Personal Marketing 101: How to Build a Standout Personal Brand

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Regardless of whether you’re pursuing your MBA, everyone has a personal brand. It’s what sets you apart from the crowd and represents your first impression to the world. Your brand tells the story of who you are and what your goals are. It’s what catches the eye of the admissions board and makes you unforgettable in interviews.

We talked to Ashley Feldhues, assistant director of Graduate Career Services, to find out why personal branding matters and how MBA students can build a knockout personal brand.

Do I really need a brand?

Building your personal brand goes beyond getting into B-school. It also comes into play when you’re applying for a job. “Establishing your personal brand will help you find the right fit when it comes to both schools and employers,” says Feldhues. “Communicating how your personal brand aligns will help schools and companies see your value and help you be memorable for the right reasons.”

What do I include?

Your personal brand should include:

Credentials — Coursework, training and certifications that support the concentration you’ll pursue in business school. Try and create a meaningful picture of what you hope to accomplish by obtaining an advanced degree.

Experience — Highlight professional experience that is relevant to your goal industry or career. Be specific, though. Speak to actions you took that made a measurable difference in your company’s performance or the efficiency with which certain tasks or processes were executed.

Activities — Including extracurricular or volunteer activities can be helpful, but be sure to carefully explain what transferrable leadership or teamwork skills you’ve gained through participation.

Differentiators — If a potential employer had your resume and that of another candidate side by side, what would make yours stand out? There are a lot of smart, qualified, experienced people out there, so you have to decide what it is you need to communicate about yourself that sets you apart from the pack. It’s your personal brand narrative, the series of events that has brought you to this point, that matters as much as your credentials or your GPA.

Do my social profiles really matter?

“The story of your brand should come through in every place a school can learn about you,” Feldhues says. “This includes online profiles, resumes and essay answers. Most importantly, consider what others will say about you when it comes to reference checks.”

Social media plays an important role in personal branding and can either help or hurt your case. Google yourself to find out what information others will see when admissions teams or potential employers search for you online — because they will. Give your social profiles a good scrub to delete any posts, photos or videos that you wouldn’t want them to see. Resources such as Brand Yourself and the Clear app can help.

“Leverage the social media outlets that support your brand, including LinkedIn or a personal website. These will consistently come up within the first few search results. Adjust the privacy settings on your other social media profiles and consider changing your display name if your profiles don’t support your public brand.”

To sum it up…

  • Audit your existing online presence to be sure you are spreading a consistent message.
  • Create any new content you know you’ll need, such as a resume, bio, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and personal website. As a Neeley MBA, you’ll receive plenty of resources and personal coaching on these materials.
  • Research companies and industries of interest to find out the specific skill set and traits they’re seeking. If you’re missing critical components, target an MBA program that will help you fill in those gaps.
  • Consistency is key. From your personal marketing message to how your name is displayed online, check and recheck your resume, website, social profiles, email signatures, etc., to be sure your message is clear and you can be easily found.

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program. 

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