What is one piece of personal branding advice you’d give someone who wants to work for a startup?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Establish a High Value Personal Brand
Regardless of where you are working at any given time, your personal brand will always stay with you. Invest the time and capital into your personal branding website, your social media and your visual content to project the highest value image possible. Investing in good photography is really important.
2. Protect Your Reputation
The importance of having an honorable reputation is vital in every aspect of your business growth. People want to partner and be associated with individuals who are well-respected in the industry from the beginning. Don’t forget, word travels fast.
3. Illustrate Your Previous Work
Startups are looking for professionals who can execute and make a difference. While building your personal brand, be sure to clearly tell narratives or illustrate what you have done or can do. There is a premium for doers, and the best thing you can do is quickly show a prospective company that you will drive results rather than simply fill a role.
4. Be Unique
Startup founders are intrinsically eccentric people. They have an enormous appetite for risk. They are exceptional and they like hanging around exceptional people. Make yourself exceptional. Be the only candidate that has a public portfolio. Let me as a startup CEO see your blogging, design, art, presentations, code, etc. I want to see what I’m about to invest in.
5. Generate Content
Invest time in generating content on different platforms; whether it’s tweeting, blogging, guest posting or posting slides. Make sure you’re engaging with people and sharing useful information. The more you do that, the more valuable your brand will be — making you a good fit to work at a startup.
6. Showcase Your Expertise
Personal branding is very important but nobody likes someone who is overly promotional or too confident. Showcase your expertise and help others; your actions will help build a personal following worth having.
7. Do Something Entrepreneurial
Whether it is a big idea or small, entrepreneurs like to surround themselves with other entrepreneurial-minded people. Explain things that you were a part of from idea inception through execution. It doesn’t even have to be a business; start a non-profit, a blog, a small mobile app, be the leader of a new club on campus, etc. Anything that can serve as your entrepreneurial portfolio.
8. Get Personal
9. Write Articles
If you want to work for a startup, show them that you’re an expert in whatever industry you want to work in. Write articles for your personal blog, or on external publications. Especially if you’re looking to land a marketing or sales role, showing that you can create a community around your content is extremely attractive to startups.
10. Present Your Personal Footprint Online
11. Be a Character Rather Than a Resume
Startups hire characters rather than positions, so applicants who are too focused on the position itself (title, job duties) and their own experience, rather than on the impact they can make, are going to bring up red flags. Experience is great, but grit and passion are timeless traits that are desirable to startup hiring managers. Show your true colors and “let your freak flag fly,” as they say.
12. Find Something to Offer
Working for a startup means that you are in a very entrepreneurial environment, so show that in the way you approach them. Tell the company what you will do to make their business better, faster, stronger. People are not hiring roles, they are hiring results.
13. Go the Extra Mile
In a startup, things can be hectic and hours can be long. Companies want to hire employees who can roll with the punches and are willing to go above and beyond. Brand yourself as someone who cares about not only the opportunity, but also equity. Founders want a team that is motivated by the long-term success of the company, and an equity focus speaks volumes about where your motivation lies.
14. Develop a Representative Digital Persona
Startups are environments that require team members to absolutely love each other. One easy way for an employer to get to know the real you is by viewing your personal and professional blogs, social media accounts and websites. A passion for badminton and rock climbing can get you a ton of points because you’ll be someone fun to have on the team.
15. Build Things First
Nothing destroys a personal brand more than a B-level product. And no amount of dressing can cover up the blemish that a bad product or lack of experience creates. If you’ve never actually created something that generated value for others, do that first before you spend even a minute on personal branding. Startups look for people who have built things, not promoted themselves.