Noelle K. Barnes Managing Director, Abstract Marketing, LLC Abstract Marketing LLC is a provider of marketing and brand building solutions for small businesses, filmmakers, retailers, artists, authors and entrepreneurs. Ms. Barnes earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and Entertainment Business from New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study in 2004. She graduated with two pursuits in mind: blazing an off-the-beaten career path fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit, and helping to empower new voices and fresh brands beyond the mainstream. Learn more about Abstract Marketing and their work by visiting www.ThisIsAbstract.com.
It’s Tuesday afternoon and you’re in the midst of finalizing plans for a kick-ass spring break. You have a few networking events to attend as you begin the hunt for your summer marketing internship (remind yourself not to drink too much of the free wine), plus a friend from home is in town visiting. In between showing her your favorite East Village haunts and uploading the photo recap onto your Facebook page, take a moment to read this blog and brush up on your personal branding etiquette.
1) Image is not everything, it’s THE THING. I know you’ve been told that landing your first job in marketing is all about your prior work experience, internships, that elusive “inside connection,” your academic credentials and GPA. It’s not. Well okay, it is in large part. But another large part comes down to how well you package the total you. Are you someone a prospective employer feels they could get along with? Do you reek of alcohol, awkwardness and wrinkles, or is it the scent of optimism, confidence and freshly ironed pants that will linger on after you have left the building?
2) Beware of what I like to call “Word of Web.” WOW is 15 Mbps faster than word of mouth and twice as sticky. Nowadays, employers are even more likely to Google candidates during the evaluation process than they are to call up a reference. It’s wonderful to have a life, but follow moms advice here and keep PG rated social media profiles that hover safely in the “high employability zone.” Check out the article ‘Facebook Can Tell You If A Person Is Worth Hiring’ on Forbes.com for more insights on this.
3) Also, consider developing a website or blog with your full name as the domain name. With help from a free blog developer like WordPress.com, you can purchase and design your own domain URL for less than $20 a year. Then, you can own the first result for your name in Google and other search engines. To start, add your picture, a short bio, your e-mail address and links to the rest of your online presence (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr). Claim your name before someone else does. Take control of your online branding, plus enable people to get in touch with you via their medium of choice.
4) Build your network. During your spring semester, try to attend at least one event per week to meet potential employers and tastemakers in the marketing and advertising industry. Luckily, you’re living in NYC where there’s never a shortage of opportunities to mingle. In addition to browsing the Wasserman Center Calendar of Events, check out Adage’s event calendar and sign up with Eventme.com to stay updated on professional, cultural & recreational events where you should see and be seen.
5) Speaking of networking, what are you going to say to all these amazing new people you’re about to meet? Practice your introduction. It should become second nature as you will be introducing yourself often in the coming years. Start with 25 words or less that summarizes your background and what type of career you are seeking to build. Keep the information relevant to your audience and speak with enthusiasm. Also, do your research. Find a topic or current event of interest to your audience, have an opinion, and before you know it, you’ve started a conversation. The best thing you can do is engage others, ask questions, and get them to do the same. And remember, when you earn a new contact’s business card, don’t forget to follow-up quickly with an email that expresses your gratitude and invites them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
At this stage of the game, you would do well to reference the personal branding practices of professional marketers in establishing your own brand— online and offline. Establish a confident visual package, mine your social networking profiles for employer red-flags, claim your domain name, frequent networking events and practice your introduction.