Personal branding expert for Gen-Y Dan Schawbel recently published his groundbreaking book Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, which outlines his proven 4-step process for building a powerful brand and focuses on how to use social media tools for personal brand building.
In our interview, he discussed how his methods transcend generation or professional level and apply to c-level executive career success as well.
Congratulations on the publication of your first book, Dan! You’ve put together a wealth of information about personal branding that will surely benefit anyone reading it. What would you say differentiates your book from others that teach people how to build and leverage their personal brands?
Me 2.0 is the first book about personal branding written by a millennial (myself) for the millennial audience and is the first book to focus primarily on how to use social media tools for career success. Most of the feedback I’ve received has been that Me 2.0 can benefit those at any career level and even companies, who are interested in recruiting Gen-Y or building their own brands through these new tools.
When and how did you learn about personal branding and decide it would be beneficial to you?
Before I knew the term “personal branding” existed, I was very interested in self-marketing and marketing, in general. I didn’t really understand networking and I wasn’t too comfortable with it when I was in college, so I had to fight for every internship. I had eight internships by the time I graduated and that wasn’t even enough to get me the job I wanted quickly.
I got the internships by marketing myself with a CD portfolio, custom resume and cover letter, business card and website. I stood out to employers by doing things others had not. I eventually got a job when I graduated at EMC. About a year later I read Tom Peter’s article and everything clicked for me. I was starting to become a heavy social media user and I started my own blog around Personal Branding. The rest, as they say, is history.
What process did you use to uncover and develop your personal brand? How did you feel about the introspective process? What did you learn about yourself?
I used my own process that I talk about in Me 2.0, which is DCCM or discover, create, communicate and maintain. I’ve learned a lot about myself as I’ve traveled through this never-ending process, such as what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are.
By understanding both, I know who to seek help from and how to allocate my time. I really push people to go through this process because if you don’t know who you are or have goals, then it’s nearly impossible to be successful. One of the smartest things I did in the beginning was to claim my own niche.
In the recent video interview you did with Jun Loayza, I was struck by how passionate you are about many things. What do you most love doing in your professional life?
This is a very tough question because I love everything I do. I’d say that presenting to groups of people is what I enjoy the most because I get to connect on a different level. The internet won’t ever replace human interaction. Speaking about personal branding and hearing questions about individual situations is what excites me. Although I get a lot of the same questions, there are always ones that challenge me and get me thinking.
We all read a lot of misinformation about personal branding in blogs and other social media. What misconceptions bother you the most? Do you think that some people will never get what personal branding is all about?
I think the misconception that bothers us all the most is that personal branding is about selfishness and is for self-centered individuals. Most people don’t understand what personal branding is and they think it’s just a made up word.
What is your absolute favorite online branding tool or strategy – something you couldn’t live without?
My blog is the one tool that has never let me down. It has changed my life, whereas social networks have marketed the blog and helped build the community. I think everyone needs their own digital real-estate, whether it’s a blog or traditional website.
What was the biggest lesson you learned when you began incorporating personal branding in your business and career marketing?
The biggest lesson I learned was not to spam people. Whether it’s leaving your blog address in a comment or sending a mass email to 100 bloggers telling them to write about you, spamming is the route of all evil. You should be more targeted at your attempts to build your brand and build relationships.
I work with C-level executives, mostly 45+ years old, who often are resistant to embracing social media for job search and healthy career management. Many have never even heard of LinkedIn! As a millennial who takes full advantage of social media, what words of wisdom do you have for them to encourage them to do the same?
I’m starting to recommend a new website for those who don’t understand the web and it’s called Zimplit.com. It allows anyone to create their own website without coding knowledge and it’s all web based.
Also, I would recommend that they start small and then grow their brand as they become more comfortable and confident. They should claim their names on social networks and establish branded profiles. Then they should ease into figuring out how they can best use the tools for their own career.
I urge my clients to get involved with blogging in some way, even just commenting on relevant blogs, to steadily build a branded online presence. What impact has blogging had on your career success?
Blogging has changed my life for the better. There are hundreds of millions of blogs but most fail because people don’t market them. It takes a very long time to develop readership on a blog, so you have to be passionate about what you write about and you have to be committed to publishing each week. I’ve realized a lot of indirect benefits from blogging, such as speaking gigs, consulting and launching my various companies.
Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for job seekers at any professional level who aren’t particularly tech savvy and baffled by today’s job search 2.0? If they concentrate on just one thing to build their personal brands online, what should it be?
They should have their own website or blog. Use Zimplit to create your own website for free or use WordPress.com to create a free blog. Both of these services require no programming or tech skills. It’s all about figuring out what you want to do and using the tools to help get your voice out there.
With over 100,000 results for his name in Google, Fast Company calls Dan a “personal branding force of nature.” He is the founder of the Personal Branding Blog®, which was the #1 job blog by Careerbuilder in 2008, is an AdAge top 50 marketing blog and is syndicated by Reuters, Forbes, Fox Business and other major networks. Dan is also the publisher of Personal Branding Magazine®.