The Branding Workshop

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You can’t be successful in business if you care what people think of you.

-Arash Shirazi

Style blogger of StyleMBA, Sara Azani, and CEO of The Bullitt Agency, Arash Shirazi, spoke to George Mason University students about what it means to maintain your personal brand in the business world.

Sara Azani 

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styleMBA

Sara worked at Booz|Allen|Hamilton for several years before leaving to take a risk and start a fashion blog. She reached out to brands she admired and started to become an influencer in the DC area. Her background in real estate helped break her shell and taught the trick of finding common ground with new clients.

Beauty, travel and fashion bloggers incorporate aspects of the business world on how they maintain their blogs. It is strategic to know what time of day to post, which platform to use, and the quality of the content you present.

Arash

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Photo by Dustin C. Lilley

 

Arash attended the University of Maryland where he studied international business, marketing, and journalism. He fell into the music world from his brother and became an agent. He first collaborated with a DJ duo and as his clients grew, he was able to hire staff and open offices in LA and Spain. 

He gave the students an activity to find out their path in the corporate world. He asked us to think of what we are passionate about, and if it intersects with what you’re good at. Arash is good at connecting people and not afraid to step out of his comfort zone. He is able to read body language and assess the environment before approaching someone to network. One day at a gas station, Sara noticed a jewelry designer that she wanted to collaborate with. Arash first looked to see if the man was busy before approaching him. He noticed the type of car he had and sparked a conversation based on it. After established common ground, he then asked what he did for a living. Arash then told the man, “I know a fashion blogger who may like to collaborate with you” and a connection was made.

Personal Branding tips:

  1. Define your values. What do you stand for?
  2. Find your niche.
  3. Work backward. What is your end goal? Then identify the steps leading to the end goal.
  4. Go into other fields and build a network.
  5. Be visible in front of brands. Instagram is image heavy, Twitter is more direct. Linkedin is a great way to find people’s emails.
  6. When posting on social media, ask yourself  “Am I fine with this photo of me being on the cover of The New York Times?”
  7. Think of how much you share on social media. Maintaining mystery is important. 
  8. However you want to present yourself, always remember to be kind. No matter how high on the ladder you are, to be liked, you must be kind.

Sara and Arash emphasized the importance of life experience which can be more valuable than any graduate degree. Internships provide the most valuable experience to build connections, find a mentor, and gain the skills needed to be successful in the corporate world. Take plenty of risks and act tenaciously when going after what you want. Arash claims his biggest regret when first entering the workforce is not setting boundaries for himself.

You teach people how to treat you.

He was afraid to say no and would complete work that was not part of his job. However, when saying no, word it better than “I can’t or I won’t”. This is essential to create windows of time for yourself and disconnect. Creative brain space is important.

The last piece of advice he gave the students is to develop a thick skin. Having life experience prepares you for the people who may speak negatively or act against you. Sticking with your values throughout these obstacles can let the negative experiences not affect you.

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