Dan Schawbel is described by TIME Magazine as “a world renowned personal branding expert.” Tom Peters said of Dan Schawbel, “Dan has taken personal branding to a dimension a million miles beyond where I was.” Dan is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, which helps build successful online brands. He is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, and is the founder of the Personal Branding Blog®, an Advertising Age Top 50 Marketing Blog. Recently, Dan Schawbel was named to the prestigious Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list.
I caught up with Dan on August 23, 2011, post East Coast earthquake! Here’s a summary of the first 3 of the top 10 take-aways from our interview. I’ll blog about the remaining take-aways as Parts 2 and 3 of this interview in the following days.
Babette: Dan, why is personal branding the fulcrum of all you do?
Dan: Personal branding is the process by which we unearth what makes us special and unique in the marketplace and then communicate that through various mediums, such as in person, your blog, or social networks, your phone, to our select audience: the people you really want to go after and who our message would most resonate with. Everyone has a personal brand…. Through social networking, in the past five to seven years, it’s become apparent that anyone can leverage the business strategies, the marketing strategies, of companies and celebrities on a pretty flat plane….Anyone can create their own professional presence that creates new opportunities instead of sending resumes to different people, or getting people on the phone or doing traditional means of selling.
Babette: How is having a strong Value Proposition important for personal branding?
Dan: It’s really what makes you special and unique and who you are targeting. A value proposition is really about showcasing who you are, what you do, what makes you different, and what audience you’re really going for. I call it, in my world, your Personal Brand Statement. .. Everything in the world is subject to change. You need to be flexible. You have to stay in tune with what’s going on. So if the market changes, and a new audience is interested in what you’re doing, you change over and evolve your brand, if that’s what you want to do…. You have to figure out what you’re really good at, what your technical expertise is…. Really boiling it down to one specific thing. And then, what audience, what industry, what profession, what geography? It’s almost like thinking like a company; and companies cater to different market segments… Cater to one small segment, and once you gain more visibility, then you expand.
Babette: In your book, Me 2.0, you talk about four key areas of emphasis for personal branding: Authenticity, Transparency, Value and Visibility. How do these attributes form the foundation of a solid personal brand?
Dan: Authenticity, which is being the real you. Don’t copy anyone else. .. Visibility, if you’re not visible, you don’t exist to the world. So build your brand, get out there as much as you can, be top of mind. The reason why social networks are powerful is that people will see your name… so you become top of mind, so when they go to hire someone, or work with someone or interview someone, you’re right there. Value… your unique value to the marketplace. Something different from what other people are doing. Again, don’t copy someone else. Invent your own kind of concept. I didn’t invent personal branding, but I figured out how to mold the new technologies with personal branding to create more of an offering, in that sense. So that is what worked for me…. Transparency …is all about being open and honest…. I feel that a lot of people just copy what everyone else is doing, at this point. .. They think it [personal branding] is easy… and they can just copy it. The problem is, the first mover always wins, in my opinion, or has a good shot at winning. .. You need to come up with something you can own, in your own unique way. And something you can be committed to. Because the amount of effort it takes to do all this is substantial. Become extremely good at one thing, and then if it works out well, you can expand.
Babette: We are at the end of the first part of this blog series, based on my August 23, 2011 interview with Dan Schawbel. To listen to the interview in its entirety, you can download it at the link at the top of this post.
My key take-aways:
Use Personal Branding as the catalyst for developing those “soft skills” which make you sought after. There’s no excuse that they didn’t teach you soft skills in school. I’ve got news for you, they didn’t teach any of us those soft skills. We interacted and learned from experience and practice.
Soft skills are acquired through socialization and interaction with individuals. And it can be as simple as going to lunch with a peer or even someone from another department once a week; reading a newspaper and discussing a relevant article with people – any people.
Become comfortable with yourself as you develop your personal brand, and learn that articulating your personal brand doesn’t involve a lecture. Perhaps it starts with just a smile and a few words around the water cooler. The only ingredient that is necessary is you, and your desire to move toward where you see your career taking you, not just your current job title or function.
You have to have a plan for developing your Personal Brand. So when you decide to get started, there’s one person you should seek for guidance: Dan Schawbel. Online, in print, via video, in person. What are you waiting for?