It’s Never Too Early to Start Building A Personal Brand

There’s a lot of buzz around the idea of building a personal brand. What exactly is it and when do you need to start crafting one?

Personal Branding is the idea of self-packaging an individual’s talents and attributes in a way that tells a story. A strong personal brand should highlight points of uniqueness—a TWIST—in order to get positive attention from universities (and eventually hirers).

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It’s never too early to begin building a personal brand. I speak to middle, high school and college students, and this is something that I stress to all of them. Getting a great job is tough. But in order to increase their chances, they need to get a great education. There are more students than ever applying for the same number of university seats. Many of the college application essay questions are about trying to understand each student’s personal brand and their unique TWIST.

Sometimes we are so close to our own personal narratives that we don’t even see our unique TWISTS, so it’s important for students to get input from friends, teachers, coaches, summer job employers—anyone who knows them best.

Parents also have an important role in helping their children (as early as their tweens) begin to form their personal brand narratives. The key here is focus. Don’t limit your child’s interests (they don’t have to be an athlete and nothing else) but do help them go deep into areas they are passionate about and also help them package seemingly divergent interests into a cohesive story.

I was recently advising a high school junior about his college entrance essay. He is an interesting young man who loves creativity and performing in plays and is also very strong at math. He wants to pursue a career in business. We talked about how these two different areas can actually be combined to make him an attractive candidate for an undergraduate business degree. His improvisational skills, and ability to step into the skin of a character for a play will actually help him be a stronger marketer. He has the ability to think on his feet (great for client presentations) and understand character motivations (helpful for studying consumer behavior). He doesn’t have to choose between presenting himself as right-brained OR left-brained. His unique TWIST is that he can be a creative problem solver.

It’s never too early to identify, build and grow your personal TWIST.

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