Whether you’re looking for your next job, positioning yourself for a promotion, or hoping to start your own business, your ultimate success will begin or end with personal branding.
Targeted at college students and young professionals, Dan Schawbel’s new book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, provides a comprehensive crash course on personal branding that includes easy to understand tips and strategies, expert quotes, and even a personal branding toolkit.
Defining and managing your brand doesn’t just happen, it takes a combination of proper planning and execution. And today you’ll get a chance to hear from an expert on the subject—someone Fast Company calls "a personal branding force of nature."
Dan Schawbel is the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. In addition to managing the Personal Branding Blog, Dan works as a Social Media Specialist at EMC Corporation where he has spearheaded the company’s Twitter, Facebook, social media press release/newsroom, social bookmarking and blogging strategy in the past year. All that, and he’s only about three year’s out of undergrad.
Me: What would you say to any college students out there who might want to dismiss personal branding as something only marketing majors should care about?
Dan: Everyone should be a marketing major at heart because we all have to market ourselves in a daily basis. We are always being judged based off of first impressions and we always have to sell our ideas to management, our teachers, friends and family. We need to lead with influence, so that people support us as we navigate through our careers. It will be very hard to get an internship or job, without the right marketing mindset these days. For instance, I think everyone should have their own business card and website.
Me: With undergrads being one of the primary audiences for your book, how early do you think they should start thinking about their brand?
Dan: If I was a freshman right now who understood personal branding, I wouldn't have to even apply for jobs when I graduated. Personal branding is the best career protection you can have because you'll have a strong network, a strong sense of being and a strong determination to succeed. The sooner the better in my opinion.
Me: What’s one tip you can share on how to effectively use ebranding to further your career?
Dan: Claim your domain name (yourfullname.com), yesterday!
Me: How important is it to have a personal marketing plan?
Dan: It's very important because a good personal marketing plan will align with your development plan and give you a good sense of what you can pull off, for what price and when you should execute. It's also good to know what tools out there are available to you and which ones make sense for your brand. A personal branding plan, just like a business would have a marketing plan, is essential to help get your name out there over and over again, which is essentially what branding is all about.
Me: I know I sometimes struggle with trying to balance managing my in-person networks while also maintaining virtual networks through sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. What advice do you have on how readers can decide which social networking sites to join and which ones to avoid?
Dan: You need to choose the ones with the largest volume (Facebook has 200 million users), the most credibility (LinkedIn has Bill Gates) and the ones that are most relevant to you and your industry. Avoid ones that don't fit any of these. Me: It’s one thing to develop your brand, but another to maintain it. Will you talk a little bit about reputation management? Dan: Once your name is all over the internet (or at least you hope it is), you'll want to keep a pulse on what people are saying about your personal brand. Reputation management is important because if people are negatively portraying your brand, you'll want to intercept that before it spreads virally throughout the internet.
Me: If you could pick one personal brand not your own, who would you choose and why?
Dan: Right now, Shaquille O'Neal has impressed me a lot with his personal brand. Aside from him being famous for being a top NBA basketball player, his use of Twitter has really helped people keep in touch with him. Some Twitter users have even met him in person after a tweet. He's able to remain transparent and authentic, without having a PR person take control.
Me: What inspired you to write this book and what do you want people to get out of it?
Dan: A lot of my friends were having trouble getting jobs and they were begging for a resource. Also, I feel like I was born to do what I'm currently doing because I was always interested in self-marketing back in college and I have a deep interest in social media and how people can use these tools to connect in meaningful ways and form a "fan base" of some sort. I think it's all extremely powerful and the end result is that you can monetize your passion and enjoy life.
Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (courtingyourcareer.com).