What you do in your classes can help you create and establish your personal brand. Remember, your brand is your value- what you can do uniquely well to help others address issues or solve problems that matter to them.
Here are some things that you can do while you are still in school that will help your brand:
- Learn: Learning should transform you and help you to become a different and better person, more valuable and more able to help others with things that matter to them.
- Complete the class: Earn as good a grade as possible, but get the class under your belt and continue to make progress toward completing your degree. Your degree is an important part of your brand because it helps certify the claims you make about your value.
- Meet people and network: One of the most valuable things about a college education is the opportunities you have to meet talented and successful people in your classes. These people will go on to have great jobs at successful companies or start their own businesses, and they might be able to help you someday find a good job or start a business of your own – in turn, you might be able to help them as well.
- Earn the respect and recommendation of your instructor: Letters of recommendation are often essential in order to get a good job or move on to higher levels of education. When someone recommends you, they are attaching their brand to your brand, and they will only do that for people that they know will enhance- not tarnish- their reputation. In my next blog post, I’ll give you some tips on how to earn the recommendation of your instructor.
- Help other people in the class: If there are people in your classes that are self-responsible yet still struggling to make friends or having a hard time with the coursework, take the initiative to reach out and offer a helping hand. Caring about and helping other people is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It is a critical leadership skill- one that for many of us takes time to develop. So, practice this principle while you are still in school.
Of these five things that I have suggested, which one should be your top priority? Pay attention to your priorities, because your priorities drive your behavior and your behavior- more than anything else- establishes your brand.
I think your top priority should be to learn, so that you can become a different and better person than you are today. If you focus on learning how to learn, you will develop a skill that will keep you at the top of your game for the rest of your career and your life. The things you are learning today have a short shelf-life, so you need to foster the ability to continually improve and even re-invent your value over time.
Don’t get caught up just chasing a grade. I have students every semester that get so focused on the grade they want to earn that believe it or not, they forget to learn and improve along the way. Don’t make that mistake.
Focus intently on becoming a better you and everything else will fall into place.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.