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BRANDED–Personal Branding for College Students(Pt 1)

3.8.09

This set of posts will be directed primarily toward college students because we are the people in most need of a personal brand makeover. We have no job experience to back up our credentials; social networks are the locations with the most information about us. Because college students must count on social networking Web sites or our blog to build our brand, I will discuss how to use those places to best benefit you. This post will  discuss how Facebook could make or break you.

Credit: api.ning.com

Credit: api.ning.com

Personal branding seems to be the catchphrase flying all around the Internets these days. Public relations practitioners and students alike are focusing more on improving their personal brands every day. Personal branding adds credibility to your work, gives employers an inside look into who you are and gives you a competitive edge over anyone else.

On the other hand, if your personal brand does not represent you in a professional manner, it will do more harm than good. As a 21-year-old who is part of the Internet generation, I am quite active on social networking Web sites, such as Facebook. Facebook is quite a dangerous place, especially for college students, because of the information that can end up being posted or things that may be said by or about you. Here are a few Facebook faux-pas that should be avoided that will in order to create a desirable personal brand.

Party pictures are a big no-no on Facebook. Just because they are plastered all over the place doesn’t mean you have to be in any of them. I am not saying that you shouldn’t party, but when you do be mindful of the photags. If someone snaps a pic of you shotgunning a beer and posts it on Facebook, untag it. Honestly, I would try to stay away from the shotgunning altogether, but if you must partake please be careful of who may potentially see or hear about it.

Many people have different opinions on the topic, such as blocking your profile so only a limited group of people can see the pictures, but I believe in transparency. I have nothing to hide, so I allow anyone within my network to see my entire profile. Privatizing some features but not others leads me to believe you have got something do hide, which makes me suspicious. Employers should be able to get the dish on you if they want.

Sometimes it’s what you say that can prevent you from getting hired. Facebook provides many outlets for you to say something inappropriate, so be careful. Don’t advertise how hung over you are because of all those shots you took last night on your status, don’t write on your friend’s wall with some crude inside joke and don’t comment on a picture saying how great your boobs look. Facebook used to be an exclusive Web site where you could act freely without worrying about parents or employers witnessing your e-debauchary, but times have changed. Instead of using Facebook to show off how hard you can party, utilize Facebook to show how knowledgable, worldly, fun and creative you are.

Check out this article to learn how to clean up your profile while maintaining your personality. Dan Schawbel also has some wonderful personal branding advice on his site, PersonalBrandingBlog.

The second part of this post will discuss Twittiquette.

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