As a former NCAA athlete, I was thrilled when I was approached by the athletic department of University of Houston to chat with student-athletes about social media branding and career development. I’m a strong believer that college athletics can be a key tool for professional development and personal branding. I believe it because it worked for me, and that’s exactly what I spoke to the 50 student-athletes about on Jan. 26.
In the 45 minutes I had with the students, I wanted to drive home three main points.
- Differentiate yourself as an athlete. Student-athletes sometimes spend more time on the field (or in my case the pool) than in the classroom. In a lot of ways, being on a team is really similar to working with a collaborative group of people, like I do here at MMI Agency. That experience is something that can shine in an interview setting or on social media. College athletics are often a good conversation starter, too. In fact, it’s something that’s helped me relate to people in every job I’ve ever had.
- Clean up your digital dirt. Social media can truly be your best friend or worst enemy when searching for a job. I provided the following tips for easy ways to clean up their digital footprint (if needed):
- Google yourself and set up Google alerts for your name so you’re always the first to know when you’re mentioned online.
- Check privacy settings and decide what networks to leave open and which audiences you may want to restrict.
- Get a LinkedIn account, customize your profile and URL, then start networking by joining professional groups!
- Think before you post. Nothing on the Internet really disappears…not even Snapchat or deleted tweets.
- Your social media presence is a reflection of you. Don’t post something you wouldn’t say to a potential employer or your grandma.
- Use social media to establish your brand. I walked the students through a few ways they can use social media to their advantage – from getting a job to free swag!
- Identify brand attributes about yourself. What words or traits do you want to be identified with on the Internet?
- Develop an elevator speech that describes who you are so you can showcase your best self regardless of the platform.
- Be consistent. Your profile photos should all be clearly you and your tone should be similar.
- Social media is a prime place to begin networking. Twitter chats, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn groups and forums are all great ways to connect with people in your field.
- Align yourself with trusted influencers and brands. This is something I’ve loved doing as a brand ambassador. Not only have I met amazing people, I’ve also had some incredible experiences, like previewing new restaurants, meeting running celebrities, and testing new products.
The students asked some insightful questions and seemed to learn from my experiences. To view my full presentation, click through below, and to ask me any questions about personal social media branding, send me a tweet at @Lindsaylm!