Building Your Personal Brand Online

If you knew how many hours I spend a week searching for jobs online, you’d probably roll your eyes and laugh. Especially when I let you in on my little secret– I haven’t applied anywhere. (Sorry, Tory, but I promise I save the countless job listings you forward me!)

I want to start applying for jobs and setting up interviews, but I’m nervous about this whole process. I have tons of questions, but more importantly, I feel lost in a vast sea of talented graduates searching for the same entry-level positions as I am.

This leaves me wondering– what can we, those graduating in May 2008, do to differentiate ourselves from our peers AND those who have been in the field for some time?

The answer that I keep hearing is to build Brand “You” using resources that are readily available. I have to give credit to Professor Bob Batchelor for this advice, and I’m thankful that I chose to follow it by launching this blog and interacting in the PR digital network.

The one thing I can say, is that I’m jealous of all the PR departments across the country that offer courses in Digital and Social Media. These topics are growing increasingly important in the communications industry, and employers are expecting the next generation of PR practitioners to be proficient with new online technology.

Because USF does not offer a class on this subject (yet), students in my sequence must be proactive in learning about these tools on their own. Those who take the opportunity to advance their own educations will be more employable post-graduation.

But how can we level ourselves with students in other programs who spend entire semesters learning how to do these things?

My best advice is to use the blogging world to learn. For example, I never would have thought to create a digital portfolio if I had not stumbled across Professor Robert French’s blog and visited some of his students’ web sites. I asked him for advice, and he quickly responded with a detailed e-mail about how to design digital portfolios. This is why I love the blogging community as a PR student– everyone is willing to help, and I know that I will be a more enlightened professional because of it.

(If you’re interested in seeing how my site turned out, here’s the link: www.megmroberts.com. It’s still rough, but you should get the general idea.)

6 thoughts on “Building Your Personal Brand Online

  1. I can’t say I don’t feel special now!

    And of all the people who need to worry… You are NOT one of them!
    The digital portfolio is great. Would you mind forwarding me that email so I can figure it out as well?

  2. Meg:

    USF may not offer the course(s) you desire, but you have done the proactive thing — done it yourself. Good work. I just read your digital portfolio, and it is terrific. Maybe you should teach it at USF…

    Besides, some of the schools now rushing to offer digital and social media may not have the right instructors to do it justice. For example, I am the lone blogger at my university. We now have a new media offering, but I can’t say that it is on the order of what you desire. It treats blogging and other aspects of social media, but it is all new, and I do not know the instructors well yet to make any determinations of how helpful it will be. More on that later.

    Bill Sledzik at Kent State University, a blogger buddy of mine, is doing some innovative things. Check his Toughsledding blog out at http://toughsledding.wordpress.com/

    Again, do what you are doing. And you are correct — any of us out here in the blogosphere will help you all we can.

    Les

  3. Tory – Sure thing, especially if you keep taking me to those amazing networking events! I’ll be blogging about that soon!

    Les – You make a good point. With such a rapidly growing trend that changes almost daily, I can imagine finding qualified professors is difficult. I just hope USF starts to offer an elective that touches on the material sometime soon.

  4. Great work, Meg.

    I have to agree with Les, too. Your proactive efforts already put you ahead of your peers, in my opinion.

    I look forward to seeing where you go with all of this. Here’s my bet … Tory’s right when she says, “And of all the people who need to worry… You are NOT one of them!”

    Initiative will help you stand out among those you’re competing with for jobs. Keep it up!

    Take care.

  5. While your social media may not get you extra marks in school, you will reap the benefits of what you’re doing when you move into the career-finding mode at the end of your studies, and some of your students will be left behind, and wondering why.

    One other thing to keep in mind — this will also help you in the internship search, and that’s something you should chase hard.

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