Personal Branding Book
AboutDan Schawbel

 

 

Author Q & A 

Contents


 

How do you define personal branding and why is it important? 

Dan Schawbel: 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 brand?

Dan Schawbel: 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? 

Dan Schawbel:  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?

Dan Schawbel: 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 personal branding? 

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 graduation. 

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 Personal 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 powerful brand?

Dan Schawbel:

  • 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 2.
  • 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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