How to be valuable to your employer: Five Tips from Zeina
Zeina Gharzouzi recently gave a short seminar on personal branding to the TAV College digital marketing class taught by Zoonie Nguyen on November 8, 2018. Zeina is currently the Senior Account Manager - Enterprise Solutions for SOTI (a mobile device and enterprise mobility management corporation based in Ontario). She is also a decorated member of the Linkedln online network, as well as a successful entrepreneur and pub- lic speaker. Zeina offers some excellent tips for personal branding in this rather short, but sweet (paraphrased) interview.
How could a student with minimal experience build their “personal brand” to become a valuable asset to potential employers?
The first thing is that every student needs to know what their “self brand” is about: What makes them different? And, what will actually make them “stick” in the mar- ket. This could be discovered by asking some of the following questions to: What type of environment do you thrive in? What can you bring to the table? Who are you? If a student doesn't know who they are as an individual, they will never be able to discover their strongest asset(s) in life. The biggest issue regarding youth as they move ahead in life is that if you ask them questions such as, who they are, what they want, and what they love, they will almost never have a concrete answers. Therefore, a student must assess what their strongest abilities are and if they don't know, they should attempt to find out. Your defining asset, or the thing that sets you apart can be anything! Everyone has unique, special, and individual qualities, that if worked on, could be translated into an extremely valuable asset for potential employers, as well as your community. So, I ask you to reflect: What sets you apart?
How can you develop a personal brand that is valuable, yet remains genuine to the individual?
Start with your parents, relatives, teachers, or your friends. Ask these people what they like about you and what are the good things about you. This will help in defining the “real you.” The aspects that define you are what makes you unique and stand out. Therefore, discover your personal elements and start to expand on them. “I tell students: Don't learn to be fascinating, unlearn to be boring.” What are you already doing naturally, but your attention has not been brought to it? For example, if reading books is what differentiates you, then simply read more books! Develop your writing skills, storytelling and analyzing skills. These could be the elements that may one day lead to a career. Learning should be a constant throughout your life and with that being said, you never know what you will discover that extends your established knowledge, or grants access to new information that excels your career and individual brand.
In terms of human resources, which aspects of an individual does a corporation seek in comparison to someone with extensive experience and someone with minimal?
Your attitude is everything. Attitude and energy in the interview can make or break it. Interviewers want to see a light in your eyes. A simple reaction to what they are saying, or asking questions shows curiosity, which in turn demonstrates desire and ambition. They want to see the “gears turning” when they are speaking to you and most importantly, they want to see that you are coachable and open to criticism. If you are coach- able and have a good attitude, this tells the interviewer that you can learn anything.
Once an individual has acquired legitimate experiences, how would this person go about presenting these experiences on a social network such as Linkedln?
Aside from the obvious, which is to add any and all experiences to your Linkedln profile, a great starting point is to showcase your breadth of knowledge in the industry as well as your constant curiosity for innovation and adaptation. Look at what some of the top companies are doing really well and comment on this. For example, if you are in marketing and Bombardier comes up with a great marketing campaign, mention this on Linkedln and give them a public “kudos."
Can you recommend any additional assets that a student could immerse themselves in, non-academically, during their studies that would be of significant value to an employer?
It would always be networking. There are always events going on with “Eventbrite,” or getting invites on Facebook. If you know anyone in college or at work who is attending or knows of a networking event, ask them if you could tag along. Always try to be introduced to new and different people and be exposed to different people. You never know who's hand you are shaking.