And the Journey Begins…

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NIU College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern - Jacob Ferguson

Hello! My name is Jacob Ferguson and I am a senior Operations Management and Information Systems (OM&IS) major here at Northern Illinois University. Before we get started I would just like to thank all of the previous interns and authors particularly the most recent one, Rob Willer, for all their hard work and their dedication to making this blog the best that it can be. The goal of this post is to give you a brief introduction to myself and to inform you on the direction that we at College of Business plan to take the Student Voices Blog this year.

I graduated from Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Illinois in May of 2011 with dreams of going to college and my eyes set on one school, Northern Illinois University. One of my main missions since entering Northern Illinois University has been to leave it a better place than when I started and to enjoy myself as much as possible along the way. I think I have managed to accomplish at least one of those in my time here thus far. Furthermore, I am involved in such organizations as Delta Sigma Pi, CAUSE (Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs) and the Dean’s Student Advisory Board which I believe have all helped me to make tremendous strides in achieving the two goals mentioned above.

At the end of the day a lot has changed since beginning my time here at Northern Illinois University and it hasn’t always been good. I plan to be transparent in my posts and will try to give you a taste of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to this place that most of us call home for four some odd years. Topics will be selected by students and we will focus heavily on guest posts to give you different perspectives. This blog is written for students and by students.

Go Huskies!

 

 

Building your personal brand

Ludwig Banner1 Building your personal brand

Editor’s Note:  We’re coming up on the start of NIU’s fall semester, when a new NIU Business social media intern will post to Student Voices.  In the meantime, another NIU Business student sent in a guest post and we’re delighted to publish it!  In this post, Ludwig Gerdes (that’s him in the picture!) shares great suggestions for building your digital presence and your personal brand.  It’s a wonderful thing to do because building a personal brand helps you become more intentional about your goals and even more focused on how you Show Up for things in this great adventure called Life! Check out all of Ludwig’s suggestions in this story (below) and also on Ludwig’s web page.   (We couldn’t help but notice that one of Ludwig’s tips is to build a branded webpage.  And we also couldn’t help but notice that he not only gives the advice, but lives it too! Awesome.  So now your turn…go for it!)

 

A guest post on building your personal brand by Ludwig Gerdes

You may not realize it yet, but you are already contributing to your prospects of getting your dream job in the future. Whether your contributions are positive or negative, however, is the real question that you should be asking yourself.

What I’m trying to say is that your personal brand is already having an influence on your future, and it is high time you manage what your personal brand is saying to the people that matter.


“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.

 Building your personal brandJeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

Do a Google search for “Jeff Bezos”.  What do you see? Probably you’ll see multiple pages detailing his biography, some videos of speeches he’s done, and numerous articles about or concerning his work with Amazon.

Now search for your own name. What do you see? You’ll probably find your Internships.com profile, an old assignment you did for a class during your freshman year of college, and who knew you still had that old MySpace page.

So how are you and Jeff Bezos different, other than the $30.2 billion between your net worth and his? Well, he understands the importance of his personal brand more than you do yours.

But here’s how you can fix that.

1. Delete EVERYTHING (and start over)

It’s time for a good old-fashioned wiping off of the slate. Oh, but you spent so much time racking up those 2,000 friends on Facebook! They’ll still have profiles when if you come back. Think of it as a breath of fresh air. Believe me, you’ll thank me later.

If you do, however, have content that you want to keep (e.g. Facebook photos of yourself in high school, old Tweets you thought were hilarious, or Pinterest pins that showed exactly how you can turn that old desk in your parents’ basement into a GORGEOUS vanity) back it up. Save screenshots, download files, or whatever you have to so that you don’t regret deleting everything else.

If you need help, you can head over to PrivacyFix, or to one of these sites to search for any profiles you might have missed. If you’re willing to spend some money, head over towww.reputation.com. These sites are useful if you are worried that you might have missed something on the web.

Now that you’ve made it through that step and are most likely shaking from separation anxiety, you can start thinking about the next part: what do you want to do with your life?

2. Make Your Personal Strategy

Where do you want to be in your life? No, this isn’t an existential question. I’m asking you what you want your career to look like. Where do you want to work? What do you want to do to make money? Where do you want to live?

You should ask yourself all of these questions before you even START to think about anything else. Give yourself time though. It’s your life – don’t rush through it. Good? Great.

Understanding where you want to be in your career in the next 2, 5, and 10 years is vital before you start shaping your personal brand with different social media accounts.

“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of Crush it! (2009) and Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook (2013)

 Building your personal brandGary Vaynerchuk, CEO Vaynermedia

Gary Vaynerchuk (one of my personal heroes) understands the value of personal branding. Having attended a small private school in Massachusetts and receiving less-than-noteworthy grades, his personal brand and his attitude have more than anything made his career what it is today: a multi-million dollar media agency.

A. What Platforms to Choose (Professional)

Just how exactly do you start choosing what social media platforms to have a profile on, you ask?  Well, really it depends on where you said you want your career to end up, and how that relates to different social networks.

If you’re a design student (graphic or otherwise) you’d better have somecombination of profiles on Behance, Pinterest, Instagram, and Dribbble.

But wait! Don’t be on all of them. My recommendation is 2 – 3 accounts so that you can stay active on each of them, and it doesn’t stop being fun. Too many and you’ll never keep up; too few and you won’t have enough of a presence.

You can take a look at my comprehensive guide to choosing a social media platform based on industry. But in the meantime, let’s just say you’re majoring inbusiness administration, like me.

As a business student, your best friend is your LinkedIn account. On it, you can display your professional work, talents, and interests in such a way that someone interested in hiring someone with talents such as yours can easily find you. Did I mention that approximately 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet job candidates?

Secondly, you’ll want somewhere to host your work.

You love making slideshow presentations? Slideshare. Avid photographer? Instagram + Pinterest make for a one-two combo.  You have musical skills? Use SoundCloud to show off your masterful ability.

Each social platform has its unique features that lend itself to the betterment of your personal brand. Be creative and have fun.

B. What Platforms to Choose (Personal)

Now that you’ve decided on some professional profiles, you can decide if you want to accentuate them with one or two “personal” profiles.

What you have to remember in any case is that your personal accounts are still visible. Even if you set all of the privacy settings to your personal accounts to MAX, there are still numerous situations in which potential employers, co-workers, or recruiters can see your profile. So do not post anything you wouldn’t want emerging in an interview with the employer of your dreams.

Personally, I recommend sticking to the messenger apps like GroupMe rather than other, often problematic social media accounts, but for each their own.

C. 100% Completion

It’s not enough to just have a profile on a social network. You need to invest the time and energy required to reach 100% completion. Otherwise, you’ll come off as looking like an amateur. Do you want your brand to say “Amateur”?

Start by making sure that you have a sound profile picture. The picture should be less than six months old so it actually looks like you and not your younger, less stylish self. Also make sure the picture looks professional. No selfies or mugshots. Nor any generic background photo that looks like you cut it out of a yearbook. (I’m talking to you, NIU faculty!)

Link all of your professional accounts to each other so that they are easy to keep track of. Also, PLEASE customize your social account web addresses, if possible.  http://www.linkedin.com/in/ludwiggerdes looks infinitely more professional than www.linkedin.com/in/12019283102

Just go the extra mile to avoid looking like an amateur.

3. Create A Professional Website

Now that you have a professional presence on social media and are benefitting from the improved SEO that comes with that presence, you can take it one step further and create a professional website that can serve as a portfolio, blog, or simple contact form.

I know that you may have made a basic website during the early stages of your college career, but let’s face it. It was probably a piece of garbage. If you haven’t yet, go back and delete it.

With more modern technology, you can create a website with little-to-no difficulty using a combination of HostGator (web hosting) and WordPress (Content Management Software). I recommend following THIS GUIDE to creating your professional website.

I did, and then I slowly improved. You can take a look at my finished copy atwww.ludwiggerdes.com

One thing that I do (albeit less frequently than I would like) is write articles and publish them to my self-hosted blog. A quick Google search of my name will show you that my personal website is one of the highest-ranking results, just behind my LinkedIn profile and the work I’ve published for LinkedIn. That’s because original content is king.  You can use this to your advantage just as easily as I have, and boost your own ranking in Google searches.

Regardless of whether you blog or not, the most important part of your website is the message behind it, and the brand promisethat it displays. Again, be creative and original.

“Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” – Warren Buffett, Investor and philanthropist

 Building your personal brandWarren Buffett, CEO Berkshire Hathaway

4. Stay Active

So you have successfully created your professional presence on social media, a professional website for yourself, and cleansed the Internet of all traces of your unprofessional self.What’s next?

Well, now comes the hard part.

You need to stay active online. Not for a grade like some college courses require. I meanfor the sake of your future career.

You should endeavor to contribute to online communities, because other community members will take notice. However, you shouldn’t contribute by not contributing (e.g. spamming LinkedIn groups with questions you don’t actually care about).

Your personal brand is only viable if you maintain it. If you don’t strive to maintain it, then you are in essence telling potential employers that you don’t take pride in your work, and that you can’t be relied upon.

So you need to keep up with your social media presence, your professional website, and the online community that you are a part of.

If you don’t, then you may have already ruined your chances of getting your dream job.

Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.” – Oscar Wilde, Author and Playwright


Ludwig Gerdes is the social media marketing strategist for Northern Illinois University, as well as the 2014-2015 President of BASA, NIU’s Business Administration Student Association.

The World at your Fingertips!

Social Media:  In one word it’s been revolutionary for the way we communicate in today’s world. The idea of Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram were unheard of 15 years ago for ways to communicate our lives to one another. These social media outlets have allowed for out of the box thinking and innovation. The ability to network and meet people are probably two of the most powerful things gained from these social media outlets. It’s created a need for companies to hire social media interns and strategists to help better their online presence. People do use direct mail still in an effective way.  The difference is that now direct mail needs to be used much more strategically and in a highly-targeted way.   A perfect example is what I do here as the social media and marketing intern for the College of Business.  Throughout the first semester, our mission was to help make things more accessible to students on our social media outlets. Examples of this practice were bringing attention to guest speakers, athletics results, etc. We also run contests about the college to help reinforce school pride in the students, and to help them learn how they benefit from their education here. This helps reinforce the core values of the College of Business and helps out our students with studying for tests. Some other examples of our blog posts include first-hand accounts and tips for succeeding in classes such as UBUS 310, a nine-credit business course required for all business students.

One social media outlet I want to bring up that stands out to me personally the most is LinkedIn as it provides the most value to the students here at NIU. As a freshman business major, your first impression of the college is the name Dennis Barsema because the college is in Barsema Hall.  But then very soon you learn more about Mr. Barsema.  Mr. Barsema is an alumnus of NIU as well as an instructor in the Social Entrepreneurship field. In my own personal experience when connecting with him it’s like being connected to over 500+ professionals and students. This in turn has many benefits for potential jobs and connecting with recruiters. I also use LinkedIn as a way to know my resume by completing all necessary requirements of obtaining an all-star profile. This helped me a great deal.  Recently at the Internship Fair on campus, I felt very confident about my resume and talked comfortably with employers. I’m constantly looking for more ways to improve and seeing how others highlight things on their profile gives me great feedback to better set myself apart from the fold. The opportunity to make connections with people here at NIU, alums and professionals in the industry is something we didn’t have 10 years ago. I’m grateful to Mr. Barsema for showing me the ways of LinkedIn and others along the way…I feel I’m ready to mentor others on how to use this great tool of networking.

As a start, here are two things you can do right away:

1. Talk with your favorite professor or advisor about tips for creating a LinkedIn account.  2.  Contact me directly at (robwiller@comcast.net) to learn more about how I created my account.

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=147764262&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile