Developing a Personal Brand: “Who are you?”

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This deceptively simple question is part of almost every job interview, but it usually sounds like this: “So…tell us a little bit about yourself.” This is usually followed with a smile akin to a spider looking over her prey. But in all seriousness, knowing who you are is an important aspect of your personal brand as a collegiate gigster.

What is a personal brand, you ask? It is who you want people to believe you to be; the impression you want to make and leave behind. Your personal brand is something you curate, meaning you decide what aspect of who you are you show to the world at any given time. It is an aspect of your authentic self. Often your personal brand can be represented as a catch phrase (mine is “Education is a process, not a commodity.”), or a signature color (mine is a royal purple).

How do you decide what your personal brand is? Here are some questions to get started:

  • What is most important to you?
  • What catch phrase do you often say?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • What causes do you believe it?
  • What personal philosophy do you espouse?
  • What metaphor best describes you?
  • What is the first thing that comes to mind to people when they think about you?

Answering these questions will give you a better picture of what informs your brand. As a gigster, your reputation will begin to precede you. What will inform your reputation will be your personal brand. Once you’ve come up with something, be thoughtful in how you construct it and be consistent in how you enact it. We also grow and develop over time, so it is okay that your personal brand changes as you change. This is part of the curating process. For example, if at one point your personal brand included you having a particular hair color (brunette) but then you decided to change it to reddish, that is okay. It is okay because you decided to incorporate it into your personal brand at that point in time.

As you ponder who you are, realize that we will never definitively answer that question. What we can do is decide who we are today, tomorrow and into the near future (about five years out). Knowing who we are adds to our confidence as professionals. This confidence will be seen and felt by those you interact with. As Collegiate Gigsters, we channel our knowledge through our personal brand. It is central to who we are as professionals.