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Personal Branding 101 for College Students

Monday, August 29, 2016

One question we’ve heard loud and clear from college interns last year was about branding. Specifically, how to develop your personal brand during your internship and leverage it to launch your career. Heather P, who leads the largest social media effort for UnitedHealth Group, talks about personal branding and why it is important for students.

What is a personal brand?
The promises, experiences and connection points related to what others can expect of you. It includes both rational and emotional elements. It encompasses personal promises made, kept and broken.

Bottom line: It’s who you are, what you are known for and what you want to be known for. It includes the impression people leave with after interacting with you, either virtually or in person. What can they count on you for… and what can they not?

There can also be an aspirational element to personal branding. What do you want to be known for? You can always evolve yourself over time.

Why is personal branding important?
Branding is a leadership requirement. It is not a self-promotion campaign. It will help you plan your future, develop yourself, know what you’re good at and what you can work on. A personal brand will differentiate yourself from the competition (and your coworkers) and help you launch your early career.

Your brand is value-driven; what you can be counted on by others to consistently deliver upon. A lot of people think that your brand is all about you. It’s really about what you can give-and-take to the people around you.

Quick exercise to develop your personal brand
Start by asking yourself these important questions.

Question 1: What are three qualities that stand out about me?
Question 2: What can people count on you for?
Question 3: What can people NOT count on me for?
Question 4: Is there anything I’m interested in changing about the above?

Once you’ve had time to reflect, go and ask these same questions of a good friend, someone you’ve worked with (intern, classmate) and an “anti-sponsor”. Why would you do that? Because managing your personal brand is managing your brand with everybody, not just people who like you.
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