The world lost somewhere between 50,000 to 200,000 lives in Haiti due to the 7.0 earthquake earlier this week.
Can you even imagine? Can you imagine sitting at school or eating at your dining table at home, and all of a sudden, something unexpected and unavoidable literally shakes your whole world?
At studentbranding.com, one of our main goals is to help high school, college, and grad school students effectively develop and promote their personal brands. Much of the information we share is purposefully specific – if you are looking for detailed advice on setting up your Twitter account, building your personal brand in the classroom, or using Facebook to land an internship, you can find it here.
But, building a personal brand isn’t just about perfecting your Facebook profile, winning over more Twitter followers, or getting your dream job. At the root of it all, personal branding is about discovering who you are, so that you can effectively convey who you are to others.
When I first heard about Haiti and began seeing the immediate action that individuals and organizations alike were taking to help relief efforts in whatever way they could, I could not help but think about how it relates to personal branding. Why? Because at the end of the day, your brand isn’t just what you write or say – above all else, your brand is based on what you do.
A good friend of mine organized a fundraiser at his store in New York City, Fashion Label Operations NY, to raise money for Haiti relief efforts. When I think about him, there are words that immediately come to mind: thoughtful, worldly, caring, entrepreneurial, doer, influencer. To me, his personal brand is all of those things- not because he talked about throwing a fundraiser, but because he did whatever he could to make it happen, and helped hundreds of people in the process.
My friend Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise, began building this successful non-profit organization to build schools in developing nations all over the world at the age of 25. He is living proof that when you have an amazing dream and go about making it happen with a refusal to fail, the impossible becomes possible.
Now, Pencils of Promise is in the running to win $1 million through Chase Community giving. And with that $1 million, they are pledging to build over 50 schools to serve 75,000 future students, as well as donating $100,000 to youth projects in Haiti. With the click of a button (Vote now!), you become part of this amazing movement- and what does that say about your personal brand?
It says that you see the bigger picture. You know the only way for each of us to really win is if no one loses. You stand up for causes you believe in. You see possibilities instead of problems. And really think about it for a minute – what professor wouldn’t want a student like that in his or her class? What future employer wouldn’t want to hire someone with all of these traits?
Personal branding isn’t just about what you write down on a piece of paper. Your brand is who you are. Your brand is comprised of the seemingly small choices you make every day- like smiling at a stranger, clicking a button to vote for a great cause, throwing a fundraising party, or taking the time to say thank you to another person. You are what you do, everyday, in every way.
So who are you?
What actions do you take every day?
How do those actions reflect your personal brand?
Get to the bottom of who you want to be throughout your life for others. Then, do whatever it takes to be that person. The profound result of living from your center and doing the things that matter most to you? Your personal brand will build itself.
Melissa is the Editor-in-Chief of studentbranding.com. She is also an Assistant Brand Manager at Time Inc. Home Entertainment, where she manages brand extension projects for numerous publications including: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, People, and Entertainment Weekly. Melissa majored in Psychology at Hamilton College and currently resides in New York City. To find out more, read her blog, follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.