How many re-tweets define your personal brand? Zippo. Same is true with the amount of "likes" or "endorsements" on your LinkedIn Profile. When it comes to your career, popularity on social media is trumped by your relevant life experiences.
Your brand stems from how you live your life
Whether you believe in a blended work/life philosophy or not, your career brand is an extension of YOU...your presence, behavior, talents, contributions and lasting impressions.
When perception is reality, only you can be responsible for delivering on your promise and taking an active role in what you portray to others.
For graduate students, this means making a mental shift during the year—a shift from "student" to "leader." Your experience of interacting with staff, faculty or classmates may positively or negatively shape how these same individuals ultimately provide recommendations for you to potential future employers.
Your career is a personal journey
There isn't one career path, but many. And your brand image reflects your learnings, influence and results along the way.
Social media has made it easier and faster to self-promote—but this comes at a cost. Lines have become blurred on the effective ways to define who you are, your value to a company and what it means to have a brand. Don't confuse these two: relevance of excellent performance on your teams vs. the seeming satisfaction you may feel with the sheer visibility of your name in feeds. Social media may support your viewpoints. But it's often said that the words others say about you when you leave the room is your true brand. Your legacy.
Three key things influence business: (1) defining goals toward a purpose (2) motivating by following through on promises and (3) generating results—with people, companies, products, repeat clients and environments. Whether you work for a company or own your business, you'll need to refine these three points repeatedly. Commitments matter. Remind yourself that others will continually form opinions of you based on how well you work with people, your demonstrated flexibility in your role/location and your ability to translate a vision.
Start from a foundation of trust. Personal brands are maintained and strengthened by your leadership style, enhanced in the face of adversity and nurtured by the encounters you have with people not just during an interview, but every day. And whether you're preparing for a career shift or your first job, recognize you need to be yourself, act consistently and have patience daily. You won't always land your dream job upon graduation but a combination of determination, persistence and grit will get you there!
Learn how to BE your brand
Your brand involves knowing yourself but it also requires awareness hat every project team interaction, every communication with a staff member, every presentation to a class is an opportunity to define, build, extend and live your brand.
10 Keys to Building a Successful Career Brand
Tip 1: Be Fearless
Take advantage of every networking event, meeting, guest speaker appearance and gathering where you can find people like yourself. Go ahead and introduce yourself to someone new — it only takes one person to help change your life.
Tip 2: Be Adaptable
As a university educating students from 140 nationalities across five global campuses, we at Hult International Business School understand the world’s employers expect you to "go with the flow," pick up on the unexpected and perhaps even move to new locations for jobs. Your flexibility will open career doors.
Tip 3: Be Global
It's important to stay on top of what's happening globally. Don’t be limited to work strictly in the U.S. Today’s student is a global citizen — know the market trends and shift toward markets with potential for high growth.
Tip 4: Be Conscientious
Students today are not only aware of the triple bottom line, but seek it — be profitable, be environmentally (or ecologically) safe and be socially responsible. Your volunteer experience says just as much about you as your work experience. Students today do see sustainability as everything.
Tip 5: Be Yourself
In a world of reality TV, authenticity still rules. Bring your authentic whole self to work every day and enjoy the people you’re with. Let them see the real you.
Tip 6: Be Simple
LinkedIn headlines of 120 characters and Twitter handles of 140 characters prompt some efficiency with words, but students should stick to a "less-is-more" mentality. Ahead of an interview, practice, practice, practice your answers to interview questions and your elevator pitch so they are succinct — know yourself.
Tip 7: Be Responsible
In a 24/7 global society, recognize that someone somewhere is counting on you. Don’t wait to be told what to do. Instead, act on an opportunity to do the right thing.
Tip 8: Be a Storyteller
Every story has a beginning, middle and end. What will your story be? How you represent yourself within the first seven seconds of meeting a prospective employer will have more of an impact than your resume. Don’t be afraid to be original and draw on your past. About six to eight really good stories can answer a wide variety and a substantial number of interview questions.
Tip 9: Be a Spark
It’s okay to be bold, stand out, drive change and impact lives — choose a creative headline for yourself. Leave a positive, lasting impression during an interview with a memorable last statement. Design a unique infographic, video or resume.
Tip 10: Be Original
Set yourself apart from other candidates by explaining that, “Unlike competitors ____, I do ____ for customers.” Or, when asked by an interviewer, "Tell me about yourself," you have three very unique, personal and relevant stories to say that tie to the role you're seeking. Show originality through defining past results, aligning current goals to the company and conceptualizing future ideas for the team.
Leave a lasting positive impression
At the end of the day, being skilled, likeable, memorable and a contributor will define whether or not your future employer sees you as a fit during an interview. Once you land the role, it's YOUR job to grow, learn and actively shape your personal brand within the organization--through true experiences and relationships.
Markow's 10 Tips were also published in Bostinno's 10 Tips from Hult Boston: How to Build Your Personal Brand and Achieve Career Success.