Personal branding. As business students, we know what it is. We have to know what is is, or else we won’t survive.
That may be exaggerated, but it’s not entirely false. Business school is naturally competitive, and as it’s been repeated to you time and time again, you must differentiate yourself. We know how to get this done: we must network, take part in extracurricular activities, volunteer, you name it. And all of that is true. We must get involved and network in our community, or else we won’t have a certain advantage in this “competition”. However, I’m not writing this today to tell you what you already know. As a student at Telfer, I want to remind you that your personal brand will serve you better if it remains on the individual level and true to its name of “personal” brand.
As students, you may have noticed the slight lack of personality around you, or even within yourself. We tend to separate our personality, our true passions and the personal aspects of ourselves from the business persona that we define as our “personal brand”. Building a personal brand means continuously establishing a prescribed image or impression of oneself in the mind of others. It’s essentially marketing, and we tend to believe that marketing is showcasing the good stuff, and hiding the other, not so good stuff. But when it comes to personal branding, there’s no better way for you to stand out to your peers, employers, professors and LinkedIn network than by showcasing all of you. Your personality. Your true attitude. Your passions. In other words, be genuine, even when establishing your prescribed image in the business world.
To be genuine means to insure your actions are consistent with your brand. So if you’re telling employers at a networking event that you are passionate about finance and that you’re a great team player, ask yourself if you embody those things in your daily life. Are you actually good at communicating with your teammates in a group project? Do you talk about finance even outside school-related contexts? If not, then you’re not being truly genuine, and employers will eventually see that.
To give you some context, I’m an HR student, and although the field of HR is arguably not as competitive as some other specializations, it is still my job to reach my goals and to get a job after graduation, at a company I feel passionate about. To achieve my goals, I got involved with the Human Resources Association and became a Career Centre Ambassador. But, so do other students. So what’s so special about me? Well, I try to stay genuine in everything I do. I am truly passionate about the field of Human Resources, and my team at the HRA can see that. I love leadership, and my teammates can pick that up as well. Therefore, my personal brand is the professionally focused me, which is still, in the end, me.
My takeaway is to hopefully encourage you to be yourself in everything you do. Don’t be afraid to promote ideas that you are passionate about and to express yourself, because that means you will always be consistent with the brand you are communicating, whether it’s to peers, teammates or employers. And trust me, what your peers know of you, employers will as well, eventually.