity”, but in the era of quickly developing technology and globalization, your online identity could very well be your entire identity, or at least it could be perceived as such.

In the past you may have been advised to keep your social media presence “clean” and free of any offensive material in case anyone you want to impress took a look. While this statement still definitely holds true, the “clean” online profile is no longer sufficient when it comes to marketing yourself. Taking initiative is key.

As always, let’s use an example:

Meet Xingyi Yan, a 21-year-old University of Toronto graduate.


Image courtesy of Marta Iwanek, Toronto Star

Two years ago, determined to get a job and show her knack for marketing, Xingyi Yan walked the streets of downtown Toronto for weeks with a sign advertising her skills. Her photo, captured by the Toronto Star and passersby, went viral. That is when she received more than 14 job offers, including for the position of a search analyst for a media and SEO optimization company which she later accepted.

This is the power of social media.

I am not recommending that we should all make a sign and stand in the streets of downtown Toronto for a job; my point is that initiative and creative thinking works. Not only did Xingyi Yan create a personal brand for herself — a young adult who is persistent and innovative — but she landed herself a valuable job in a field she was passionate about.

Based on my personal experiences, the social media platforms that provide the best personal branding and networking opportunities are Twitter and LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is a professional Facebook of sorts, Twitter is a less formal, multi-media platform that allows you to display your personal brand vision.

Social media plays a huge role in personal branding.

For the purpose of this post I will focus on LinkedIn and provide the readers of the YUBlog with five tips for a stellar LinkedIn profile.

Tip #1: Be detail-oriented

This seems like an easy thing to do, but you would be surprised how many people forgo this step. When using a platform like LinkedIn, it is important to remember the amount of people that could be visiting your page. If your profile is incomplete, misses details or has grammatical errors, it could reflect badly on your personal brand. Ensure that your profile is on point and seamless.

Tip #2: Head shots are important

Head shots and professional-looking photos are very important on LinkedIn. It is proven that we tend to click on and view more favorably profiles with pictures of actual people, rather than images that display standard icons. Research also suggests that your LinkedIn profile is 11 times more likely to get clicked on if you add a photo. Your photo does not have to be taken professionally; just ensure that it is appropriate and has good quality.

Tip #3: Be unique

It is especially important to have a creative/unique heading and profile summary. These are two things that people view first. Remember, you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention before they move on to another profile.

Tip #4: Get involved

LinkedIn is all about networking. It is useless to have a LinkedIn profile if you do not create new or maintain established relationships. This can be done with personalized messages (very important AND very effective!), liking/sharing/commenting, joining relevant groups and endorsing people.

Tip #5: Add publications, projects and even other media links

It is very important to provide support and evidence where necessary. In my own profile summary, for example, I have attached a few media links that feature my work. This gives credibility and creates a sense of trust. But worry not: if you do not have media links, that is also completely OK! Add any unique projects you completed at school or a program you made at work to prove your abilities to those viewing your profile.

For more LinkedIn tips, visit the York Career Centre’s workshop handouts page.

What do you think? Do you have any additional suggestions for a great LinkedIn or other online profile? Comment below or tweet us at @YorkUStudents with the #YUBLOG.


Garima is a second-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Student at YorkU . She no longer blogs regularly for the YU Blog but may post on occasion as a guest-blogger.

See other posts by Garima

  • Garima

    Hello Lukas,

    Thanks for writing! I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

    1) Yes there are multiple resources at York for students to learn about personal branding! The Career Centre hosts personal branding workshops from time to time and also has multiple resources online to consult: Coming from a business student’s perspective, I believe that students do get a lot of support from student organizations as well. An example is YORK SOS, a student-run organization that released a 4-part video on how to land jobs in 4 industries by focusing on personal brand.

    2) While I am not aware of any “personal branding” courses at York, there are many courses that allow students to build upon their transferrable skills and apply them to create a holistic brand. For example, there is a “Voice and Speech” course that allows students to perfect their brand by helping them become aware of their presence and tone.

    3) I believe York uses multiple social media platforms to garner awareness on these topics, specifically Facebook and Twitter. However, these acts of awareness are not usually geared specifically towards personal branding but rather career development in general. I think at the end of the day, it is also partly the student’s responsibility to seek out the resources at hand.

    I hope I answered your questions! Should you have anymore, I would love to answer them. Good luck on writing your book! 🙂



  • Avatar
    Lukas Pesa

    Hi Garima,

    I am doing some research for a book I am writing about the degree to which universities teach personal branding to their students. I was wondering if you can help me out.

    -Are there any career services at York where students can learn about personal branding and how to use it to connect with great companies?
    -Are there academic courses that allow students to learn personal branding?
    -How well (if at all) does York make students aware that it offers personal branding services (if it does)?

    I hope to get your perspective on some of these questions!


    Lukas Pesa
    Founder and CEO, Lukas Pesa Consultation

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