By: Mark Babbitt
This time of year, most students are excited about the fresh start to a new school year. However, many are also anxious about fitting in classes, homework, clubs, Greek life, internships, a job, a social life, networking and yes, building that all-important personal brand everyone is telling them is so important.
The latter issue is a real concern, as students seem to think that to set the foundation of their personal brand, they must start a time consuming blog, spend countless hours on social media, and develop an ultra-creative way to present their personality and passion. They seem to think personal branding is an intimidating, exhausting process that can take 10 or 20 hours per week, or more.
And, fortunately for them and their careers, they are wrong.
To start building a strong personal brand, a student just needs to share, retweet and hit the ‘+1’ button.
I’ve seen many young careerists begin building an amazing brand, in about five, maybe seven, hours per week, simply by sharing excellent content within their career choice – or by retweeting those influencers others respect in their industry. They do not spend hours writing and editing an original blog. They do not sit on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter for hours at a time. And they are not necessarily creative.
They are, however, consistent and constructive:
They consistently seek out the top three or four industry-related posts that interest them – write an eloquent, yet brief, comment in the blog’s Comments section, and then click one (or more) of the ‘Share’ buttons.
To demonstrate their passions and diversity, they find two to three videos, posts or pictures that inspire them, or help them achieve their current goals – and share them on Facebook or Google+.
They create a stream of their Top 10 Twitter followers – and retweet the posts from the last few hours that really interest them, making sure they are also relevant to their followers.
About twice a week, they attend a Twitter chat such as #jobhuntchat, #HFChat or #InternPro; they engage, ask good questions and share their opinions – and they build respect and integrity in the process.
They spend maybe an hour a week doing nothing but helping others – expecting nothing in return.
And all of this effort to build a personal brand takes just a few hours per week.
Everybody can find an extra hour per day… can’t we? And perhaps in the process, knock a couple of other to-do items off the list each week, such as networking and finding a job or internship.
Do yourself a favor: do not over-think this. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t wait for the energy and motivation to start your own blog. Don’t sit around and wait for an “a-ha” moment that leads to that uber-creative way to prove you’re unique. Do not let the anticipated amount of effort intimidate you into inaction
This time, just this once, take the easy way out (while putting yourself well ahead of those who will compete with you in the workplace): retweet, +1 and share your way to an amazing personal brand.