5 Personal Branding Tools for College Students

Your personal brand is established and nurtured by you, whether online or offline. Start by reflecting on what is most important to you and your future. Be able to effectively share your passions, specialties and values in various ways. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all happening online. Once you start networking or get that interview, your handshake and elevator pitch also have an impact on how people perceive you. Here are 5 tools to help you to establish your personal brand:

5 Personal Branding Tools for College Students

Create a powerful online presence.

Young people can overcome a negative perception about their age and experience with effective use of websites and social media. Bunee Tomlinson, a sophomore at Oklahoma City Community College and a freelance filmmaker, developed his keen interest in film and video production from an early age. Besides participating in film festivals and competitions, he began working as an intern in high school while starting his own freelance business. Bunee developed his own website (bunee.tv) which demonstrates his capabilities and film projects. On LinkedIn, Bunee chose “Freelance Filmmaker” as his title instead of “student”. With the website and LinkedIn profile, Bunee’s personal brand projects energy, confidence and creativity but not his young age.

Trudy Steinfeld, Assistant Vice President and Executive Director of Career Services at New York University, says “It often makes sense for a student to create a social resume. Many NYU students have their own website that is linked to their social media sites. Your personal website says who you are in a very interesting way. It might include video, photos and examples of other types of projects or work. Make sure it’s professional. Your social resume should contain relevant keywords. Also, link it to all your other social sites that are professional. If you have personal information make sure to use the privacy settings for each site. ”

Create a customized infographic.

Infographics are extremely popular so why not use one for your resume? Joseph Catrino, Assistant Dean of Career Services at Quinnipiac University, says “Infographic resumes can be highly effective. Pull out five things from the job description that match your talents and make an infographic. Depending on the industry, this can be very impressive for a student to submit to a hiring manager. They will probably still need a traditional resume for HR or recruiting staff.”

Be memorable with Business cards.

Business cards are an important tool for college students. It’s a great way to support your networking activity and become memorable. Use standard fonts with a high quality paper if you can afford it. You can decide the most important information to project. At the minimum, you will want your full name, school, major, class year, objective and contact information. Having your social media addresses is a great idea too.

On the back you can add any of the following: Top skills related to your goals; accomplishments related to your goals; impressive courses related to your goals; relevant keyword phrases or mission statement related to your personal branding; past internship companies or other work experiences.

Business Card Sample: (Front)

Andy Sample
University of ABC Class of 2017 Major: English
Objective: Public relations career
Desired Location: NYC for summer of 2015
Phone 555-555-5555
Email address @andysample ( and LinkedIn URL)

Students can often make their own cards at school. Ask your Career Services office. There are also many inexpensive online options. Some of the major office retailers will also create and print business cards at little cost.

Network with a Confident Handshake.

First impressions really do matter. According to Michael True, author of InternQube: Professional Skills for the Workplace, the handshake is a big component of the first impression. Michael’s advice: “After the initial visual impression of your appearance, you will probably be judged on your handshake. There are a few different kinds.

  • The Limp Fish-The hand is extremely weak. The impression one receives is that you lack confidence.
  • The Bone Crusher-grabbing a person’s hand and squeezing hard. The impression is you are overconfident and aggressive.
  • The Firm Hand-not too strong, but not weak-placing the web ( between your thumb and forefinger) of your right hand into the web of the other person’s right hand. Confidence and poise are the good impressions you will leave.”

Be Ready with Your Elevator Pitch

Suppose you enter an elevator with an executive from one of your top 3 wish list companies. You need to be ready to immediately make a positive impression and take advantage of the situation. You may only have 30-60 seconds. If the elevator analogy doesn’t work for you, consider that you could be anywhere and need a quick opener such as in a theater line, at a career fair, or sporting event.

An elevator pitch or speech is really just another valuable marketing tool. Practice it and be ready. Many colleges and universities offer practice sessions and training for elevator pitches. Here are general best practices to incorporate:

  • Be brief
  • Be authentic
  • Be confident and positive
  • Be able to introduce yourself in a way that shows your passion or ability
  • Keep it simple and specific
  • Be interested in the other person: ask a question.

Kevin Grubb, Career Coach and Social Media Consultant advises: “Try to make your elevator pitch conversational. After a brief description of you, your major and interests, make a relevant comment on the company or person and then ask a question. You want to quickly and seamlessly open up the dialogue to engage the other person. Be sure to listen carefully so you can deepen the conversation.”

Pull together the best marketing tools that will help you establish the right personal branding image with prospective employers. What other ways do you establish your personal brand?

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Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.

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