Contributed By Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer of the BeenVerified.com
Graduating from college this year? This can definitely be a daunting time for many, but there are so many ways to prepare for success in the industry you’ve worked so hard to be a part of. From building your personal brand (which is essential in the work world) to knowing how to effectively network, below are must-know tips to help you succeed once you get your diploma and enter the “real world”.
Build Your Personal Brand
We all have a personal brand whether we are aware of it or not. Your personal brand is how the world views you, so it’s important that your personal brand be a strong, capable one that best reflects your true self—especially when it comes to the business world. It is important for you to establish your own brand and cultivate it rather than let it be defined on your behalf. Your personal brand is made up of your beliefs and your strengths. Think of it as your personal core values.
If you do a good job of branding and marketing yourself, people will begin to identify you with a certain area of expertise, subject matter, and the general qualities you want linked to your name. Once you determine the way in which you want your brand to be received, you can start to be more strategic about your personal brand.
Here are some of the areas that are important in building a personal brand and a few tips to help you build yours:
- Be true to yourself and your word. Your brand should reflect who you really are—your authentic self. Skip the falsehoods or who you want people to think you are, especially in the digital age. You don’t want there to be a big discrepancy between who you are online and who you are in real life. Today, people want to connect and they want to connect with other genuine people. And remember that actions speak louder than words to the people in your circle of influence, so keep your word and follow through with promises you make.
- Know how to introduce yourself. Prepare a 30-second speech to introduce yourself to others. Think through the key things you want people to know about you and practice it so it comes easily. When networking, hit the high points of your story with a concise presentation. You want their take away to be the most important highlights about you and how you want them to remember you.
- Have an online presence. Set up a personal website that you can direct people to, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be a simple site with your resume, links to your social platforms, a bio with photo, and some of your college achievements. Having your own site gives you a platform to build your brand from. It will also help rank your name on the search engines. You can always expand the information on the website with time.
- Google yourself and setup alerts for your name on a regular basis. Know what is being said about you online. It’s not a bad idea to run a background check on yourself too to make sure your record is exactly what you think it is. Be purposeful and thoughtful on anything you share with others.
- Use social media as your platform. Social media is ideal for giving people a platform to share their personal brand, as long as it’s done consciously and consistently. Always reread and proof before you post, use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling, and use discretion when sharing photos. It’s best to steer clear of controversy or emotional topics in general and certainly if it could discredit you personally. This includes reacting to other people’s posts as well as the ones you share. Have your brand identity statement in front of you when posting and ask yourself if the post you are about to publish contributes to that identity. If handled well, social media is a great way to sell yourself!
Once you’ve established your own personal brand, it’s time to share it with the world. Let the world know who you are, what your talents and core values are, and what you have to offer. The road to unfulfilled career dreams and disappointment is littered with lists, dreams, and goals never shared with anyone. So it’s time to get your personal brand out there.
Start Networking & Connecting With Professionals In Your Field Early
It is never too early to start networking and connecting with people who may be able to help or influence your career. So set up professional profiles such as LinkedIn and any other site that is geared toward work and business. Reach out to professionals you know or want to. Also, remember that other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like will be viewable by potential employers so keep that in mind with everything you post. What might be funny or appropriate for college you may regret once you move on. It is never too early to be thinking about your career.
Practice Makes Perfect—Find Opportunities to Refine Your Communicative Skills
College is the perfect place to hone skills and work on things that scare you. Maybe your public speaking skills are shaky. Maybe you don’t know how to put together a presentation. Heck, maybe you have never been on an interview. College is a great place to learn these things. Join a public speaking group and utilize the services of your career services office. Reach out to your community for services and clubs that can help train you. Trust this–it is much easier to acquire and perfect these skills while in the relative comfort of college than to be under the gun in a real work environment.
Look for seminars and career development lectures. Take all of them because most of them will allow students to attend for free or for a reduced fee. These are great opportunities because they not only teach something but they give valuable opportunities to network with people that are in the work world and contacts are very important indeed.
Learn how to small talk and work a room. Chances are that you will need to attend many lunch and evening functions for companies that you wish to work for or for available internships. The more comfortable you are talking to people and introducing yourself the more success you may have with landing the job of your dreams. If you are a shy person, this can be a particularly daunting task but it will serve you well if you pick up a few tips from books or particularly social friends.
Seek Out & Apply for Internships and Jobs Early
Don’t delay. Things move quickly and there are always people that seem to be ahead of the game. These people are your competition, so don’t wait. Find out about internships early. Apply when the job or internship opens. Make sure that you have all of your documents ready and polished so you can send them when needed and if something just pops up. The documents you should have ready at a minimum are a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and references. You may need a writing sample or other more specific document but at a minimum have these four polished, up to date, and ready to go.
Justin Lavelle is Chief Communications Officer at BeenVerified (the leading source of online background checks and contact information), where he often writes about topics like credit card use and scams, financial fraud, and other personal finance advice. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, property records and criminal records in a way that’s fast, easy and affordable. https://www.beenverified.com/.