Author Q & A
How do you define personal branding
and why is it important?
Personal branding is how we market ourselves to
others. Each and every one of us has a brand because we are
constantly being judged based on first impressions. Also, we are
forced to sell our ideas and unique abilities to all
stakeholders inside a company or as an entrepreneur. Personal
branding is critical in a world filled with clutter, competition
and ambiguity. To be a brand means to use similar branding
strategies that corporations and products use to create an
experience - a friendship - with an audience. People trust
people, and will therefore be more inclined to purchase your
product or hire you based on their relationship with you or what
they hear about you.
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What are the benefits for building a
Just like corporate brands, people can demand a
premium price (a higher salary). Also, you will become
more visibility and recognized by your peers, hiring managers
and other successful business people and entrepreneurs.
With visibility comes speaking engagements, jobs, clients,
celebrity and much more! Aside from self-promotion, you
will establish a professional and social network, which will
protect you from an uncertain work environment. You will
also learn how to own your Google results and protect and secure
your online identity.
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Why is this book called Me 2.0?
The title of this book runs parallel to the
transformation of the Web. Ten years ago, in a Web 1.0
world, your brand was hidden unless you were an executive at a
leading company or a Hollywood celebrity. Me 1.0
was when your brand had to sit in the passenger seat.
This was a time when the corporate brand would not let you
speak. Forget about visibility and voice; you were just another
number. Me 1.0 was when, if you weren’t a corporate spokesman
(executive/PR person), then you couldn’t say a word! Me 1.0 was
when you had to hide behind your corporation.
Now, with the evolution of the Internet into
a Web 2.0 environment, every single person has
a voice that can build or destroy their reputation and that of
their company in an instant. Another major difference is that
you needed a lot of mainstream press years ago to make a name
for yourself. Today you can start a blog and join social
networks for free. Me 2.0 is when you are able
to stand in front of your corporate brand. Anyone in your
company can be a spokesperson, from the secretary to the CEO.
This is fundamentally different from years ago because social
media has given everyone the privilege and support to become a
powerful brand, at a minimal cost. Me 2.0 is empowered to make a
big difference in the world. Me 2.0 has enough free tools on the
web now to accomplish years of work in a few months. The web has
put some of the most intelligent and reputable figures at your
fingertips; corporate brand sold separately. You can now command
just as much attention as a company or you can choose to use
your brand in support of your company!
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What is the main theme in Me 2.0?
The most important message in Me 2.0 is the fact that in
order to be successful in the new world of work, you have to be
the commander of your career. We cannot
rely on our teachers, parents, managers and friends to make us
successful. Instead we have to take ownership of our
careers and put our passions in motion, in order to achieve our
dreams. To be a commander means to be authentic,
transparent, confident, persistent and display leadership.
A commander is a state-of-mind and in order to help you unlock
the commander inside of you, I wrote this book to navigate you
through my personal branding process.
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Why is Me 2.0
targeted at Gen-Y?
Dan Schawbel: When it comes to
differentiation for career books, this book is absolutely
dynamite. A lot of books that are written about and for
millennials are done by Gen-X’ers and baby boomers, but never a
Gen-Y’er. Since I’m in Gen-Y I can relate to everything this
group deals with on a regular basis, including stereotypes,
their need to be constantly connected and more. My voice is
familiar to one of their peers, so it’s logical they will listen
to the advice that flows throughout the book. Even though
this book was originally written for Gen-Y, it’s obvious that
others groups can benefit greatly.
College students require this book because they don't learn
how to market themselves during College, nor how to properly
navigate the recruiting landscape. They learn about math,
English and science, but not how to land the job of their
dreams. They are given many choices during college, such
as the ability to select a major and classes, apply to
internships and join special interest groups. With the
knowledge in this book, they will be equipped and confident to
make the right choices during college.
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How did you get involved with
Dan Schawbel: In high school I recognized that
I needed to stand out from everyone else to have a successful
future, so I stopped going to summer camp and took my first
internship at an internet company. When I was applying for
colleges, I got deferred from my first choice, which made me
work twice as hard senior year, take an interview at the campus
and write a letter to help me get in, which I eventually did.
Sophomore year I realized that it was going to be very
competitive to get a job in marketing when I graduated, so I
build a development plan that linked me to a series of
internships in all marketing disciplines to set myself up for
The first few I got through connections, but then I had the
audacity to go for big names, such as Reebok, Lycos and LoJack
on my own. To each interview I brought my Personal
Branding Toolkit, which contained a custom resume, cover letter,
CD portfolio, website and business card. I stood out and
graduated with 8 internships, 7 leadership positions and
straight A's. I thought I was the perfect candidate, but
lacked a strong network, which I had ignored previously, so it
took me eight months of hard work to get the job I wanted, as a
product marketer at a Fortune 500 company.
After a year in this company, I started experimenting with
social media, launching my
Personal Branding Blog on March 14th, 2007. I realized
that I was passionate about marketing, mentoring young
individuals and all things social media, so when I read Tom
Peter's "Brand Called You" article, I knew it was written for
me. From the blog, came the
Personal Brand Awards, then a TV podcast series called
Branding TV, some
freelance writing for magazines, and my own
Personal Branding Magazine.
The result, after 6 months, was a
press article in Fast Company. This article was found by my
company's PR group and sent to a Vice President. Instead of
being interviewed, I was able to co-create the position, which
aligned with my passion outside of work. Once this happened, I
knew I had a story. My motto was "the goal of personal branding
is to be recruited based on your brand, not applying for jobs."
That is exactly what will happen to you if you read this book!
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What is your four-step process for building a
- Discover: In order to really understand
who you are and carve out a career path moving forward,
investing in self-discovery is critical. In fact, if you
don't spend time learning about yourself, your values,
personal mission, and unique attributes, you will be at a
disadvantage when marketing your brand to others. Start by
removing yourself from distractions and ask yourself, "Who
am I?" and, "If I could do anything, what would it be?"
- Create: Your personal branding toolkit
may consist of a blog, Web site, business card, résumé,
reference document, cover letter, portfolio, or even a
LinkedIn profile. Each piece has to be consistent with the
next and reflect the brand you discovered in Step 1.
- Communicate: Now it's time to use
everything you've created to let people know you exist. By
attending professional networking events, writing articles
for Web sites, and putting on your "personal PR hat," pitch
bloggers and traditional journalists to start gaining
attention and recognition for the brand you created in Step
- Maintain: As you grow, mature, and
accelerate in your career, everything you've created has to
be updated and accurately represent the current "brand you."
Also, you need to monitor your brand online to ensure all
conversations about you are positive and factual. You can do
this by using a combination of tools, including a Google
Alert for your name.
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