Professional Guidance Part 2: Personal Branding for College Students.

It is important to design, maintain, and promote individual brands. Personal branding is the process of marketing oneself in society. Branding reflects your skills, abilities, and lifestyle. Personal branding creates connections with people, via face to face or on social media platforms. An average person spends at most 120 minutes of their time each day on their social media platforms. Teens spend an average of 9 hours daily trying to catch up with friends and the world. As a student, it is among your requirements to not only understand but deliberately cultivate your digital presence.  It is your right to post pictures, comment, tweet, like, and share contents of whatever kind. But did you know as a young person that uses social media, you are building your professional brand by the things you share on social media?

Do you know that at times human resource personnel use social media to review their potential candidates? In fact, a study done by Career Builders said 70% of employers use social media to screen their candidates. Guess you did not know. There is an urge to teach students on social processes and artifacts that impact perception for them to maintain and control their personal brands. Your personal brand is what differentiates you from the competition and allows you to build trust with prospective clients and employers? It is important to note that if you are active on social media, you already have a personal brand even if you don’t make attempts to build it. Personal brands exist, whether you create it or not.

Personal branding needs a strategy. Before you start growing your personal brand, it is important to know the best practices first before you end up in pitfalls. Any single misstep can set your brand back and hurt your reputation. So, what are the best personal branding strategies?

  • Be true to yourself
    • You want to come off as authentic. Let your personality shine because it is the most unique thing to you.
  • Believe in yourself as a brand
    • Highlight your strengths and let people know what you bring to the table. Confidence is a powerful trait and if you wear it well. People will take note! Be careful not mix confidence up with cockiness! 
  • Create your online presence
    • Your online presence starts with creating visible profiles on social media platforms. Many businesses use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to establish their brand. You should do the same! It is very important for your profiles to be legit. To make your profile legit you want to make sure that you include enough personal information such as your name, contact information, and a description of yourself. This helps your viewers verify your identity and creates trust.
  • Build a relationship with other brands
    • People want to do business with the people they like and know. In simple terms this is nothing more than networking. I am a firm believer that your network is your net worth! Building relationships is key to any advancement in life. You can build relationships by reaching out to individuals that share similar interests as you. This does not have to be formal, something simple as “Hello, I saw on your profile that you studied education at Mercy College. Do you have 15 minutes to talk about your experiences with Mercy?”

In everything you opt to do via social media, remember that you are building your personal brand.

By Marques McKinney
Marques McKinney Marketing and Analytics Chair Marques McKinney