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The Almighty Personal Brand, Defined Once and For All

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I’ve always been a rip-the-band-aid-off type of gal, so let’s start with a hard truth.

Once you hit the job market, employers will be thinking of you as an investment. Gasp-worthy I know, but it’s true. If they’re copping out the dough, they want to know they’ll be getting their money’s worth of dazzling hard work and dedication. A return of investment, so to speak.

This is why setting up your personal brand is important.

But I don’t know what a personal brand is…

It’s okay gf, I’ve got you covered.

A personal brand is your professional image (a.k.a your reputation). Now before you start rebelling in the spirit of Joan Jett’s “I don’t give a damn ‘bout my bad reputation”, hear me out. As a young entrepreneur, you should care about your reputation. In order to snatch a job, you need to be perceived as the talented young grad you know yourself to be. If you are not clearly defining who you are and what you are capable of, there is no way for them to know about the bright ideas hidden inside that brain of yours. Think of it as a way of marketing yourself. You want to let the world know why they need you on their team.

[Related: 12 Ways to Perfect Your Personal Brand]

So now that we’ve clarified what a personal brand is, how to we create one?

Well…your personal brand already exists, whether you chose to build it or not.

Your values, skills, the way you dress, the things you say, anything that goes into forming your persona influences your personal brand. So rather than asking “how do I create my personal brand?”, the real question should be, “how do I mold it into an AWESOME personal brand?

An awesome personal brand involves actively taking ownership of who you are and what you want. You are an authentic human being and, therefore, need to get that across in order to stand out.

[Related: 3 No-Fail Ways to Build Your Personal Brand]

So how do you get there?

As inhabitants of the digital age, your online presence is your most important tool.

So a few tips:

1. Be purposeful on what you share on social media.

“LOL turnt so hard last night bitches”

…is probably not doing your personal brand any good. Keep it fun, but keep it light. You want to reflect yourself in a positive way, so endless posts about your red-solo-cup adventures may not be the best way to document yourself. Remember, your digital footprints follow you everywhere.

2. Keep your Twitter/LinkedIn bio short and sweet.

Let the world know who you are and why they should care. You have a couple of seconds to catch somebody’s eye, so use it well. Make a personal statement that describes your hopes, ambitions, life experiences and inspirations. Show your personality, but save the funny taglines for your Tinder bios.

3. No crazy email addresses.

You want to appear polished and sophisticated when emailing in your resume, or contacting an employer with some questions, so maybe is not the best email address to supply.

4. Same goes for voicemails.

If you miss a call back for a potential interview, you don’t want them to have to listen to a goofy minute long voicemail before they can leave a “call me back” memo.

[Related: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Branding]

5. Have a semi-professional looking picture.

This may be the first image they get to see of you. Show yourself in the way you feel comfortable sharing with potential mentors, employers, and colleagues.

6. Network.

Whether this involves attending networking events at school, getting to know the professors in your field, or just making friends with your classmates, connecting with people can lead to great opportunities. You never know, they might know “a friend that knows a friend that knows a friend” that can hook you up.

[Related: How to Master the Art of Networking]

The fundamental truth about being a human being is that the way others see you matters. So whether you’re looking to launch your career, move up in a company, or simply hold a good image, personal branding is vital to success. Everyone you meet is going to hold an opinion about you so it is better to take control of the situation and decide what that reputation becomes.

This article was originally published on the Lala.

Photo: Massimo Colombo / iStock

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