Personal branding seminar shares how to build online persona

By Sade Cox

Are you using social media just to connect with friends? If so, you are missing out on an opportunity to brand yourself. The Personal Branding 101 seminar outlined the tricks of the trade for creating a compelling identity online.

As a marketing communications strategist in the Office of University Relations at Kean University, Danielle Ford shares ten years of public relations and marketing experience.

Ford gave a presentation on the secrets to personal branding as future employees to students at Kean University, where she discussed how to be self-aware by evaluating your strengths, assets, and how you can communicate these effectively.

“The two keys to crafting a personal branding identity are really consistency and authenticity and how you can achieve that,” said Ford.

Ford said the American Marketing Association (AMA) defines branding as “something that delivers the message clearly, confirms your credibility, connects your target prospects emotionally, motivates a buyer, and concretes user loyalty.”

To succeed in branding you must  understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.

“Branding is a tool used to meet others,” Ford said, “creating a public persona that students are using for job seeking is important to be in tune with the needs of others.

Have you ever gone to a job interview and not researched the company?

Ford discovered that most potential employers will ask you to give a reason why you want to work for the company you are applying to. Students should research the company they want to work for to know its background. Job seekers need to know why they want to work for the company.

“If you don’t have a compelling answer for that question, that’s already very off-putting for your audience,” said Ford.

The key to having a personal and effective brand is the belief you care about a company’s concerns and needs. As you go for a job interview, you can’t only express what you need and want from the company. It’s not engaging to your potential employer. Your personal brand should promote interest in the future of the company you want to work for.

Before students market or brand themselves on social media, first students need to be informed of the dos and don’ts of personal branding through social media. Ford discussed negative self-destruction on social media, etiquettes of appropriate emailing and email addresses, using professional photos for social networks, and creating digital resumes online.

When it comes to social media and personal branding, it’s all about shaping perceptions of a job candidate.

“We are living in an age where employers will inevitably google you,” said Ford.

Students should take in to consideration what their employer may find out about them from their social media profiles. Students have to be cautious with what they post and write on social media publicly. Companies may not employ job seekers who display irresponsible, or inappropriate, activity on their social media.

“Employers don’t want to see something plastic,” said Ford.

Ford concluded the presentation with personal branding tips, which included building your own networks, connections, and brand.

Social media can be used professionally, and profiles should be public with professional-looking photos. Students should have personal social networks for friendly use and a professional social network. When students have a professional social media profile, it establishes an authoritative voice while connecting with peers and professors.

She recommends students to use a Google email account as their professional email address. Students should have a professional email account with their first and last name. No Yahoo or AOL email accounts, because these accounts are outdated. Students should develop a professional email signature with their job title and company’s logo. She advises students to create a blog to post their visual work online.

“LinkedIn is the most professional social media site,” said Ford. A LinkedIn account acts as a digital resume, while keeping all your professional work and contacts online.

Personal branding generates a digital portfolio of students’ academic and professional achievements and accomplishments.

“March Toward Success” is a series of informative seminars and workshops providing effective tools for students pursing their careers. The Office of Student Government, College of Business & Public Management, Office of Career Development & Advancement, The Writing Center, and Kean XChange sponsored the “March Toward Success” initiative, which started March 4.

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