Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

Building a Winning Brand

By Valeria Tirado

April 11, 2016

I recently had the chance to attend Forté’s College Fast Track to Finance Conference in NYC on March 18, and I had a great time! I learned a lot from many successful women in business and met some awesome college ladies as well.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing speakers was Marjie Terry, who works for Great on the Job. Her presentation was called, “Building a Winning Brand,” and contained a lot of useful information that I’ll be using in my own job hunting.

Luckily, I took some notes and want to share some of the highlights of her presentation so that you can benefit from them too!

Own the room

Success = confidence = competence. These are the words that really kicked off Marjie’s presentation and they had a strong impact on the room.

Owning the room means making yourself stand out, in a good way, particularly when meeting potential employers and colleagues. Confidence is key when it comes to owning the room. Even if you don’t feel 100% confident, looking confident is what it’s all about. As the saying goes, “fake it till you make it.”

Be sure to have strong body language, stay open, maintain eye contact, and use gestures. When it comes to speaking, make sure you maintain your pace, avoid fillers, and avoid tentative language.

Have great content (your brand/pitch)

Ever heard of an elevator pitch? It’s basically a short summary of yourself, usually meant to persuade someone (like a potential employer) why they should be interested in you. They can be as short as 15 seconds, but some can be up to a minute long, although Marjie said 30 seconds is an appropriate amount.

I had some difficulty the first time I tried my pitch, but then Marjie offered us some great guidelines to follow. First, identify your areas of expertise; what can you talk about at length? Next, consider what you want to be known for; your ability to adapt, your ability to solve problems, being successful in the world of finance? Finally, think about how you can get there; getting an MBA, obtaining a job where your skills are challenged and can be refined?

Once you answer all these questions, you can use the answers to fill in this basic elevator pitch template: 1) destination (I’m interested in this position/career because…); 2) back story (I have these skills or experience relevant to this position…); 3) connect the dots (That’s why I qualify for this position…) - be sure to explain the connection between your skills/experience and the position/career in this part.

Make people love you

And the easiest way to do that is by being yourself. Nobody is going to want to hire someone who lies. If you don’t have much experience in the industry you’re applying for, then just be honest about it. If not, what happens when they ask you to work on a project they chose for you because of all this experience you raved about?

If they ask you a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t make things up, just say something like, “I don’t know the answer to that right now, but let me get back to you on that.”

Another easy way to make people love you is to be generous, and by that, I simply mean be generous with sharing information about yourself. Sure, people love to talk about themselves and being a good listener is important, but employers are also really interested in hearing about you too.

Last but not least, be transparent – speak your mind! It’s okay to disagree sometimes, in a respectful manner, and you’ll gain respect from your colleagues this way too. Nobody likes a yes-man, after all. Be your own person!

Be sure to look for any Forté events near you because I highly recommend you attend one as they are really informative and fun! Forté even offers a $250 travel stipend for their college events so you don’t have to miss out just because of money. I guarantee you’ll also make some new friends (I know I did) so you can’t lose!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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