Posted April 09, 2015 by

Jump Start Your Personal Brand with Graduation Announcements

Catherine Carol Lott photo

Catherine Carol Lott

As an upcoming or recent graduate, if you’re not already working on your personal brand, now is the time to get started. Why? Because your graduation announcement is the perfect time to broadcast your introduction into the workforce while carving out your professional niche.

What is a personal brand and why do I need one?

Your personal brand is the public communication of who you are, but it’s more than just about the job you do — it showcases what sets you apart from your peers.

By defining yourself with your personal brand, you’re making it easier for employers to pick you out from the crowd of applicants or give you a promotion if you’ve already landed a job. It opens the door to new and better professional contacts, and it gives you a clear focus to continue to build your professional portfolio.

Regardless of whether or not you work on your personal brand, you have one — so why not make it say what you want?

How do I tell people about my brand?

Having a personal brand is important, but it won’t do you any good if no one knows about it. There are many great opportunities online to share your story — social media, blogs, websites — but in today’s digital age, nothing will set you apart more than straying from the norm.

I’m a big advocate for handwritten letters, mailed invitations and personalized stationery. Fewer and fewer people are taking the time to put ink on paper, and going that extra mile can really make a difference. Sending a graduation announcement is a great way to stand out and tell the story of your personal brand.

How do I make a graduation announcement reflect my personal brand?

Don’t go with the flow. Your university likely offers a graduation announcement or invitation service that’s branded to the university. The key point here is that it’s branded to the university — not you.

Consider visual elements. Think about colors, fonts, imagery, spacing — doing a little research on these elements and what they convey can go a long way. However, a lot of these decisions will come pretty naturally. You are your personal brand, so whatever speaks to you will help guide these decisions.

Keep your audience in mind. A smart personal brander always thinks about their audience. While your personal brand should be uniquely you, you want to make sure you’re conveying the right message to the right people.

Get creative with the content. While you should include your name and graduation date, think about what else you can share about your story. Did you already land a job? Did you receive any honors? What career path are you planning to take? Will you be moving to a new city? Have you already found a niche in your field? While you can keep the front or outside of your announcement simple, you can go further in depth on the back or inside, giving recipients a closer look into your professional life and an introduction to your personal brand.

Include photos. A quality photo of you in action can tell the recipient a lot about you and your brand. Whether you’re on the job, volunteering, giving a presentation or in uniform, go ahead and let everyone know that this is you in your element.

Make it personal. After you receive your printed announcements, consider crafting some personal notes to some or all of the recipients. By taking one extra minute to write a note, you’re showing your personal interest, investment, and effort. You can thank them for their support along the way or note that you’re looking forward to keeping in touch with them.

Who am I supposed to send my graduation announcement to?

Who you send your graduation announcement to is equally as important as what your announcement looks like and the information it contains. Think about anyone you’ve connected with, even going as far back as high school. Your network is incredibly important to your career, and those who you’ve made relationships with thus far are the start of your network.

Consider sending announcements to:

  • Your college professors
  • Professional and personal mentors
  • College administrative staff you worked with or who helped you along the way
  • Fellow classmates you connected with
  • Your high school teachers or supervisors, especially those who you connected well with
  • Individuals at organizations where you volunteered
  • Supervisors of companies where you worked or did an internship
  • And of course, family and friends

When it’s all said and done, your graduation announcement is just the first broadcast of your personal brand. It’s something that you’ll mold your entire life, and it will change over time. Keep working at it and eventually it’ll become second nature.

By Catherine Carol Lott

Catherine Lott is a communications professional who loves empowering the next generation of graduates. You can follow her journey on her blog (here). She’s also a career development writer for Tiny Prints, a Shutterfly company and Catherine’s preferred vendor for graduation announcements (here).

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