Personal Branding for Young Professionals

 

30x30x30 Blogathon Post #14:  June 14th – Samantha Zinth

Samantha (Sam) Zinth closes out the 2nd week of the Personal Branding Blogathon with her insight on how personal branding provides needed direction for young professionals as they enter the workforce. Sam specializes in career coaching for college students and recent graduates. She is clearly in a unique position to empower the future generation as they head into a very different global economy from just 5 years ago. Sam knows that young professionals need to immediately define their unique promise of value or run the risk of job hoping from one dead-end job to another. Her tips below are crucial to this process. Check out her professional skills blog, Career 101.

Enjoy Sam’s post and share with young professionals you know.

 

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Personal Branding for Young Professionals

I don’t know about you, but I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life when I was 22. I’m now pushing 30, and quite honestly, I’m still figuring it out.

This lack of direction as a young professional paralyzed me. How was I supposed to be a success when I couldn’t even define what long-term success looked like? Here I was, a recent college graduate with a job and a car payment and an apartment—a full-fledged adult by virtually anyone’s definition—and I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Gulp.

So I did what many meandering, misdirected young professionals do: I accepted positions aimlessly, with no regard to fit or function. I job jumped, hoping that the next position would be better than the last. After holding three dead-end jobs in two years it hit me: this isn’t getting me anywhere.

Instead of blazing ahead, I had to step back and think—really think—about who I was and what I wanted professionally. I had to define not only my career goals, but also myself.

Enter: personal branding

 

Your Personal Brand is Not a Gimmick

Although I was seeking direction and definition as a young professional, I didn’t realize at the time that what I was doing was really personal branding. I was just trying to formulate a plan for my future. Figure out who I was, and what I was about.

Personal branding has become a bit of a buzzword in the last decade. But your personal brand is not a gimmick or a sales pitch.Your personal brand is you. It’s natural, it’s authentic, and it’s never forced. It’s who you are—and what you offer.

“Your personal brand is what you live and breathe each and every day.” Tweet This!

Effective marketers know that branding is about consistency. Every personal and professional interaction you have—either in person or online—is an opportunity to shape and manage how people perceive you. It is everything from your bio on Twitter to your presentation to senior management. Everything you write, speak or do is a reflection of you and your brand. For others to internalize, trust and believe in your brand, it’s imperative that you reinforce your message over and over again.

4 Tips for a Personal Branding ‘Newbie’

So as a young professional, how do you begin to articulate your personal brand? When you have 20 years of career experience under your belt, hopefully your brand will practically smack you in the face. But when you’re just getting started and you don’t have decades of work experience behind you, try the following:

  • Ask around. Whether you know it or not, you already have a personal brand. Ask your friends and colleagues to describe you in five words. You may be surprised by how people see you. Look for themes that were repeated over and over again and integrate these ideas into your personal brand.
  • Define your passions. There’s nothing more authentic than pure passion. Let the things you’re naturally enthusiastic about shape your brand. Even if you haven’t found your dream job yet, stay active and current in your ideal field. Volunteer, freelance, find a mentor, etc. Let your enthusiasm shine.
  • Leverage the power of social media. Social media allows virtually anyone to be a content expert. Be strategic about your online presence and become a thought leader in your field. Share resources and connect with others around common interests. Remember, to be important, you first have to be interesting.
  • Promote yourself. Once you’ve defined your brand, share it with others! Use your brand to build connections and differentiate yourself. Your brand is about you, but its power is in the value it provides to others. Let people know what you have to offer. Strive to be genuine and helpful. Your brand is all about perception; above all else, you need consistency and strong relationships to succeed.

 

 

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About the author

Samantha Zinth Samantha (Sam) Zinth is a student career coach and professional skills blogger. She's passionate about empowering young professionals to maximize their strengths, make meaningful connections, and actualize their short and long-term career goals. Follow her on Twitter (@SamZinth) or visit her Career 101 blog (www.samzinth.com).