On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, the Kean University Alumni Association hosted its third seminar of Kean Connect, Your Personal Brand: How to be your best marketing agent.
The seminar took place in Little Theatre from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For those who were unable to attend the event, a live stream was set up by the association so people could watch and listen virtually.
The panel was made up of four alumni who are members of various professions.
- Tyrin Hammie, two-time graduate of Kean University in 2007 and 2011, is now the Vice President of Human Resources at Prudential Center.
- Craig Jackowski graduated in 1992, and is now the Manager of Technology and Innovation at Verizon.
- Ed Tadych is part of Class of 2004, and is the Human Resources Director at MOL (America) Inc.
- Marina Townsend graduated in 1997 and is now in Talent Acquisition at Viacom.
To start things off, Hammie explained what a brand and personal brand are, defining the term for the evening.
"I would think of a brand as a promise," Hammie said. "Think about it. Why does a person stay loyal to one brand over another? Because the service or product is consistent with the customer's expectations. The same concept can be applied to personal brand.
"How do you want outsiders to view you? Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room," Hammie continued. "When you're out of the room, who's going to be your ally, stand up for you and your brand?"
After the audience learned what a personal brand was, they learned why branding is important as the event progressed. The next segment of the seminar touched on settings -- like an interview -- where a person's personal brand can make or break him or her.
Insight was offered from an interviewer's perspective.
"I'm not just looking at your qualifications. Although those are important, I'm looking at your presence...You might be an introvert...[but] you don't have to be bold all the time," Tadych said. "You've been in your head your whole life, you know you, so be [genuine]."
Another interview tip was to not lie, as it can damage an individual's personal brand.
"If [an unflattering moment] is brought up in an interview, admit it was a mistake," Townsend said. When she gave this advice, her follow panelists nodded their heads in agreement. The interview will go over better if the interviewee owns up to a past rather than lie or diminish it.
"When you go into an interview, you have to be honest," Townsend said. She fully advocates this approach during the entire interview process. "Before you enter the room, they already have an opinion, made assumptions." This means that they have researched the applicant, looked at the cover letter and resume and now want to see how the applicant handles him/herself.
A large portion of the panel's discussion was dedicated to perception. People should be mindful of their actions, because it is never known who is observing behavior at any given time.
"Your brand is only as good as you keep it up," Jackowski said. Individuals must constantly adjust how they wish to be perceived. Simple acts not thought to be observed can diminish a person's brand. An act such as showing up to work on time four out of the five days on a weekly basis does not communicate excellent time management. Consistency will make or break a personal brand.
As noted during the seminar, if a person is looking to take the next step in his or her career, then he or she must evolve their established personal brand. What constitutes as a good employee does not necessarily equal a good manager. There are different qualities looked for in a manager, or a higher position, and this is why some people are promoted and others are not.
As most students know, there are social media sites dedicated to professional networking. A popular platform is LinkedIn.
Important advice given at the event: know the different between a professional profile and a personal account. Each of the panelists said they keep certain social media websites for personal use, and they are strict to not "friend" or "follow" co-workers on those designated sites.
"Know that your social media is just a glimpse...your personality isn't going to shine through on LinkedIn," Tadych said.
He also advised students to "Google" themselves, to find out what outsiders initially see of them. Again, it all comes down to perception. Tadych also wants students to remember that on social media, people are not only representing themselves as an individual, but also the company that employs them. Think before clicking "post".
A common concern among students is how to go about networking. Scenario: student comes across an employee for the company he or she wishes to work for. Now What? How should one go about creating that connection without coming across as pushy?
Hammie advised, "The point is it's not an authentic connection...it is a LinkedIn connection" so it will only get a person so far. "Start lower, [connect with an employee] don't start with trying to connect with the CEO [either on LinkedIn or in person]. You have to learn how to network and market yourself first." Each panelist agreed that having an elevator pitch ready for those unplanned moments is a smart way to be prepared.
Approximately half an hour was reserved for Q&A, questions asked both by people in the audience and watching online.
Tadych's one statement in the Q&A session resonated with the audience.
"You can't just shut your brain down...you have to let your essence out," Tadych said. What he meant by essence was personality. While it is logical to adjust to the company during the interview process and when employed, there is only so much adjustment to be made before a person has compromised his or her personal brand.
The panelists admitted that landing an internship is difficult, with the atmosphere being described as competitive. When this is the case, do not focus on the failed internship opportunity. Look for other experience opportunities, like a job on campus or in the mall. No matter the job, this will show a person has had an outlet to learn time management, discipline and other meaningful attributes to be applied to any field.
It takes work to build a brand, and the work never stops.
"Confidence is a shaky thing. You got to try to get it back when you lose it," Hammie said. "We've all gone through times in our careers when we take a chip in our amour...you got to [adjust] your brand."
Although there was not enough time to publicly address everyone's question, the panelists stuck around a little while longer to speak one-on-one with audience members.
Kean University Alumni Association will be hosting another event, which students are encouraged to attend. On Thursday, November 3, 2016, Night of the Stars will take place in the North Ave Academic Building (NAAB). From 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., students can network with an assortment of alumni.