In this article, I will be talking to the MBA audience but the things explained here are beneficial to aspirants of any competitive examination or even for jobseekers. We will focus on What Personal branding for MBA students signifies and how it’s actually done!
We all feel relieved once the CAT or OMET results are out and we see those aspirational scores on the screen. After all it is the conclusion of the days and nights of efforts that we have put to achieve those numbers. But do you realise, how many other candidates get the same amazing numbers that you just received.
Isn’t it a tough task for the administrative committee to come up with a list of shortlisted people from all equally deserving candidates?
What’s different with the chosen ones? The admission committee is looking out for differentiators!
Even after that, as soon as you enter the interview room, your brand starts to communicate with them. Whether you are aware of it or not, you carry a brand with yourself at all times.
What is Personal Branding?
Personal Branding is the art of marketing ourselves infront of an audience. This audience changes throughout our lifetime. It may be the interview panel for your B-School interviews or the panel during your placements.
It does not end there, It’s an ongoing process. Even after you enter your jobs, your personal brand is what sets you apart from fellow employees. The growth in your career factors in the personal brand that you have built over the years.
Your brand is how most people recognise and relate to you when they think about you. There are a lot of factors that go into making a brand for yourself.
The values that you hold, how you tackle key decisions, your experiences, your learnings, your passion and outlook, all of them matter for your personal brand to take shape.
Before we start to explore what personal branding for MBA students is, I would really like you all to read this article. I hope all of you want to be C-Suite employees in future and thus you need to know the importance of personal branding which this article will tell you.
What is the Benefit of a Personal Brand for a Student?
I hate to break it but we are nothing more than a product in front of the interviewers or our bosses in our jobs. We will see the importance of a brand for a business and I am sure we can apply all of those points for Personal Branding for MBA students.
If we extend the above picture to our own selves, we can make out that personal branding for college students makes them recognisable. Just think of it this way! There are students who diligently make notes in class. All students from the class recognise them for these efforts.
However shallow the example may seem but that’s the brand these students have created for themselves.
Reputation for Oneself and the Associations
Personal Branding also builds reputation for oneself and for any association that we have. I will give you yet another example here and I am sure you will relate to it.
Search for the most notable alumni of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. The list includes some of the most distinguished names in the Industry:
- Mr. Aseem Puri- CEO, Unilever Korea
- Mr. Manu Sawhney- CEO, International Cricket Council
- Mr. Mohit Malhotra- CEO, Dabur India Ltd.
- Mr. Milind Pant- CEO, Amway
- Ms. Vikshita Menon- CMO, Loreal
- Ms. Shubha Kalra- CMO, SC Johnson
The list does not end there but essentially what I am trying to tell you is these people have distinguished themselves through their own personal brands. And now they are bringing laurels to the name of their alma mater too.
When an aspiring student sees these names in the list of alumni, he/she is inspired to get in the institute and carry forward their legacy.
That is how personal branding for MBA students plays out.
Builds a Connection with Your Audience
When you tell a story so genuine and explain how that event has transformed yourself into the person you are today, that’s when people connect with you.
You must have heard that most MBA interviews start with the question, “Tell me something about yourself”. This is the question that can make or break things. This question has the power to drive complete interviews.
Hence when you are preparing for this answer make sure that you include something that you have done differently in life.
Transforms You into a Trusted Source
The kind of skills you have, both intrapersonal and technical transform you into a person whom people can rely on.
Think of it this way. You as a manager are going on a tour and you need a proxy to fill in for you to the meetings while you are away.
Who will you choose? You will pickup someone who knows about the projects, is diligent and punctual and has the skills to handle critical situations during the meetings.
Your combination of hard and soft skills makes you more reliable and increase your chance of being nominated to handle critical situations.
By this time, you must be wondering how do I make my personal brand stand out. Let’s jump to discussing that now.
How to Build a Personal Brand?
When you as an MBA student think about it, personal branding goes all along with you. You start building your personal brand right from your childhood. The first time you realise it is when you face an interview for you dream college.
Once you get into the college, you are simultaneously building your brand and also showcasing it when you give presentations to your professors or presenting in front of the jury of an esteemed B-School competition.
Your personal brand gets you your dream job and it defines your career trajectory even after years of getting into your jobs.
Hence let’s see how we can work on personal branding for MBA students.
Before I explain how to build personal brand for students, we have a ready to use format available for you. This is our Self Branding Journal which has been conceptualised by our founder Darpan Saxena.
Here’s a snapshot of the journal:
The journal tries to cover all aspects that are important in determining your brand. It’s of immense help to all students who want to excel at all the interviews that they go for at any point in their life. So, make sure to check it out here!
Step1: Establish Who You Are!
The first step in building your personal brand requires days of introspection. Create a SWID analysis for yourself. SWID analysis is a new matrix that I introduce today and I think it’s going to be beneficial for you to introspect in the right direction.
This was the first step in personal branding for MBA students. After you would have given a good thought to this matrix, you will have a clear understanding of yourself as a person.
Where you Want to Go from Here?
With the assessment you have made in the first step, make a vision and mission statement for yourself. This should include what you want to achieve in the short-term making use of your strengths and interests.
Your vision statement should govern where you see yourself in the long run. It may be a position that you see for yourself, or may be a sense of lifestyle you want to achieve.
Now it may happen, that at some point you are not able to clearly define a specific vision or mission for yourself. But it is completely fine. Based on your interest you can at least make an estimated vision statement. Even organisations keep modifying their vision statement and you can do that too at any point you feel necessary.
Define Your Audience
You need to start looking at yourself as a product and see where you fit the best. For those of you who know and those of you who will know at some point of time, this task is made easier with the help of STP Analysis.
This is a very crucial step in personal branding for MBA students.
Before I dwell deeper, I would urge you all to try out our course Five steps ahead, which is a course created like no other course. It is a course that has helped and is helping MBA aspirants and current B-School students gain clarity in making a roadmap for their career.
Do checkout the course here and I guarantee you that you will have an altogether different perspective of looking at your careers.
By segmentation, targeting and positioning you need to shortlist what will be the audience for your brand. This means to list down the Industry that you see yourself working in and the kind of roles that you envision.
Again, pointing out, that it’s okay to be not so sure! Most people including me are not! But make a calculated list of what are the industries that intrigue you. What roles are the ones that have one or the other day crossed your minds.
Think about that person who inspired you and you wanted to be a leader like that person. What role was he/she in and did you think that one day you want to lead like that person.
I am sure you will have some basic idea after you give it a thought.
Research about Your Audience
After you have finalised what industry and job role you want to pursue, go for researching about it. Search on the net what are the recent trends in the Industry.
Talk to people you know who might be anyway related to that industry or job role and ask them about their day-to-day proceedings. They will tell you what are the kinds of skills required to have a differentiated career progression.
For example, if you are interested in marketing, you will get to know that hard skills like digital marketing and marketing analytics are the real deal in today’s scenario. Personal branding for marketers in today’s world is learning these skills.
Get on with the Value Addition
After having a clear understanding of what the industry required, get on with acquiring the skills. MBA does prepare you on the soft skills but hard skills are something that are completely upto you.
Here I would again urge you to subscribe our course Five Steps Ahead, which will give you the B.A.S.I.C Framework for planning out a successful career. I know I was searching for some clarity and many of you would also be. This course will actually mentor you to start thinking in the right direction.
After going through 100’s of monotonous resumes, what will help recruiters see you differently are your skills. Once you take a placement and join your team, it is your skills that will make you valuable to the organisation in the long run.
- Personal branding is about how you market yourself to others.
- Your brand is what makes you stand out amongst hundreds of participants who seem equally deserving as you.
- The process of personal branding for MBA students starts with knowing yourself and making a beautiful story out of it.
- With this story you decide in which direction you want to take this story further.
- Personal Branding requires continuous development and upskilling.