By Dr. Aikyna Finch
Faculty Training Developer, American Public University
Your “brand” is how the world sees and associates with you, so building your brand is very important in the professional world. As a college student, it is important that this impression is positive and professional even before you finish your degree. Now is the time to start creating your professional brand using the following three-step process.
Step 1: Develop your branding goals. Branding is when you hone your skills, your focus and your passion to develop a plan that markets you in a positive and professional way. Ask yourself questions such as:
What are my values?
How do I want the public to see me?
What makes me stand out from the crowd?
These questions are the foundation of the brand you are trying to create. To answer these questions, you have to know yourself as a professional and as a person.
Step 2: Develop a physical and social brand plan. The physical brand includes all things tangible such as business cards, mailings, brochures and other information about yourself. These things should be uniform, clean and classic.
The social brand includes all things electronic such as LinkedIn, Facebook, email and other social media. They can share some of the same information and templates as the physical branding materials, but they can also be more dynamic in appealing to the viewer. Remember, what you put on your social media profiles will appear in Google, so keep your site content professional.
When this part of the plan is in place, it will enhance how you look professionally by adding that polished look. It will also showcase your skill and talents that the viewer is looking for in your industry.
Step 3: Develop your brand portfolio. As a college student, you should have a professional branding plan in place that includes:
An eSignature for your email correspondence
A LinkedIn profile for professional networking
Print and electronic copies of your bio and resume
Samples of your professional work
Letters of recommendation
Your branding elements should be portfolio-ready at all times because you never know where your networking will take you, so always be prepared.
Once you know who you are and how you want to be seen as a professional, building your brand will become second nature. Having a strong brand in place will help you on job interviews or advancing at your current position.
As a professional, you must be consistent and truthful in everything that represents you. If you start working on the three steps now, you will have everything you need upon graduation to make a great impression in your chosen field.
If you have some additional steps that you use, please share them in the comments section so we can learn from each other.
Dr. Aikyna Finch is a podcaster, social media coach and speaker. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council specializing in empowerment, life and social media for individuals and groups through her company Finch and Associates LLC. She is the co-host of the Motivate Social Podcast broadcast by her company Changing Minds Online. In 2018, Dr. Finch founded the Social Power Summit, an event with live and virtual components for Women in STEM and People of Color in Social Media to have a platform where they can shine.
Dr. Finch is the co-author of six books and launched her first solo project, Motivation Ignited in November 2016. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, Goalcast, Forbes and Thrive Global. She can be found at DrADFinch on all social media platforms.
Dr. Finch received a Doctorate of Management, an MBA in Technology Management and an Executive MBA from Colorado Technical University. She also has an M.S. in Management in Marketing, an M.S. in Information Systems in IT Project Management from Strayer University, and a B.S. in Aeronautical Technology in Industrial Electronics from the School of Engineering at Tennessee State University.
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