Several weeks ago, I invited you to show me your personal brand. My hope was to be able to showcase real students or former students that are doing a good job with personal branding. That invitation is still open, so if you have what you think is an impressive personal brand, get in touch with me.
This week I am very glad to showcase the personal brand of Tara Olson. In my opinion, Tara is off to a very impressive start with personal branding. Here is a one-stop link to Tara’s online brand. I hope you will take the time to read my interview with Tara below as she offers some exceptional advice.
1. This is The Student Branding Blog, so tell us something about your background as a student and then bring us up-to-date on what you are doing now.
I’m a senior advertising major at the University of St. Paul, MN. I knew at a young age that I wanted to work in advertising and have made it my passion ever since. While I love my University and have had some truly amazing professors, the fact of the matter is my education is highly lacking in relevance for today’s market.
Social media, interactive marketing, etc. are subjects which only garner a paragraph in a text book, when they are extremely important subjects that deserve classes of their own. To supplement this lull in my education I joined professional organizations and began attending as many industry events as possible.
After four internships and countless hours of networking, seminars and informational interviews, I am happy to say I am now exactly where I want to be. I graduate this May and just began working on social media and digital communities for a local advertising agency.
Virtually every student I know, from nursing to PR, would agree with me in that, though necessary, a college education does not prepare oneself well enough for the professional world. For me this is where personal branding stepped. By differentiating yourself from your peers and developing your own unique identity you are that much more likely to land a job.
2. How and why did you get started with personal branding?
My turning point in personal branding came two years ago at an annual advertising event, the Creative Ad Summit. I listened to Best Buy CMO Barry Judge give an exceptional presentation on twitter. That same day I signed up. All of my personal branding hence forth has derived from my twitter persona – futureadexec. I wish I could say I had planned it but the truth is my name “TaraOlson” was not available on twitter and futureadexec was what I came up with instead. Futureadexec has ended up working well for me across social media platforms because it easily identifies what my professional goals are, to become an advertising executive.
In truth, my personal branding wasn’t something I planned, it just happened. From Twitter I branched out to LinkedIn, Extendr and created a WordPress blog, Musings of a Future Ad Exec.
3. How would you describe your personal brand? Which online platforms have been the most effective for you in spreading the word about your brand?
I would describe my personal brand as authentic. I don’t have a secret formula but I try to add my somewhat outspoken personality to everything I do. I don’t tweet or blog about just advertising, I talk about everything from shoes to travel as well.
Twitter has been the most effective tool for spreading my brand but I originally didn’t think of it that way. I used twitter as an educational tool, a way to listen, learn and connect, but it has evolved into my personal brand. I would attend events and people would say, “You’re futureadexec, I follow you on twitter.” It opened doors for me by giving me an identity other than just a student trying to get a job.
Besides twitter, my blog has been a useful tool to show people who I am. Branding is not just about online personas however. That is where LinkedIn has been useful. Every person I meet I connect with on LinkedIn. It is the most professional tool available to maintain connections.
4. What personal branding advice do you have for students?
Try and be as consistent as possible across platforms. Pick keywords that describe you and use them on every platform. For example, every bio you will read about me says I am passionate about creative problem solving and strategic communications.
Don’t be afraid to dive into social media but do your research first. Every online community has its own unwritten rules and appropriate way of communicating. If you’re unsure what to say, spend time listening.
Don’t just rely on the Internet to brand yourself. While the web is a great way to showcase who you are, the best way to represent your brand is in real life. Join professional organizations, attend events and meet people. Be curious and ask for knowledge. Informational interviews are a great way to do this. People will be more impressed than you think!
Don’t think because you are a student you don’t have anything to bring to the table, you do. Professionals are eager to hear what young up and comers think and are searching for the person who stands out from the crowd. If starting a blog, being on twitter or creating YouTube videos is going to make you stand out in your industry than do it!
If you are maintaining multiple social media platforms Extendr is a great tool. Extendr allows you to have one URL where you can display links to all your online content, for free.
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.