Chances are, at some point in your career, someone will Google you. While you can’t ever completely control what appears at the top of the search engine results page, you can help to shape what information is available about you online. This can be done by building a strong personal brand.
As a professor, you will have a wealth of knowledge and experience in certain topics, and you’ll already be a respected voice in the industry. Building a personal brand is about presenting this experience in a way that captures your skills, values and personality.
Why is a personal brand important?
A strong personal brand will help you establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your field. This has endless benefits and will help you to attract new opportunities, both personally and professionally
.Here are just a few benefits of building a strong personal brand as a professor:
Position yourself as an expert in your field
Building a name for yourself in your industry and making yourself known beyond your university can make you an invaluable member of your institution’s faculty, putting you in a better position to attract job opportunities and command a higher salary.
Expand your professional network
It can help you expand your professional network, and you will connect with like-minded individuals about the topics you care about. This can help to bring about positive change and get your voice heard.
Share your research
Growing your online presence will also give you a greater platform to share your research and expertise with a larger audience and increase its visibility.
Gain access to better media opportunities
The more widely known you are in your field, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to secure media opportunities in prestigious media outlets and further establish yourself as an expert.
Aside the benefits above, a strong personal brand can also have a positive impact on you personally, helping to build your confidence and self-esteem.
How to boost your visibility in the media as a professor
Actively participating in media opportunities is an effective way to start building your personal brand and gain media visibility. Media opportunities may be presented to you by your university’s communications team, external PR consultants, or by journalists that come to you directly.
Here are several ways to make the most of opportunities to be featured in the media:
Pro-actively engage with media opportunities
As a professor, you may be offered a variety of media opportunities which require you to provide a comment on a situation, complete an interview with a journalist, or even write a guest blog on a publication’s website.
Engaging with these opportunities is a great way to improve your personal brand and make your voice known.
Avoid academic jargon when talking about your research
While your research may be interesting and relevant to current events, be aware that the general population might not know the acronyms and specifics of your industry.
When talking to a journalist about your research for an article, speak in clear, simple terms and focus on the wider implications of this research.
Make time for press opportunities
Journalists in top-tier publications can often have tight deadlines, and as a professor, you may be too busy to meet these deadlines. However, by working directly with PR consultants and your university’s communications team, you can still participate in press opportunities without taking up too much of your time.
For example, if you’re asked to comment on a relevant news story, sending a quick voice note or a few bullet points to your university’s PR team can give them enough material to write a comment which can then be pitched to journalists.
Have an opinion
If you’re asked a question by a journalist about a topic, voice a firm opinion. As long as you can back up this opinion if asked, have the courage to take a stance on a topic. This will make your statement more likely to get featured in the article.
Growing your personal brand on social media
Growing your social media presence is another easy way to boost your profile and start building a personal brand. You want your followers to know who you are, what interests and inspires you, and what you’re working on.
When building a personal brand on social media, first answer the following questions:
1. Who is your target audience?
Before taking action, decide who you want your audience to be. Are you talking to other academics or higher education professionals? Perhaps you want to attract students to your programme.
Having your audience in mind might impact the topics you decide to talk about, or the language you use online.
2. What is the message you’re looking to send?
Once you’ve identified your audience, you must then decide the key topics and messages you want to share. One way to do this is to decide what needs your audience has and how you can address these in an informative and authentic way.
3. Which are the best platforms to deliver these messages?
Consider which platforms might be best to deliver the messages you want to send to your target audience. Posting regularly on social media accounts like Twitter and LinkedIn will help build your public profile and reach a greater number of people.
Keeping these questions in mind, you’ll be well equipped to start creating content on social media that’ll strengthen your personal brand.
Chloë was previously Content Editor for QS Top Universities and QS Top MBA, Chloë produced over 400 articles during her four years at the world’s largest international higher education network. With additional experience writing for trade media, she is also formally qualified with a Level 5 Diploma in Journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).