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A Website: The “Hub” of Your Personal Brand*

Everyone has a story to tell! Yours is what makes you stand out from the crowd. A great way to get your name out there and build a large social media following is to create a blog and/or personal website.
Credibility is numero uno on the list of importance when it comes to blogging so I will share mine. As a junior public relations student at a top communications school in the U.S. (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, New York) I am competing with some of the most talented young PR pros out there. We are all smart, talented and driven individuals contending for the same competitive internships and entry-level jobs.

So, what makes me stand out? What is unique about my story? My personal brand. It defines my goals, interests, experiences, and personality.
A personal website can land you an internship… or job!!

I saw a friend reply to a tweet regarding a paid PR internship in Syracuse, NY for the summer. I immediately tweeted at the person who posted the position and expressed my interest. Within days I had an interview, and then the job! It might be a little bit of a Cinderella story, but hey, it could happen to you, too!

Building Credibility Starts Now

With all of the information available, branding yourself online can be difficult. It is important, though, to establish a personal website or blog using a platform such as WordPress.

As a public relations student and young professional, I strive to stay engaged with what’s going on in the world around me. That being said, it is great to have a place to compile these observations and share my own opinions. Your blog doesn’t necessarily have to focus on your professional field or career aspirations. You could also blog about something you are passionate about, such as a hobby. The key is credibility. What can you share with your audience that will demonstrate your writing skills, knowledge, experience and professionalism.

Plan for Success

Never create a profile or website without a plan. There are important questions to consider when building your online brand. How do you want to be seen by peers, networking contacts and potential future employers? What message do you want to convey? What is the ultimate goal of your blog or personal webpage?

Blogging allows students and young professionals to build credibility and a voice in the conversation. Blogging demonstrates that you are aware of what is going on in the world. Engaging with followers and other bloggers can provide valuable insight and even networking contacts for the future.

Through my blog, I have been contacted by public relations agencies to work on blog posts as well as press releases for their firms. Establishing these mutually beneficial online relationships shows that you are serious about your career aspirations.

I used my personal website (amandaesmith.com) as a springboard to my online presence. It includes links to my blog, my social media profiles and portfolio materials. Having all this information available in one place is great when you are applying to job opportunities, because it gives you somewhere to send your potential employer. A link to your website is something that should be included on business cards, resumes and social media profiles.
When creating a personal website and blog, there are a few important things to remember:

1. Be professional. Your personal brand should reflect who you are, but this doesn’t mean disclosing your personal life or intimate opinions. Maintain your website as a place that reflects the best version of who you are. The focus should be on your skills. What makes you an asset?

2. Listen. Personal branding isn’t all about you. It is also about your network. Building a community of bloggers that share your interests and passions is the most rewarding part of having a blog! To establish these connections, though, you have to listen to your followers. Follow public opinion and respond to current events. Always reply to comments and visit other blogs. Remember, your relationship with other bloggers should be mutually beneficial.

3. Promotion. People aren’t going to flock to your site over night. You have to do a little shameless self-promotion. Offer your audience some valuable information or insight. Make it easy for them to follow your blog. Providing useful, interesting information will keep them coming back for more. That being said don’t forget to step offline. Your online personal brand cannot stand alone. It also cannot replace face-to-face connections.

4. Be human. You cannot fake authenticity, so the best thing to do is be yourself. Don’t lie about your credentials or exaggerate your experiences. It is always better to be transparent and honest about what you can and cannot do. Be real and your true self will shine.

Like it or not, every encounter someone has with you influences how others see you. When sending an email or a text message, commenting on a blog post or sharing a photo online, you are building your personal brand for better or for worse. Take every opportunity you can to be human and express who you are to others.
*This post was originally featured as guest post on First Communication Job

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


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