Personal Branding

Anyone who has filled out a CV, written a personal statement or attended an interview – which will apply to almost every student – will have been given the advice to ‘sell themselves.’  This can be difficult when you are unsure of what exactly it is you are meant to be selling to your potential future employer or university.  IBM’s Skills for Success session on Personal Branding demonstrated how you can gain a greater understanding of yourself, in order to present to others what you have to offer clearly and effectively.

To begin the session we were given a few icebreaker activities to work through with the people around us, one of which was to write down 5 positive words about the person sitting beside us, which were going to be used in a later activity.  Next we discussed how to define personal branding, and analysed the personal brands of some well-known figures such as Barack Obama and Madonna.  Ideas which came out of this discussion included:   
  • that a personal brand can be about your image and how you present yourself, but also about what you say, especially on social media; 
  • a brand is made up of a person’s unique qualities and skills;
  • an effective personal brand should create a meaningful and emotional impact on other people.
An interesting question which the leaders of this session brought up is ‘why personally brand?’. The most important answer to this question is that it is not actually a choice - everyone presents an image of themselves to others whether they are aware of it or not.  Therefore it is incredibly useful to take an active role in creating this personal brand, to help others to understand you and your motivations for acting in certain ways, which then enables you to create trusting relationships.

We then moved on to different ways of figuring out our individual personal brands.  One activity involved writing down the top five words we would use to describe ourselves, and the top five words which described how we thought others perceive us.  Then we had to compare both of these to the five words written about us at the beginning by the person sitting beside us.  I found this to be a very enlightening activity (for example I thought others would perceive me as quiet but I was actually described as ‘bubbly’), and one which can easily be done by asking an honest friend what their first impressions of you were.

Finally, we were given three key rules for implementing a personal brand – authenticity, differentiation and consistency.  Underlying these three rules is the idea that your personal brand must be based on your own personal values and vision for the future. This means that it is something which you should be continually developing and reassessing as you learn more about yourself and your relation to the world. 

Kathryn (Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities)
Careers Service

Careers Service

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