Personal Branding for Students (and life-long Learners)
Confessions of a Student ... but probably more likely of 95% of the population:
‘I don’t have anything interesting to say. My life isn’t that fancy, I’m just a student. There is nothing special about me. And I have no idea what I should say about me…’
Sounds all too familiar and those kind of questions are constantly popping into your mind?
Ok… then scrap it! Once and forever. Because every single person has a story that is worthwhile sharing as it will resonate with someone else.
I recently had the pleasure to join QUT Students at a career workshop and we were talking about what it takes to get started, stay up to date with all the changes and how to succeed in the ‘real world’.
Given we are moving into a serviced based economy where we will have 3-5 different careers, most of them in roles that don’t exist yet and the success comes down to how well people resonate with us and our approach to deliver a solution/service to them, building a personal brand is more important than ever before.
So far so good.
- But how to start?
- How can I figure out what I can bring to the table?
- What and where to tell?
These were the most common questions which I will answer through an inspiring case study from a student who I had not only the pleasure to hear her story but in a matter of minutes, we could identify her unique selling proposition and what makes her special in the eyes of others.
Being usually our own harshest critics, it can be tricky to see what makes us special and how we stand out from anyone else.
What could you possibly talk about that makes you a ‘specialist’ and would interest others?
Well, you would be surprised how many peers are struggling with exactly the same problems than you but are just one step behind and haven’t found the answer yet to what you already figured out - in your way.
The thing is: being just one step ahead of others is all it takes to make you an expert in their eyes.
You don’t need to have a long track record in something to be considered a thought leader in this field as it would attract a different audience which may not be relevant for you at this stage anyway and doesn’t lead to anything.
Just taking the lead and putting yourself out there demonstrates your confidence already in that matter and this is what attracts other people – your trust in yourself is what makes others trust your abilities too.
And this is already Personal Branding: standing for something that represents us and delivering on a promise that we put out there which benefits and inspires others.
So back to the lovely student who didn’t think there was anything special about her.
Coming up to me, very politely, thanking me for the insights I shared and how excited she is to build her brand herself; but not just yet as there is nothing to talk about; just yet.
This girl, beautifully dressed, well presented, dark colored and having a special aura that captivated me straight away, I thought - this can’t be it!
‘What’s your story?’ I asked.
‘What do you mean?’ she politely questioned me, blushing a bit.
‘Did you grow up in Brisbane, what are you studying, why did you get into – and here it comes – accounting (to my surprise)…’ I replied.
And this was all it needed for her to get started
Growing up in Ghana, moving to Brisbane when she was little due to her dad's job, then to the UK and now back to Brisbane.
So a 20-year old girl who has already lived on 3 continents thinks she doesn’t have anything special about her and something to tell?
I strongly disagree!
So I digged a bit deeper and prompted her to think about the learnings she gained from starting from scratch, without friends or a familiar environment at a very young age. And not just once, but twice.
Having already experienced 3 different cultures, traditions and ways of living clearly makes her an open-minded individual, who is respecting diversity and flexible to adopt to changes and new situations.
But what’s more – I couldn’t get over the fact that she is studying accounting, with that image she represented.
I would have thought she was in fashion or arts, something in creative industries for sure. But by no means… it is accounting.
‘Well, I always wanted to save money to buy nice things and be able to afford the best experiences but for that, you need to know how to spend and save money wisely.’
That was her reply when I still stared at her questioning her subject.
Boom! And there it was!
The immediate connection between who she is, what she does & how she can benefit others!
‘That’s exactly what I want to know’ I replied.
I have zero patience or skills for accounting and book keeping but I want to know how I can afford all the nice things and buy these beautiful dresses and bags without breaking the bank. That’s what I want to learn from you!’
She looked at me and smiled, said that’s exactly what someone else said: that she always knew not only where to get and experience the trendiest things but also how to afford them.
2 different situations. 2 different people. The same experience and association with someone.
With a big smile and a new level of confidence she walked away, clearly with thoughts running a million miles an hour on how to put this brand promise now into practice. The message I got later certainly supported the fact she found her calling and unique selling proposition:
This all happened in a matter of minutes, not days or even hours. The thing is: we all know already what makes us special and how we can contribute to make lives easier for others.
It’s just not always that obvious and sometimes we need a little kick to get it out and help articulate our strengths, our message and ultimately our brand.
So there is no excuse to not get started today!
What is your story, why do you do what you do and what questions or problems do others come to you with?
This is the start of telling your own story to build your brand!
I would love to hear your story!
Students get 50% off discount on Career Coaching Sessions! Just mention STUDENT when booking!