Congratulations! You’ve just accepted an internship offer and you start in a few months. As the start date approaches, you’re likely thinking about how to stand out as an intern or co-op student and how to show your employer that you are a great fit for the industry that you’ll be working in. If this feels overwhelming, a great place to start is by focusing on building your personal brand.
So, what is a personal brand? Quite simply, your personal brand is what people are saying about you or thinking about you when you aren’t in the room. Whether it be through demonstrating certain skills, experiences, or your personality traits, it is important to determine how you want to be seen and what you want to be known for. Building an attractive personal brand is essential when creating a name for and differentiating yourself in your respective industry or profession. Developing one doesn’t have any finite rules, but a good place to start is by understanding your strengths, skills, values, and your communication style, and how you utilize them in your day-to-day. Over time, these personal elements and the way you engage with others will form your personal brand.
Here are 8 tips to help you identify, understand, and build your personal brand:
1. Be yourself: Often, we tend to act in ways that we believe others want us to. There are many reasons why you stood out to your employer during the application process. Whatever your strengths are, stick to them! Diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces are often higher performing, so be yourself and amplify who you are. To bring the most authentic version of yourself into your personal brand, ask yourself the following two questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I want the world to know about me?
2. Say yes to opportunities (and challenges): In today’s world, there are multiple paths you can take to reach your career goals. This means that there are plenty of opportunities waiting to be taken to reach your highest potential! Think about where you want to be in a few years and raise your hand to be involved in projects/initiatives that support your desired outcome. Take on challenges that will differentiate you from others and help you to stand out. How you handle opportunities or challenges says a lot about you and can help you identify key pieces of your personal brand (i.e. character traits, strengths, etc.).
3. Strengthen your “weak ties”: Weak ties are people we have briefly met or are connected to but don’t know well. Embrace the art of internal networking with these colleagues or connections. Booking a (virtual) coffee chat is a great way to get your name out there and begin to effectively build your personal brand with others. Often it’s not about the quantity of connections, but the quality of connections you make, so whether you are networking informally or formally, choose a medium that best suits you, and don’t be afraid to spark a conversation!
4. Ask thought-provoking questions and add value at every meeting you attend: Try to avoid always agreeing with ideas; it’s far too easy to be forgotten when you’re not providing value. The results of ‘speaking up’ will go a long way when building your reputation. When you have a chance to ask questions, make sure you ask something thought-provoking and unique that allows you to verbally engage in meetings/events/socials. The airtime you get should not go unnoticed.
5. Recognize your core values: Understanding your core values is one of the fundamental steps to determining how you want to interact with colleagues, and how you’d like individuals to perceive you. Being genuine in your actions and words will help you connect with people whose values align with your own and help you build authentic relationships in the workplace.
6. Help your colleagues and provide value where you can: Offering your skills to those in need is one way of promoting yourself – think of ways to utilize your strengths and go above and beyond your day-to-day role. By lending a helping hand, colleagues will recognize and recommend you for similar tasks in the future. This humble gesture can help on your road to success whether it’s landing a full-time position, building a network, or increasing visibility in an organization.
7. Follow a successful leader: If you think about some of the most influential people in the workplace, you may notice that their story might have started by “trial and error” and yours may too! Look for a leader whose approach and attitude resonates with you and take note of their personal brand. The point is not to mimic them – remember the most important part of a personal brand is to be authentic! However, this may help you understand what skills, communication style, etc. resonates well within your industry or area of expertise.
8. Fail smart, learn fast: Failure is a scary word, but failing can help you understand opportunities for improvement. It’s only human nature to want to avoid failure; however, in order to get to a point of success, you must be willing to take bold chances! Building an attractive personal brand doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and learn more about yourself – this will only help you create a more authentic and powerful personal brand!
Building your personal brand shouldn’t daunting, it should be a fun part of your journey towards a fulfilling career! Just remember to be genuine, continue to learn about yourself, and enjoy the process!
Written By: Disha Patel, Campus Recruitment and Program Manager.
For more helpful career advice, make sure to visit our Life at Scotiabank blog page here!