Building a personal brand is important not only during your education but also when looking for work. By publishing articles and engaging in conversations on non-academic forums, you will establish yourself as an expert in your field and make it easier to find job opportunities. Not only will this help you financially, but it will also give you the recognition you need to be successful.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is a way for individuals to package and present themselves to others in the world. It is a combination of who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to be known for. A personal brand can be built through social media, content creation, personal interactions, and more.
It is important to build a personal brand now because it can help you stand out from the crowd, connect with others, and advance your career.
Look at it this way: when you meet a fellow paleontologist would you rather be a student who just graduated or a student who just graduated and who interviewed Bill Nye for your podcast about dinosaurs and pop culture?
Who do you think has more interesting conversations at trade shows or with interviewers?
You see, personal branding is a way to give people a quick path to understanding what you care about and how you wish to be packaged.
Everyone has a personal brand, whether you’re aware of it or not.
It’s just, most of the time your personal brand is the same as steel-cut oats: bland, inoffensive, and unmemorable.
If you’d like a personal brand that you built with intent, you’ll need to commit to getting the word out about your interests and how you want to package yourself, and you’ll need to do it early and often.
How can writing and publishing in non-academic forums help establish a personal brand?
Publishing in non-academic forums can help you build a personal brand much more quickly than writing for peer-reviewed publications. This lets you express yourself and your interests in ways that are not always constrained by professional expectations.
When publishing content in a non-academic format, you are able to show your human side and what makes you unique as an author. This establishes trustworthiness and credibility with potential employers or collaborators.
You can start writing and publishing now while still in school, understanding both what interests you and also developing a portfolio of your writing skills.
One thing to keep in mind is that you want to find a hundred different ways to say one thing, rather than to say 100 different things one time each.
If you talk about phytoplankton and their importance as a key element of our ocean’s ecosystem and find ways to cover that topic 3 times a week for a year…maybe at the end of that year a few people will begin to realize that you’re that “sea plant person?”
Most people think about us terribly less than we think they do. If you consistently talk about one thing for a year, 90% of your social media following will probably not know what you do anyway.
Basically, I’m saying: make sure that you’re comfortable talking about whatever it is that you want to anchor your personal brand on a lot because you’ll need to.
What are some different ways to build a personal brand?
For personal branding, content creation can take many different forms. Whether you prefer writing blog posts, creating video tutorials, or simply sharing your thoughts on social media, it’s important to find a format that you enjoy and produces good results.
There are many different ways that you can go about building your personal brand. One way is to create a blog and share your thoughts and experiences with others in the same virtual space. Another way is to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share your expert insights on various topics.
Content creation for personal branding can take many forms
- Expert interviews
- Content curation/newsletters
One key element about your personal branding: what you share online should not be about you, it should imply how you understand & are an expert in a given field by giving you many different ways to showcase information about your field.
For example: if you’re into robotics, you could make a YouTube channel where you show all of the robots you’ve built. This is fine, but unless you create truly crazy stuff you will have much better luck riding on the coattails of something more popular. Perhaps you could create a channel where most of your content is explaining how Boston Dynamics robots are able to perform all of their crazy stunts with the occasional build video of something cool you’ve done as well.
Why is it important to start building a personal brand while still in school?
Writing in non-academic forums can help you build your personal brand and show off your knowledge and expertise to a wider audience. This is especially important now, as you have more time than you will later in life.
“I’m crazy busy now, Trevor! What do you mean I have more time now than I will later in life?”
It is both true that right now feels completely crazy and that you have no free time and also that you will have even less free time in the future.
High school was probably the last time you’ll have two hours free to rub together until you retire, so strap in. 🙂
Taking the time to explore what your personal brand should be and building the habit of creating content for it are important tasks to start doing now while still in school. If you intend to build a personal brand now and then keep building it even if you get a job in the future, the habits that you form in the early days will be crucial to your long-term success.
An overnight success takes just 10 years, as they say.
Besides, success at networking is a function of organized serendipity. Making a key connection now at the beginning of your career will have a much bigger effect on your life than making that same connection in a decade.
Creating content and building a personal brand can open doors that you would never normally have access to due to the added value that you bring to the science world as a whole.
If you run a podcast, you could arrange an expert interview with the chief scientists at 3 of your dream research labs that you always wanted to work for. While it’s a bad idea to beg for a job in that interview, you will still get to spend half an hour or longer speaking to the senior scientists at your dream job and you have every chance in the world to impress them favorably.
If you build a curation newsletter with hundreds of scientists in a niche, you could credibly attend conferences and events as a member of the press and get much better access to network and meet people at a trade show than you normally would.
Publishing a volume of work stands as proof that you are both able to think of enough interesting things to say that you publish something every day and you are disciplined enough to create that content regularly.
Building your personal brand now has potential benefits that go beyond just career growth – it can help you find what actually makes you happy! The thing that keeps you up at night–that makes you so excited you’ll stay and finish up that podcast episode or that email newsletter instead of heading out to the quad and watching JAWS in the park–well, that’s the kind of work that makes your job more of a calling than a career.
Building your personal brand now is a task you can take with no downside and potentially unlimited upside.
So get started! 🚀