I was asked recently about what I thought would be important skills for business school graduates entering the professional workforce. Of course business acumen, hard work and creativity are all essential in differentiating yourself, but one topic that I thought would be important to touch on is personal branding. This is essentially looking at yourself as a brand, and thinking about how you are positioning yourself in the market, the world and the community.

Below are some quick thoughts on different topics related to your personal brand.

Social Media
Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read. Avoid being polarizing because alienating half of your friends is not a place a brand would go. This doesn’t mean you can’t speak your mind, just tread carefully. Employers & colleagues are watching, listening and judging – you don’t want an errant post or picture define you. Be positive, the world has enough negativity.

Be someone who is known for giving. Give your time to help those who need your help. Connect people who would benefit from knowing each other; this costs nearly nothing to you but could mean the world to them. The secret is that the Givers are the ones that get the most, not the Takers – and your reputation will shine.

You will on occasion receive an e-mail or message that has a nasty tone. Do yourself a favor and pick up the phone to call the person, and to resolve it. Firing off e-mails back and forth in a negative tone is never productive. People are more likely to diffuse and resolve a situation over the phone, and in a quicker manner. Remember, e-mails can be forwarded, threads can be read and you want to be someone who is about the fray.

I’m not one to speak much about attire, but when I started Blezoo I used to go to networking meetings in a suit. I looked professional, but a bit uptight. A friend of mine said, “You are the creative marketing guy, not a corporate shark, loosen up.”. They were right. You need to look however you are positioning your personal brand. Look the part.

LinkedIn / Resumes
Your LinkedIn & resume should be a ‘living document’. They should be constantly updated, evolved and examined. There are so many ways you can differentiate yourself within these documents in order to help potential employers get a better sense of who you are as a person. Use them to show how dynamic & well-rounded you are.

Just like promotional products, logos, websites, corporate branded apparel are all ways to position your company’s brand, there are a lot of ways that we can help define and evolve our personal brand. After all, companies are comprised of people – and the best way to reflect positively on your employer, or catch their attention, is to have a strong personal brand.

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