How personal branding can kickstart your career
FROM media communications student to digital marketer, Ivan Lim shares his two cents on the biggest challenge facing marketing graduates – getting your foot in the door to the job you want.
The biggest concern for almost every marketing student as they approach graduation is the question, “How am I going to get a job”. Unless a student is one of the select few with a job waiting for them, the stress of what lies after university usually takes the gloss off graduation day.
The marketing industry is infamously hard to break into. A large number of marketing graduates flood the workforce each year and that makes for a very competitive job market, especially if you’re fresh out of university.
So what do marketing students do to stay ahead? They look for work experience. Unfortunately, because marketing can be a generalist degree (it’s not quite the same as studying medicine is it?), most students scavenge for any available work experience to contextualise their theoretical knowledge. Many end up in small businesses that don’t have much marketing know-how but figure they could use an intern to help out (whatever that means).
Instead of learning, students do work closely resembling an administrative assistant – updating client details, organising how many business cards to print etc. Admittedly, there are some excellent work experience places out there, but they are a rarity, not the norm.
Students are pretty much damned if they do get internships, because most placements offer irrelevant experience, and damned if they don’t, because that leaves them nowhere.
Unless you’ve got a great work placement lined up, forget about trying to get hired. Consider instead that you might not need a job to get marketing experience! Thankfully the wonder of Personal Branding can help get you miles ahead in landing a marketing job. Here’s how:
Create the Product : Me, Myself and I
So every marketer needs a product to sell right? Well that product is yourself.
Personal Branding has never been as easy, or far reaching, as right now in this digital age. Conversations happen all over the web about almost any topic you can think of. Across Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Quora, and every other strangely named platform, you will find a community of people who are passionate about the same things you are. Finding fellow sport, fashion, car and even reptile lovers, is easy online.
Anybody with an internet connection can build influence online. Just like a society elevates certain individuals as experts, online communities recognise select people as being insightful and wise on specific topics. These communities also tend to be a lot larger because they aren’t limited by physical boundaries. Tweeting a person in Peru works the same as tweeting your next-door neighbour (minus time difference of course).
Individuals can establish reputations across the globe without ever being featured on a newspaper article or television segment. Social media is now the driving force behind personal branding.
Great examples of students building personal brands are Roseanne Tang (Fashion) and Aaron Lee (Social Media). Both are creating strong brands even before they graduate. Whatever they tweet or post on their blog carries weight. How did they do this? They realised the power of personal branding. Every person has a product they can sell, themselves.
Bring the product to market
So the next questions is how does a marketing student build a personal brand? For the sake of being concise, here are some straight forward (but by no means comprehensive) steps for building a brand around yourself.
- Find what makes you tick!
Find out what you’re truly passionate about. Usually it’s something you already spend a lot of time reading up and consuming content on. A good starting point is looking at what magazines you enjoy reading. Apply the same logic to websites you regularly visit. These two sources should give you plenty of clues on what topic you’re passionate about.
- Hang out with people.
Search through Twitter, Facebook, Quora and blogs to see where people of similar interests congregate. Stay up to date on what’s happening in your interest group and regularly communicate with people in that community. Whether you comment on a blog post, join a Twitter chat, or answer questions on Quora, the whole idea is to make connections and grow your sphere of influence.
- You’re an expert right?
After being immersed in the community for some time, you need to start establishing credibility around yourself. People gain influence as they share opinions and insights, you need to do the same. A blog is a great way of doing this. Give yourself an opportunity to articulate unique perspectives on the latest news in your niche or on topics no one else has covered.
Remember everyone is an expert on something, it’s a matter of finding out what that is and building around it.
A combination of genuine passion and social media makes it possible for anyone to build up a personal brand.
- Good Personal Branding usually means Good marketer!
I believe great marketers understand people. They have an instinct for understanding how to capture attention, engage people and build lasting relationships. Establishing a strong personal brand requires the same skill set.
If you placed two resumes on my desk, one with marketing work experience at a real estate agency or an accounting firm versus a person with an active blog and sizeable twitter following, chances are I would hire the person who understands the power of building brand in a digital age.
If you’re looking for work experience and want to get ahead in the marketing industry, seriously consider how personal branding could help. You never know, that twitter account and blog could be your ticket to a dream job!
P.S. If you’re interested in getting into online marketing, I’m always on the look out for good talent. Drop me a line and say hi!
P.P.S Have any other great ideas for building marketing work experience? Let me know in the comments below.
Ivan Lim is the Marketing Manager at OZHut, a fast growing niche online retailer in Australia, and is extensively involved in the world of online marketing. He has a deep passion for the world of e-commerce and businesses that create emotional connections with their customers. Ivan blogs about his insights into e-commerce, business and entrepreneurship at his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @ivanmelvin.