Personal branding. It's a buzz word thrown around by top-tier publications and bloggers alike. But what does it mean for you—and more importantly, what does it have to do with your sorority recruitment journey?
Actually, a lot! So let's start by breaking down what a personal brand actually is.
PERSONAL BRANDING AND SORORITY RECRUITMENT
First things first: a personal brand is more than just a logo. Personal branding is the practice of developing and delivering a cohesive representation of yourself in print, online, and in person. Since you're still months away from meeting any sorority chapter members face to face, for the time being we'll keep our focus on those first two aspects—in print and online. Don't you worry, though. We'll have A LOT to say about sorority recruitment conversations, recruitment-appropriate attire, and more when the time comes!
You can think of your personal brand as a new-school "calling card" that announces who you are and what you're all about before you've even set foot in the building (or in this case, on campus). Have you ever spent some time on one of your favorite blogger's websites or social media accounts and noticed how cohesive everything seems to look? We're betting that her Instagram photos are all edited similarly, the "voice" used in her blog posts is consistent with what you'll see on her social media captions, and the overall color scheme of her Instagram account is closely tied to the hues used in the logo featured on her website. It's also (very) safe to assume that her unique style is carried all the way through additional extensions of her brand—her professional resume, the media kits and proposals she sends to potential sponsors, and any printed business cards she happens to carry with her.
Okay, so we're on the same page about what a personal brand looks like for a blogger. But what sort of elements fall under the category of "personal branding" for a PNM preparing for sorority recruitment?
1. Your Social Resume—As we've said before, ultimately the content of your resume is more important than the look of your resume, and creating a cute and cohesive sorority packet does NOT guarantee that you will receive a bid or be carried further than other PNMs in the recruitment process. However, whether you will be sending your social resume to alumnae in print or digital form, it DOES give you an excellent (and fun!) opportunity to showcase your accomplishments while also introducing elements of your personality, interests, and style.
If that sounds right up your alley, start by choosing a design and color scheme that looks and feels like you. The sky is the limit here, with ONE exception. We would strongly caution against choosing a motif that also doubles as a sorority symbol. Many stationers offer letterhead embellished with anchors, arrows, and ivy. While these are all fun designs, they are also all symbols for specific sororities (Delta Gamma, Pi Phi, and Alpha Phi to be exact)—and could be perceived as a subtle way of showing your preference for a particular house. Reference our guide to sorority symbols here to avoid making this mistake!
2. Your Cover Letter—We're not just talking about the look of your cover letter here (although we love to see cover letters printed on our custom letterhead!). We're also talking about the words you use to introduce yourself to alumnae. You may or may not already know this, but we created a free cover letter template that has been downloaded literally thousands of times...which we LOVE! You know what we love even more, though? When you guys make it your own. Using our basic cover letter structure as a guideline, we encourage you to add in your own voice, flair, and interesting facts. Let alumnae know what you're planning to major in, why you have decided to go through sorority recruitment, and what you're hoping to gain from the experience. The better these women get to "know" you through your cover letter and sorority packet, the stronger and more well-rounded their recommendations will be. Added bonus: We can almost 100% guarantee that at some point during recruitment week, all of the points we just listed above will be presented to you as questions by a member of a sorority. In other words? Identifying your "why" early in the process will help you now AND later.
3. Your Sorority Recruitment Portraits—Traditional senior portraits can definitely be used for your sorority recruitment packets...with a couple of exceptions! 1.) We recommend going for a natural makeup look and wearing your hair in a similar style to what you could see yourself sporting during sorority recruitment week. The purpose? To ensure that chapter members recognize you instantly upon arrival based on the headshot, three-quarter shot, and full body shot included with your packet! 2.) While taking senior portraits in your prom dress or letter jacket is so much fun, these aren’t the best options for your sorority packet photos. We recommend posing in an outfit that’s similar in style (although not identical) to what you might wear during recruitment week. Again, this will make it easy for members of each sorority to immediately identify you and strike up a conversation. 3.) Last but not least, while syncing up the colors and styling of your portrait wardrobe with your sorority packet design isn't a requirement, it sure is a gorgeous and polished way to tackle this whole personal branding thing! Take a peek at these portraits taken by our Founder/Owner Crystal and the Lattice Monogram packet design and you'll see what we mean.
4. Your Social Media Accounts—Having your social media profiles on a public setting gives the alumnae writing your letters of recommendation—and in the future, current sorority members—the opportunity to do a little research (AKA, friendly stalking) prior to recruitment. Don't let this freak you out, though. Alum and chapter members will often reference social media as a way to get to know you better, take a peek at what you're interested in, and discover topics of mutual interest for upcoming rush conversations! With that said, if there's ANYTHING on any of your social media accounts right now that doesn't accurately represent who you are (ahem...overly aggressive subtweets), or any photos or videos you would be embarrassed for your mom, dad, or a future employer to see, delete it now. You'll thank yourself later.