NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Corporations aren’t the only ones that need strong brands to stand out among the crowd. Individuals need them as well, according to speakers at the College to Career Conference sponsored by Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business.
Held in April, C2C featured 10 sessions that included a keynote presentation by Melanie Northcutt, SFA alumna and owner of Sugar Magnolia Properties, a boutique real estate agency in downtown Longview.
Northcutt offered three steps that helped her establish her personal brand: “get them to know you, get them to like you, and get them to trust you.”
She accomplished her first step in 2012 by establishing the Young Professionals of Longview to help young people in the community connect, share ideas and promote their businesses. The organization had more than 200 members.
“I saw a need, and I worked to fill it,” she said.
Northcutt achieved her second step by “volunteering in my community – saying ‘yes’ to everything. Give, give, give. I was genuinely and authentically me while growing my network and giving back to my community for many years.”
The third step involved opening her own real estate agency in 2017 and earning the trust of her new clients.
“I wanted a company name that evoked a feeling, vibe and emotion,” Northcutt said. “I wanted you to feel the two-story white house with the picket fence enveloped by the white azaleas and the magnolia trees — to feel the steel magnolia, to feel the southern belle, to feel Melanie Northcutt, the brand behind the name.”
Building trust requires hard work, follow-through and consistency over time, she said.
“Trust comes with experience and doing what you say you’re going to do. If you want a strong, consistent brand, you cannot stray. It has to be laser focused and crystal clear.”
Northcutt maintains trust by making sure her brand is consistent across all platforms and aligns with her core values: be strong, courageous, brave and bold; always be kind; you get more flies with honey than vinegar; spontaneity and flexibility are the spice of life; follow through with your commitments; your name and reputation are all you have; know when to be quiet; you can only control what you can control.
“And my final core value, in the words of Dolly Parton, ‘Find out who you are and do it on purpose.’”
Representatives from more than 30 companies also offered their advice on personal branding as well as business ethics and communications, social media, networking and other topics. In addition, they answered students’ job search questions and conducted mock interviews to help students build confidence.
“This conference is designed to help students feel welcomed and seen by the supportive and successful professionals here today as the students learn more about the tools they need to launch their careers,” said Dr. Laurie Rogers, assistant dean for academic and career success in the business college’s Office of Student Services.
To learn more about the Rusche College of Business, visit sfasu.edu/cob.