by Kristy Amburgey
Some people consider branding as a marketing method of large corporations with iconic images, like the Coca-Cola can or the perfectly simple Nike logo. Branding, though, is a technique that can be implemented by any job seeker or professional. After understanding why you should have a brand and what steps you should take before branding, you can now work on your brand.
Branding is marketing yourself to potential employers using technological and creative resources, allowing you to stand out from others. Some of you already have a brand but just don’t know how to further it. Branding can involve Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, blogging, personal website, user generated media like Squidoo, podcasts, speaking engagements/webinars and more.
One of the easiest ways to create a brand is via LinkedIn, and many of you may already have an account. But you need to ensure your LinkedIn profile is approachable, meaning that it entices people to want to read it and then makes it easy for the readers to find useful information about you. A professional picture, a clearly worded headline with a value statement and accurate job and education information are all valuable ways in which your profile can be quickly scanned for information that helps a potential employer (or even a client). Ensure that your Skills & Expertise area is complete and that your contact preferences allow people to communicate with you. Just like with so many job search resources, LinkedIn is not a passive wait-and-see site. You need to be active, and you need to be a good connection to others. Join groups but also provide valuable comments and feedback. Share resources or articles but share them with people who you feel would benefit the most from the information. You can also use some of the “apps” that LinkedIn hosts to share presentations or portfolios. Although you want your privacy settings on the appropriate level that makes you comfortable, you need to ensure you still come up in online searches.
Like LinkedIn, you can use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as a way to build your brand. It is imperative that you maintain a distinct separation from your personal habits and your professional presence. One of the best ways to handle this distinction is to create professional accounts for each of the sources you use. Via your professional Facebook account, you can like pages of companies you want to target for employment, you can share relevant content with your group and you can befriend people in your professional world. Build a following on Twitter by being an expert in your field. Google+ allows your brand to be more visible in internet search results. Just be aware that Facebook, specifically, and these types of resources can be favored for fun, personal interactions, and your friends may not welcome a more professional presence.
Using other technology to create your brand is just as beneficial but may need a bit more time to devote to maintain your web presence. Consider starting and actively maintaining a blog relevant to your industry. Create a website that serves almost like your resume. Contribute to online publications so that your authorship is more easily found.
Even though technology is one of the best ways to extend your brand, you should definitely use good ole fashioned in-person networking. During informal or formal networking sessions, offer your services as a way to establish your expertise. Communicate your brand to your mentors and ask for honest feedback. Write articles for publications in traditional print, where your biography can be included with information about your website or blog. Even something simple like adding your online branding links to your business card is beneficial. After meeting with people, follow-up with them via a thank you note or personal email about something that is helpful to them.
Creating your brand is not enough. You need to maintain and promote your brand. Ensure you consistently update your profiles, Twitter, blog, etc. so that you continue building your presence. Ensure that you periodically revise information on websites or blogs to keep things fresh and current. Promoting your brand can take a bit more time, but it can be worth the extra effort. When you leave comments for someone, include relevant links back to your web presence. Advocate for your brand by asking to be considered for inclusion in “top” lists and on websites that drive plenty of traffic. Consider using Google Analytics to optimize your brand.
This list of ways in which you can build your brand is fairly short. Keep in mind that for every popular branding platform, there are three to four other options that you can use. You don’t have to stick to this list either. Get creative and find ways to establish your brand that appeals to you and your abilities. If you are struggling with the idea of using these resources, consider finding someone who is able to work with you until you feel more comfortable using the technology. Creating your brand is important so implement some of these platforms to establish a meaningful presence in the industry.
On a side note, one of my favorite blogs is the Personal Branding Blog. This site is a great resource for the topic of branding.
The last article in this series is about protecting your brand. Look for it next week!
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.