In recent years it has become common to find yourself unemployed after graduating. How you spend those few months in unemployment (or years if we are keeping it all the way real), could add a lot of value to your development. Use that time to invest in yourself and begin the journey of personal branding. Before you tune out, these overused buzzwords are always relevant, especially considering the changing nature of the workplace.

To quote Bryan Kramer; “…your personal brand is how you appear to the world. Different than self-promotion, personal branding represents a full-time commitment to defining yourself as a true thought-leader within your industry”. So, here are a few tips to get you started.

Position yourself near the ‘central nodes’ of networks

The most common piece of advice you will get is, network. It is useful to remember that when it comes to networking you must think quality over quantity. When you are just starting out, reach out to bigger or more established brands (companies or people) that you wish to learn from.

LinkedIn co-founder and the ‘most connected man in Silicon Valley’, Reid Hoffman helped shape my thinking in this area. Reid explains that the most effective networks are built when you connect yourself near the ‘central nodes’ of the spaces you want to be in. ‘Central nodes’ here refers to the most influential areas within your networks. Trust me, to avoid endless meetings that ultimately go nowhere, you should be picky. Take time to research key influencers in the spaces that you are interested in and reach out to them.

Ensure your networks are usable

Once you know who you want to, you need to build trust and goodwill with them. This is in order to turn them into contacts that you can actually use. One way to build this relationship is to find out if there is an area they need help with that you can add value to. Show them the quality of your work.

People are far more likely to become usable contacts in the future when you have established a mutually beneficial relationship.

Know your hustle. Know your value

While learning the landscape of the industry you are trying to position yourself in is important, you also must understand how you fit into that space. You need to be sure of the value you bring, and be able to articulate it clearly. It may seem old fashioned but it would be a good idea to sit down and write your personal value proposition. When you’re through,  mould it into a short elevator pitch.

What’s your background? What are your best qualities? What are your strengths? What is your business approach? Do you have any notable successes that speak to the opportunity in front of you? Once you know what you are good at, be able to boldly and clearly communicate it. My advice? As the saying goes, “Keep it humble with a hint of Kanye.”

Mentor your weaknesses

Having a mentorship is a tried and tested way to keep yourself motivated and accountable. However, the relationship is only as beneficial as you allow it to be. Often there is a temptation to put your best foot forward when dealing with a mentor. After all, you can’t have your idol think he/she is wasting their time on you right? We all have areas we need to grow in, so make sure you open yourself up to advice in these areas.

Start something

It almost doesn’t matter what it is; a blog, a book club, a weekly Google hangout, just make sure you create a space for you to learn, grow and focus your passions. Time is your most valuable asset during this period, and that combined with your passion and skill is a formula for a fulfilling way to get through your time at home.

It also helps to show future employers that you are able to take initiative.

Good luck!

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