The other night I was sitting outside of my cousin’s house after dinner, catching up with my family and exchanging stories about the time we’ve spent apart. Of course, they were eager to hear about my first year as a college student, and I was filled to the brim with exciting things to tell. Inevitably, the conversation then switched gears to talk about my academic path and plans for the next three years. I explained to everyone that I had really loved the courses I had taken in Tulane’s school of liberal arts, but I was unsure how I wanted to apply this type of degree in my lifetime and my career.
My aunt then said something that’s stuck with me ever since. “You know,” she said. “No matter where you take your liberal arts degree, the two skills you must master up front are sales and marketing.”
My first thought was, really? Surely not EVERY career field involves these elements. Then my aunt continued, “think about it. Everything you do in your life, and every way you try to advance yourself in your career, boils down to how well you can sell yourself and the talents and traits you possess.”
This piece of knowledge really got me thinking about the importance of sales and marketing, even in fields not relating to these subjects at all. Moreover, I thought about how college students should constantly be teaching themselves how to properly market themselves in order to achieve the things they want to early in their lives.
After taking a few weeks to chew on this information, I have compiled a list of all the things I think people my age should be doing to ensure that they succeed in their desired fields through fully selling the world on just how talented, professional, and hardworking they are.
Create a Memorable and Engaging Elevator Pitch
Imagine you ran into the CEO of your dream company at a coffee shop, but only had 30 seconds to describe to him/her who you were, why you feel passionately about the company, and ask any questions about how you could get involved with their work. Seems a bit stressful right? It shouldn’t be. As long as you’ve prepared some concise, specific words about yourself, selling yourself and discussing your interests should be a breeze. Here’s an example:
“I’m Patrick O’Brien. I’m a junior in the Farmer School at Miami University with a double major of accounting and finance. I’m active on campus, as president of my fraternity, an economics tutor and a member of Pi Sigma Epsilon, a marketing organization. I also play intramural basketball and am a huge hoops fan. I’m interning at PNC bank in internal audit, but my career interest after college is to play a role in a mid-sized high growth company or start up. I’m a risk taker by nature and would love to ultimately found a startup or launch new businesses within a bigger company.”
Source: USA Today/College
This elevator pitch will definitely leave an impression on any person you’re interested in reaching out to, and will keep them on their toes about who you are and what you can do for them. Perfecting a short speech like this will certainly increase your chances of high-level professionals listening to you and connecting you with opportunities.
Make Your Social Media Accounts Representative of Who You Are and Who You Want to Become
Take a moment right now to Google your name. What comes up? How do you feel about it?
It goes without saying that LinkedIn is a great social media platform for everyone trying to establish themselves as a working professional. But most students my age also have at least one “recreational” social media account where they share images or words about what they do in their free time and what they like on a broader scale. I personally love connecting with people on social media, particularly through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Before my internship at Nimble started, I was told by my prospective advisor that I am now a representative of the Nimble brand, and my social media accounts should do a positive job of reflecting that. So, without making my social media accounts completely artificial and a “fake” version of who I am, I spent some time making sure my accounts were fully prepared to be found and read by any prospective employer. Here’s a quick peek at my twitter account:
As you can see, I have a brief bio which outlines some key points about who I am. (What’s also important to remember is that everything in a Twitter bio is searchable, so for example, if someone is recruiting people to work at a company near Tulane University, currently at Nimble or works in Santa Monica, I have a decent chance of showing up in their search on Twitter).
I also have a high quality photo of myself as my avatar, where I am facing head-on and smiling. This shows that I am aware that my social media profile is an important asset in the business world, and I am doing my best to act accordingly, as a professional. My background photo is an image of a beautiful hike I did last time I traveled, and going on these sorts of adventures is a big part of who I am.
Lastly, I have attached a link in my bio to my LinkedIn account, so I can redirect anyone there who is interested in seeing my resume.
Overall, the mantra I live by in regards to personal social media accounts is this: assume that EVERY SINGLE prospective employer will find them. In addition to this, I would say the most important social media account to have is a LinkedIn. If you have an all-star LinkedIn profile and nothing else, that is fine. But having only recreational social accounts is probably not sufficient. So, either way, perfect or create your LinkedIn account and move forward from there.
Take Advantage of Our Over-Communicated World
The great thing about social media is that it’s a two-way street. So, while prospective employers are able to learn everything about you, you are in turn able to discover everything about them.
This is helpful when going in for a first interview, in order to show that you’ve done your research. It is also important to engage with these people on social media in order to get your foot in the door. For example, if you know you want to work in the Strategy Department at an Advertising Agency, you can search these criteria on LinkedIn. Once you’ve established a few people who work in this department or somewhere similar, you can then find them (as well as the company itself) on Twitter. You can begin retweeting their tweets, writing comments on their blog posts or articles, or anything of that nature. The idea here is that once you’ve appeared in the company or employee’s notifications, they are likely to remember your name when you reach out directly, and you will stand out to them as someone who is truly interested in doing work with them.
This type of outreach exemplifies marketing skills because it is the way in which we inform other people of who we are, what our goals are, and the things we are able to provide for a company.
Beyond techniques for selling yourself, these three tips have a couple of major things in common; remaining genuine and staying persistent. If you stay true to yourself and continue to work towards your career goals keeping these three things in mind, I believe you are sure to succeed.