Before I start, I would just like to thank Dan, Melissa, Chelsea and all of you for welcoming me into the Student Branding Community. Student branding is a major passion of mine and I look forward to sharing insights and conversation with all of you.
Having just been a member and leader of many student communities over the past several years through my undergraduate studies and afterwards, I have been involved in a great deal of invigorating conversations with students in branding, PR, social media, and marketing almost on a daily basis.
While many of these discussions are thoughtful and informative, I sometimes find that opinions blend together and the voices of these talented students start to form as one. A single voice is great in causes and movements such as Occupy Wall Street, but in discussions, and debates–not so much.
I think that with the open networks that we communicate on, students are very mindful of their public perception and how experienced professionals view them and rightfully so. But with this, I think students are cautious and hesitant to discuss and decide to agree for the sake of building relationships.
Maintaining relationships is a great thing and essential to a student’s growth but here are couple tips for a student to set themselves apart from the pack while building those relationships and improving their public perception.
Own Your Voice
I’m not saying a simple +1 or “Agree!” is totally off limits, but it gets old fast. Even if you agree with someone’s statement or opinion, I’m sure you have your own opinion or explanation on the matter. Don’t restrict yourself to simple thoughts. Even in agreement, let that person and your community why you agree.
If you don’t agree, respectfully voice that stance. You don’t have to be snarky or condescending, but anyone in social media understands (or should) that their public opinions are open to debate and questioning. That’s one of the beautiful things about these platforms, it gives us an opportunity to collaborate and discuss in order to enlighten new conclusions and answers. These benefits can’t be found without owning your voice and opinion.
Create a new conversation
In Facebook groups and Twitter chats, students have a great chance to join vibrant discussions and connect with new people. However, certain answer threads or questions get stale after so many people agree on the same opinion. Even if you agree with the majority, there is still a chance for you to stand out.
Create a new conversation or ask a new, related question! This will migrate the conversation to you and allow reviving opinions while showing that you are capable of thinking creatively and outside of the box. I can tell you right now, Steve Jobs never accepted a discussion at face value–there’s no reason why you should automatically do so either.
Stray from the student mentality
While we are all students in the new social atmosphere, you cannot retain the student mentality if you hope to stand out from the pack. Employers may like good students but they look to hire those who can think outside the classroom. You have to be able to present yourself as a young professional because if you don’t create that perception, potential employers can’t do it for you.
Ultimately you have to distinguish your voice in the professional community to create your personal brand that is unique among your friends, students, and competition. Saying you agree all the time may make a friend or two, but will other’s thoughts and ideas define who you are?
Harrison is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. As evidenced through his previous projects, Harrison has a passion for all things social media, philanthropy, and finding new ways for students to understand the power of a brand. Before moving to New York and while still a student at Temple University, Harrison founded the PR/Social Media consulting firm, Kratz PR as well as Engage TV and the #PRStudCast podcast. Feel free to connect with him to discuss community, social good, branding, or the Philadelphia Phillies on Twitter, @KratzPR or Linkedin.