In elementary school, we wrote essays which were graded based on four categories: organization, grammar, content and voice.

When I think of personal branding now, I am reminded of the “voice” category of that four-part rubric. Like successful elementary school essays, much of establishing who we are has to do with simply presenting information about ourselves in a certain light and doing so without grammatical errors. As a college student, especially within the communications field, personal branding is critical and all too easy to get wrong. If you’re looking to establish or clean up your image, start with the tips below.

  • GET ONLINE

My generation has no problem getting on the web. However, just being online isn’t enough. It’s crucial to not only have a presence on Facebook and Twitter but to also be active on LinkedIn, WordPress and Youtube if possible. Vlogging – video blogging – paired with blogging creates an immense social network that could come in handy later on, and it provides a way for potential employers and clients to get a sense of who you are. Unless you have reasons to be concerned for your safety, keep everything public. Keep your name, face and brand fresh in every online community. Be connected and post often.

  • PICK A NICHE

Now that you’re on a number of platforms, you need to decide what topics you plan to cover. The more specific, the better. People like reading about things that interest them, and maintaining a uniform theme throughout all of your sites makes it easy for an audience to identify what you’re all about and whether they’re interested. Pick a topic that you enjoy – something that you wouldn’t mind writing about, speaking about and researching.

  • RESEARCH IT, KNOW IT

Become an expert in your chosen field. No one will seek you out unless you can provide a fresh perspective. Research before you write, and reread before you post. Stay on the lookout for trends or controversies, and always offer your perspective. Be the wise sage of your industry and people won’t ignore you.

  • SHOW PERSONALITY, BUT BE APPROPRIATE

This is where many 20-somethings fail miserably. It’s important to show who you are because that’s the whole point of personal branding. If you’re witty, be witty. If you’re pessimistic, be pessimistic. However, there is a fine line between showing your true colors and over-sharing. I think this is best explained with examples, and Inc.com has a few hilarious ones. Check them out here and then never repeat them. When in doubt, follow the “grandmother” rule  – if you wouldn’t want your sweet, innocent grandmother (or your boss) to read it…don’t post it. It’s as simple as that.

  • INTERACT

Don’t forget that others are trying to establish their brand as well and that everyone appreciates an encouraging comment or two. Follow others in your industry and make friends with those that have established a strong presence as well as other up-and-comers. Insightful comments are always appreciated and usually reciprocated, so don’t forget to scratch your neighbors’ backs.

Do you feel ready to begin crafting your personal brand? Hopefully this clip from personal branding guru, William Arruda, will help.

“Effective branding is based on authenticity…Your brand is based on who you really are – your best self.”

“Do you leave your mark on everything you do?…And if you don’t, how can you?”

-Post by Kalli Bean, Account Executive

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