February 22, 2013

Why grad students should build their personal brand

Upon graduating from Weatherhead in 2010, I found myself working in Sydney, Australia, with one of the world’s premier design and strategy consulting firms. The experience was tremendous in that it challenged me cognitively, culturally and professionally. It also afforded me with the opportunity to fast track my business acumen and develop my own consulting ethos in a way that I feel was unique to working internationally. But, I eventually came to the point where I wished to bring that skill set closer to home. 

Weatherhead Alumnus, Brooks Modie
After moving back to the U.S., I quickly realized that my network of colleagues, associates and partners were all happily plodding along 9,500 miles away. For all intents and purposes, I had no real professional network to begin the next step of the journey. It was apparent that I needed to build upon the basic set of personal information on LinkedIn that I had hastily constructed while still a first-year MBA student. 

The first step was to complete my profile with the additional relevant skills and experience accrued over the past few years. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I needed to develop my new network, first virtually and then more concretely via coffee, networking events or when mutual circumstances brought us together. Using my ever-­‐growing network for practical purposes was key in becoming informed about potential opportunities, but it also served a greater purpose. Using LinkedIn for social and professional networking opportunities was important in helping to develop and promote my personal brand. 

LinkedIn is evolving and becoming increasingly central in the corporate recruiting space. Talent acquisition managers are spending more and more time trolling LinkedIn pages for potential job candidates and one key step in appearing high in their search queries is to develop and maintain a vast business network. 

Understanding the algorithm behind LinkedIn empowered me to use the site as it is intended and, in turn, I am often contacted by recruiters who are seeking assistance in identifying potential candidates, as well as vetting my own experience for available opportunities.  

Looking back to when I was a student, I freely admit to being unaware of the potential behind social and professional networking. The idea of building a sense of community did not come quickly. Growing my own network that is focused, visible and promotes my personal brand had to be done honestly, organically and evolve along with my career aspirations and goals. I only wish I had started sooner.

Personally, LinkedIn has helped connect me to a large professional network here in the U.S., while maintaining and promoting those whom I have collaborated with abroad. Furthermore, I have been able to secure a fantastic new direction in my own career path using the site as a business recruiting tool. 

Currently, the Weatherhead School Management Alumni LinkedIn group serves as a thriving resource to nearly 5,000 alumni and current students. Learn about the additional career management resources available to our students.

Brooks Modie, MBA '10