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Ten Self-marketing Tips for Undergrads

I’ve been informally coaching my undergrad business school students on how to prepare for the business world they’ll face in just a year and a half. They have some work experience, usually as interns. When it comes to presenting themselves in a business context, they are pretty green. But
they’re eager, and ambitious, so I decided to compile a set of tips to help them get ready. I always appreciate comments and additions.

  1. Find a local professional association in your area of interest—whether industry or job function. Join as a student member, and volunteer to help with a committee.
  2. Use all 120 characters available for your LinkedIn headline, and pack it with keywords about your skills. Finance, analytics, big data, strategy—use the terms hiring managers are looking for.
  3. Write your LinkedIn bio with your goal in mind. Who are you trying to persuade? If it’s to attract job offers, then emphasize your skills, attitude and drive. Talk about contributions you made during internships. Declare your ideal industry and job function.
  4. Use a professional photo. Seems obvious, but surprisingly many LinkedIn members use shots more suited to Facebook.
  5. Clean up your social media. Take down photos and delete comments from your younger days that may make you look undesirable as an employee.
  6. Practice your elevator speech. Come up with a few sentences that identify your situation and your goals. Add in a personal or professional twist to stimulate interest. Once you have it
    down, then start practicing ways to adjust your speech on the fly, depending on the audience.
  7. Buy your name as a domain, and use it for your professional email address.
  8. Start building your professional network. Begin with your classmates, teachers and guest speakers. Add people you meet at your internships. Send out LinkedIn invitations, and also maintain a database of contacts. Keep in touch.
  9. If you’re not a natural joiner, then find other ways to position yourself. Try writing a guest blog post. Follow writers on business subjects of interest to you, and actively comment on their posts.
  10. Think ahead. You are in college now, but in the business world before you know it. Take steps early, and often, to position yourself for a satisfying career.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth Stevens advises clients on customer acquisition and retention. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the business accelerator in New York City. Ruth is an author and contributor to many notable business publications. Her books include B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results and Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, Trade Show and Event Marketing, and co-author of the white paper series “B-to-B Database Marketing.” Ruth is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has presented to audiences and business schools in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff Davis, and IBM.

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