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  • Writer's pictureRyan Else

Oregon State University - Brand Matters

I recently had the privilege of speaking with third year students at Oregon State University, College of Business who are beginning to evaluate future career paths, internship opportunities and what to do with a college degree. I shared with them a brief overview of my journey while spending the majority of our time discussing the value of developing your personal brand. In this era of digital disruption, a never ending sea of 0's & 1's, the proliferation of social media and breakthrough advances in deep learning AI, I wanted to convey a simple and clear message as it relates to finding or creating a job.

Two words, "Brand Matters".

All successful brands have a few key elements of commonality. Amongst them are Brand Guidelines, Channels of Distribution, Consumer Engagement and Public Perception. As students looking for the next job opportunity they need to understand that in every plausible scenario they will need to become managers of their individual brand identity. Everything you share on the internet is a stamp in time, archived in the cloud and in one way or another connected to an algorithm that might eventually determine your final destination. Depending on where you want your early career to go understand the landscape of opportunity that is in front of you. Realize that savvy employers and founders will be interested in understanding what drives you to be you and how your brand guidelines align with the core values of their company.

I suggested they focus on social tools for developing their brand and extending their network in areas of direct interest to them. The numbers are compelling. Facebook (2.27 billion MAU's), Instagram (1 billion MAU's) , Twitter (326 million MAU's), YouTube (1.6 billion users), Apple Podcasts (525,000 active podcasts) and LinkedIn (260 million MAU's). Students should ask themselves how will their individual brand add value to a company now and in the future. Also important is to develop a strategy to using these tools in the most effective ways. When developing a portfolio of stocks or venture capital investments the most effective way to maximize return is by having a diversified portfolio. The same principles apply in this scenario. Focus on the tools that fit your needs the best.

LinkedIn will prove to be the most powerful tool in the long run for projecting your professional brand and networking. With 500 million registered users and 260 million MAU's the network effects are incredible. Sure Facebook and Instagram are in the billions but the core focus of those tools is personal networking rather than professional. LinkedIn is just getting off the ground in professional circles. With 70 million companies posting jobs in this network the goal of LinkedIn is to reach 3 billion registered users and connect to all professional employees in the global workforce. With the introduction of LinkedIn Influencers and Publish, it is a place to be heard and have a lasting impact. 44% of it's users are women. The WOW factor with LinkedIn today is a individuals ability to engage with the audience and have a meaningful voice. Only 1%, approximately 2.6 million, of LinkedIn's monthly active users share content weekly on the platform.

When you do the math this means that each student and whoever is reading this has the opportunity to develop an individual brand in a professional network that delivers 9 billion impressions per week RIGHT NOW. You can be heard, possibly recognized and certainly become more connected with your peers in LinkedIn's professional environment.

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