7 Steps to Build Your Brand
Once you understand how important personal branding is, your next move is to put theory into practice. But how? We asked Devin Shoemaker, a graduate of both Manatee School for the Arts (Class of ’10) and UCF (Class of ’13), to lay it out for us.
Shoemaker started her own brand while in college. She says, “What I learned in my first year was that my personality, my working style, my sense of humor, my open mind, and my leadership skills were not being used in their best way. I shifted to a different major, found classes that excited me, and uncovered leadership opportunities that led me directly to internships and my first job.”
Now a successful marketing and business development specialist, Shoemaker says, “In the business world, personal brand is everything. Opportunities will come to you if you have a strong, authentic brand.”
Want to get the ball rolling? Follow Shoemaker’s seven simple steps.
1. Do a self-inventory.
• Write down 5 things you like to do: interests, activities, and hobbies.
• Ask yourself: What motivates me? What are my strengths? What are my areas of opportunity?
• Ask friends and family for words that describe you.
2. Think “big picture.”
• Write down 3 things you want to be known for in the future — not like your major, but more like, do you want to be a good teammate? A reliable friend? Do you want to be a leader? A helper?
3. Define your audience.
• Figure out whom you want to share your personal brand with: potential colleges? Friends? Recruiters? Potential employers? Scholarship committees?
• This will help you select how to present your brand and which aspects of your personality and skills you should emphasize. Is it your work ethic? Your charm? Your analytical mind? Your athleticism?
4. Be curious.
• Actively seek to learn more about people whom you admire and want to emulate.
• Ask smart people questions! Ask, “How did you get to where you are?” “What do you think sets you apart?” “How has your brand evolved?”
5. Prepare an “elevator pitch.”
• Spend 10 minutes writing down a 30-second “elevator pitch.” If you were on an elevator with someone and they said, “So, tell me about yourself,” what would you say?
6. Get to know people.
• “Networking” is a scary word, but it doesn’t need to be formal and stuffy. Go for coffee; attend office hours; share walk across campus.
• If you show interest in learning about people, they will reciprocate.
• Each person you meet may eventually help you find your way — with a job, an internship, or even a friendship.
7. Be you.
• The best thing about a personal brand is that it’s yours. You get to decide who you are and how you want to share that with the world.
• Your personal brand will likely grow as you do, so don’t worry about figuring it all out now. What feels right to you today is a good place to start.