Monday, January 4, 2010

Communications Tip: Develop Your Brand

Start the New Year with a resolution to develop your brand. What element will remain consistent whether you are a student, an intern, or environmental professional? You. Develop a brand that transcends your current position. You've already created your resume and cover letter, so what do you do next? Show what you know and develop your expertise. Here's a few tips to get you started:

1. Create a blog: The Communications Center uses Blogger, but there are several services available. You can create a blog in less than five minutes. Blogs offer an opportunity to show what you know. You are in a field that is a hot media topic, so take advantage of the attention to respond to current events. Show how your unique knowledge and experience inform your understanding of policy issues, climate change, and corporate practices. Use the blog as an opportunity to respond to articles you read, presentations you attend, or other blogs. Establish an online presence by blogging weekly or semi-monthly to associate your name with environmental issues when prospective employers Google your name.

2. Stay current: Use time you would usually spend on Facebook to stay current on issues in the environmental field. Undoubtedly, this practice will give you a competitive advantage. Select your favorite publications and sign up for their updates. For example, the New York Times will send e-mails whenever specific keywords are mentioned in an article (e.g., climate & change). Also, sign up for Google Alerts to receive daily notices of your keywords newly appearing on websites and blogs (hint: this strategy serves as a great way to stay abreast of issues involving a particular company/organization, too).

Ask professors and supervisors what they read and add these readings to your list.

Tracy Barba, VP of Marketing at Duarte Design compiled the following list of interesting environmental blogs for our ESM 437 students. Use this list as a springboard to familiarize yourself with blogs in your field:

Barba also recommends checking out green sections in the following publications:
Business Week
New York Times
Financial Times

3. Use your LinkedIn status to highlight accomplishments: Sure, LinkedIn is about making connections, but used wisely, it can be your best public relations forum. 2nd Year MESM students should have something like "completing Master's Thesis in watershed research" as their current status. Ph.D. students should use their status updates to highlight conference attendance and progress on current work. First-year MESM students can use their status to announce that they are seeking a summer internship or gaining experience in field work or GIS. Update your LinkedIn status about once per month or once per quarter.
While we're talking about social networks, be aware that prospective employers may review your Facebook or MySpace accounts. Be savvy about your privacy settings, but also be aware that there's still a chance that someone you friend may be a future co-worker. Start using your social networking profiles judiciously. Instead of posting pics of weekend revelry, post links to interesting articles. Establish yourself as a professional and remember that the Internet has a long memory -- use it to your advantage.

--Monica Bulger

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