June 13, 2019

Career Advice

How to Get Ahead: A Guide to Personal Branding and Media

By: Hannah Niles

Making a name for yourself isn’t easy. Whether you’re looking to make your voice heard on your local radio station or on a national TV network, you need to establish your credibility and brand.

Last week, AFF-Raleigh had the pleasure of hosting Stephen Kent of Young Voices for a discussion on personal branding, establishing credibility, and how to leverage media and relationships. Stephen is the spokesperson and public relations manager for Young Voices, and his primary focus is getting young people onto radio and TV. Stephen is passionate about millennial politics, criminal justice reform, and consensus building in an increasingly polarized world–the latter of which is of particular importance to our AFF community.

Here are a few ways to boost your personal brand:

1. Develop a Plan and Stick to It

Your journey toward success begins by evaluating where you are and comparing it to where you want to be. Success is a journey that requires all decisions to be made with that goal in mind. Embrace what you are passionate about and understand that while your current job and doing that job well is important, it might not be giving you the skills that you need to get to your next level.

2. You Need Momentum

Once you’ve got a goal in sight, skill collection and ‘building your village’ is the name of the game. In the 21st Century, almost limitless knowledge is at your disposal. Learn what you can from the internet – podcasts, YouTube, reading subscriptions, webinars, etc. Take a deep dive into industries related to where you want to be. But also actively work to build your village by meeting new people in different contexts. Engage in side hustles such as starting a podcast on a topic you love, volunteering with an organization that aligns with your values, or pushing yourself to try out new networking groups.

3. Understand Media Platforms and Which Are Best for Your Goals

Developing your personal brand and growing your reputation requires a plan. Determine what type of content is relevant to what you’re trying to accomplish and stick to it. Explore which social media or online platforms may be most conducive to spreading your message. Consistency on individual platforms and across platforms is critical in developing and promoting your reputation. Personal branding is and should always be maintained BY YOU. This requires a strategy and that you remain in control at all times.

Social media, blogging, and podcasting are invaluable (and free) tools you should be taking advantage of. Your main strategy with your public persona should be to give people a foot in the door to connect with you. The best content will balance what people expect from you (political content, perhaps) and new ways to connect. Stephen, for example, capitalizes on his love for Star Wars to engage his audience beyond his usual political content, and has even successfully bridged the two worlds in his podcast, Beltway Banthas.

Finally, pay attention to what your audience wants; if you’re in an interview, it’s about providing valuable content for the audience, not for the interviewer. In any medium, it’s important to evaluate and understand what type of content your audience is engaging with most. Give them more of that.

4. Cultivating Meaningful Relationships is Critical

Your reputation and success hinge on your ability to give others something of value — both in terms of a digital audience and on an individual level. That in mind, relationships with people in a professional capacity should be about more than gathering business cards. Challenge yourself to find a way to help someone else — find ways that you can help each other.

America’s Future Foundation seeks to build community by empowering members to grow professionally and become positive contributors in society. Our love for liberty is what brings us together, but our common goal toward community enrichment is the lifeblood of our communities.

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