So, what exactly is a personal brand? More importantly, how do you effectively build one for yourself in the competitive sports business industry?
“Your personal brand is who you decide to be,” said Zach Swartz, director of creative media for Ohio State football. That’s why constructing your online presence is crucial to cultivating a successful career. Who do you want to be in 15 years? 20 years? 30 years?
Try to visualize that person and reverse engineer, using a personal social strategy. Let’s take a step back, first. When you think of Nike, the NFL, LeBron James, or Serena Williams, you think of the “brand” or influence each of these entities or individuals have on the world.
Personal branding is about growing your influence and is a representation of your career and professional persona. It articulates who you are, what you do, how you work, and what you believe is possible. “Every decision that you make should revolve around your brand identity,” said Swartz. Creating a “personal mission statement” or “brand positioning statement” are great ways to start identifying the who, what, and why of your personal brand.
“Decide what you want to be, and once you decide, you have to consistently act and live up to it,” Swartz said. “It’s so easy to say something, but then do something that goes against it.”
Why Invest in Your Personal Brand?
Did you know that 93 percent of employers said they will search for your social media profiles during the interview process? In the age of social media, employers are constantly evaluating talent to fill their current and future needs. People who have taken the time to build a personal brand become the face or “subject-matter expert” of a certain topic and the go-to source for information and opportunities.
Upward mobility, salary negotiation, and professional credibility are all byproducts of a strong personal brand. Many times, all people need in order to trust someone with more responsibility is a third party validation or social proof.
So, what steps do you need to take? Use these tips to formulate your strategy:
Determine What Your Brand Will Be
“It’s my job to lead our talent acquisition team in attracting, engaging and introducing a diverse talent pool that varies, not only in ethnicity and gender, but also in socioeconomic, cognitive, societal and occupational ways,” said Mary Jo Loparco, director of talent acquisition for Octagon. In an overcrowded world, people want to know who you are and what makes you different. Find your voice by studying the posts of your competitors or people you want to be like. This will help shape your perspective and authentic brand voice.
Find Your Niche
Though each social platform is different, 87 percent of recruiters find LinkedIn most effective when vetting candidates during the hiring process — especially those under 45 (90 percent). Understanding the value and “psychology” of each platform will allow you to maximize the available opportunities, which aren’t always jobs.
“We look for a cultural fit. Is this person going to be able to build internal relationships, are they going to be able to communicate clearly?” said Colleen Scoles, talent acquisition manager for the Philadelphia Eagles. “I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. There are a lot of times that we have an opening we don’t post and purely source for.”
It’s more than presenting a polished profile; it’s engaging with others. Social media has provided the opportunity to share your expertise and join conversations with individuals you otherwise may never meet.
Conduct a Brand Audit
Of course, 72 percent of recruiters view typos negatively. Taking the time to evaluate and review what you are sharing with the world could save you tremendous regret.
“All it takes is that one mistake, and everyone is watching,” said Scoles. But it’s not always negative; going back through your old posts is also a great way to reflect and see how far you’ve come professionally and personally. Swartz knows this personally, as he said, “I had never done any video in college and I was handed a camera and figured it out. All of that stems from an opportunity. But part of opportunity is understanding what opportunity is.”
Your career is a lifestyle choice. If you aren’t curating your future, then someone else is. Building your personal brand is a great way to create options, upward mobility, and demonstrate your value to potential employers, your peers, and yourself.
Build your strategy, and get to work.