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 take-aways 4,5, and 6 of the top 10 take-aways from our interview. To catch up, read my blog on Part 1 of this interview, and my upcoming blog on Part 3.
Here we go:
Babette: The concept of personal branding is somewhat counter intuitive to the industrial manufacturing sector and technical mindset. These companies and individuals feel they are addressing themselves – other technical professionals – when engaging in a business development discussion. What do you feel these companies are not “getting” in how they perceive branding, in general, and personal branding?
Dan: I think the main issue is social skills. I think social skills are becoming more important…It’s really not about what you know, anymore, it’s about how you can interact with other people. And just doing that online, technically, using these networks, is not enough. You have to be good at connecting with people, you’ve got to be likeable, you have to have organizational leadership skills, you have to have interpersonal skills. I think “soft skills” are becoming extremely important. There was a survey done by CareerBuilder…. 71% of hiring managers preferred emotional intelligence over IQ. .. Now it’s about being able to do the job, being able to interact and fit into the corporate culture, and become a leader, and the third thing which I think is upon us is the age of online influence. Being an influencer has become even more important. …You bring credibility to your position which your company can tap into.
Babette: Manufacturing and service companies often feel that they are giving away secrets when engaged in competitive branding. They tend to hold their cards close to their chests and, therefore, tend to be the “best kept secret” rather than the go-to company or individual. How can they become more comfortable with personal branding?
Dan: I wouldn’t be afraid to share secrets at this point. It goes back to transparency…and visibility. If people don’t know what you do and what makes you special, and they can’t find you, you aren’t going to get the same opportunities as everyone else. I look at the Internet in a much different way than other people. I look at the Internet as a global talent pool. You’re really not going to be able to get jobs any other way, in the future….If you craft the Authentic You online, and tell people what kind of career you want, based on what you’ve already done, and where you want to go, you’re going to attract those opportunities. Positioning [yourself] is really key…. No job is certain. Even with entrepreneurs… Your company can be shut down in two years, or six months, or there could be layoffs at your company… You have to always be building your brand and getting your name out there and networking and marketing yourself, because … the next time you get laid off, you already have the support system in place… You want to be put in a position that, regardless of anything that happens, you have that support system in place. .. and you open yourself up to other opportunities….It’s almost like a safeguard. If all you do is your full time job, you don’t have a safeguard. There’s nothing there. You lose your job and you lose everything. The more projects you get on, the more things you do, the more hirable you are…That’s your true safety net.
Babette: Technical professionals have been “Dilbert®-ized” as a profession, in reference to Scott Adam’s popular cartoon. How can technical professionals move beyond this stereotype?
Dan: I think it goes back to what we were talking about before, having more social skills. And you’ve got to have them, whether you take classes…And the best class you can take is just getting out there, going to events, meeting new people. And you gotta do it, you gotta do it. It’s good for you professionally, it’s good for you socially. It’s a healthy thing to do…And if you’re a person at work, you’re going to lunch with someone different each day, you’ll shed that negative brand attribute.
Babette: We are at the end of the second, middle, part of this blog series, based on my August 23, 2011 interview with Dan Schawbel. If you’d like to listen to the interview in its entirety, you can download it at the link at the top of this blog post.
Soft skills. We all use them, we all need them, and we are all continuing to develop them.
Personal Branding is the catalyst for developing those “soft skills” which can make you sought after. There’s no excuse that you didn’t learn soft skills in school. I’ve got news for you: none of us did! There’s no substitute for experience and practice!
Later this morning (Friday), I’m having coffee with one of my new LinkedIn Connections. I make it a point to speak to at least three new Connections each week: in person or on the phone. It’s practice, but it’s not “work”, because I enjoy a free-flowing, natural interchange. No agenda, just conversation.
Soft skills are acquired through socialization and interaction with individuals.
Ask questions and enjoy the answers. Move out of your comfort level: talk to folks outside your peer circle. 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.