This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
When applying to business school, your MBA essays and interviews are the primary way to market yourself and generate positive attention from the admissions committee. But the way you present your personal brand on social media should also be a part of the equation. Your social profile needs to match the persona you will present to the admissions team, so start thinking of it as an opportunity to better tell the story of you.
Every applicant should have a baseline social presence to reinforce and enhance their candidacy. Some admissions committee members proactively search for information about applicants online, so you’ll want to link to your social profiles within the application to make it easy for them to have another touch point by which to assess you.
Define Your Shareable Story
Some examples of shareable stories might be:
• “I am a driven finance professional with a passion for improving education systems. Through lobbying, recruiting and fundraising, I have affected thousands of children by improving their educational experience.”
• “My passion for people extends beyond U.S. borders. My love of travel has connected me with individuals around the world. I nurture and maintain these relationships and learn and grow through these connections.”
• “In my free time I eat. And cook. And entertain. I love bringing people together over a great meal. Exploring unusual recipes, experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my culinary successes is an important hobby of mine.”
Weave Your Story Into Social Media Platforms
I recommend students initially focus on three key platforms. Most of us are on Facebook, so this is one area to clean up, make sure your privacy settings are in order and develop a content strategy that positively reflects your personal interests. LinkedIn is also a must-have, as it is the professional social network. Twitter is a great option to start if you haven’t already since you can use it to expand and build your brand.
For Facebook, choose a cover photo that represents your shareable story. For example, the avid traveler would highlight a photo from a recent trip. A candidate who is passionate about mentoring disadvantaged children should select a photo that highlights those efforts. Then, make sure the things you like reflect the personal and professional interests you have shared in your essays.
LinkedIn is critical as you embark on your MBA career and is an excellent place to network, gather information and build your brand by communicating details that support your shareable story. Follow influencers who interest you and share their content, too. What you update on LinkedIn helps to reinforce your brand, and actively developing a strategy now can help tell your story now and later.
Twitter is a great platform to stay up to date and engage with people who share similar interests. Make sure your bio is filled in with information that reflects your shareable story. A profile photo is a must, and the background photo should also support some element of your story.
Follow relevant users, publications or brands on Twitter based on how you want to present yourself. Look at their followers to discover more people with similar interests. You can express your story through original and curated content by sharing articles, adding commentary and tweeting your thoughts on the topics that appeal to you. Make sure to follow the business schools you are interested in as well.
Social media is a time investment. You can blog, tweet and post all day long, but you will get lost in the jungle of the Internet if you do not reach out and link and connect with others. Make sure that you work to forge connections, on and offline.
Build your content and your audience based on your passions and you will attract an audience of like-minded people. They will inspire you with questions and theories and unique points of view that will spawn completely new thoughts of your own. This in turn becomes the idea factory that will help you consistently generate lots of great, share-worthy content.