By Dr. Howard Gauthier
Alex was conducting an informational interview with the athletic director at a small New England college. He was trying to learn more about the sports industry and was hoping to pursue a career in college sports. One of the topics they discussed was on building a solid career within college athletics. The athletic director mentioned that Alex should focus on building a strong brand within the industry and he should begin by creating a personal branding statement.
Intrigued by the concept of branding, Alex asked what a brand is, and how he would go about branding himself? In a nutshell, a personal brand is how people view you. It is your reputation and what people think of when they hear your name. Your reputation is built on what you’ve accomplished and what type of personality traits you possess. Your accomplishments usually reflect your expertise in the industry such as a coach’s win-loss record or a marketing director’s knowledge and expertise in licensing. Your personality traits could include if you are friendly, have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic or are a good team member within the department.
In developing your brand identity, there are several techniques you can use to effectively create your personal brand. The first step is to develop your personal branding statement. This is a statement that defines what you do and who you serve. It includes identifying the industry in which you work (e.g. intercollegiate athletics), your profession (e.g. sports information), and your area of specialization (e.g. game operations).
Over time, specializing within a particular niche within the industry is the key to creating your brand. In other words, what will you be known for? What area within the industry are you an expert? Becoming an expert takes time, but you can begin by learning about a particular niche right away. Below are four steps you can take to begin branding yourself within your industry.
Join A Professional Association – One of the key elements to becoming known in any industry is to get to know the people within the profession. With this in mind, the next step in developing your personal brand is to identify and join the associations for your profession. By joining a professional association, you will have an opportunity to learn about the profession, have an opportunity to meet other colleagues within the profession, and be able to stay connected with these colleagues through a common interest – the professional association.
Be Aware Of Your Image – Your image is the perception that others have of you. It is a reflection of your activities, actions, and behaviors. Make sure that your lifestyle is congruent with the image you want for your brand. This holds true for both your personal and professional life. At some point your personal and professional life will become intertwined and become one in the same.
Writing and Publishing – One of the best ways to become recognized as an industry expert is to write and become published on topics within your area of specialization. Find a topic within your industry that interests you, research it, and write an article for a professional journal.
Public Speaking – Another way to become recognized as an expert is through public speaking. As you write your papers and submit them for publication, turn them into speeches. Contact the local Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs and share your expertise with them. Contact your professional association and submit a proposal for a presentation at a regional or national conference.
Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is best prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!
Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.