Monday, July 28, 2008

Interview with Dan Schawbel

What is personal branding?

Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.In short, personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. It is as much of a state of mind, as a new management practice. Personal branding screams authenticity, transparency and empowerment! Similar strategies can be applied from product or corporate branding as well.

How does one go about creating a personal brand?

The first step is the realization that everyone establishes their personal brand when they are born. Personal brands can evolve over time and it's your duty to manage it appropriately. Many people ask about "creating a personal branding," but the main focus is on discovering exactly who you are and what you're passionate about. The rest typically takes its course. In the online arena, personal brands need to be created though, such as establishing a profile on a social network, developing a blog or writing an article. Your name and face carry your brand in both reality and virtual reality, such that wherever they are cited, your personal brand is at stake.

How does one use his or her personal brand to his or her advantage in the job-search process?

Offline, your brand is how you carry yourself in an interview or the materials you prepare before the interview. Everything you create can be used for you or against you. In today's world, it's all about having the proper combination of materials, including a business card, cover letter, resume, portfolio (if applicable) and website. Most employers see the typical resume format, therefore it doesn't stand out. You have the ability to come out on top if you creatively display your brand, clearly communicate your value proposition and give them a reason to hire you, instead of the next applicant.

Online, you now can weild the power of attracting recruiters to your own eBrand. That's right, you can be the hunted instead of the hunter. In the past, this was just a myth, but today anyone can leverage their brand to achieve success without even applying for a job, despite the poor economy. All you have to do is find your passion, become an expert and use social media as a channel to get your message across. It also helps to network with professionals in your field because 80% of jobs aren't even listed.

What about for career advancement? Same thing or should people change their brands based on where they are in their careers?

People shouldn't change their brands. They can, however, evolve their personal brand over time, as long as it's legitimate and honest. There is an unspoken difference between image management and personal brand management. Image management consultants seek to refine the individual, in such a way that they are relevant and positively depicted to the media. Personal brand management is about being yourself and showcasing that to the world. In most cases, people change careers 8-12 times in their lifetime because they never sit down to understand who they are, their goals, dreams and what type of company they want to work for. They are told by teachers, colleagues and even their parents to "just get a job," when the real strategy should be to research companies and open positions for the one's that closely align to your personal brand. Your personal recruitment strategy should be targeted.

What's your best advice for someone trying to create a personal brand?

There are four steps to building a powerful personal brand: discover, create, communicate and maintain. The most challenging but rewarding step is "discover." Most people go about their daily lives without sitting down and really contemplating what they want to do or get out of life. I would recommend allocating time each week to research, brainstorm and just think about what you want to do. Use your friends, family, teachers, co-workers, books, blogs and online periodicals to navigate yourself through this step. Personal branding works in two main ways: 1) it's your self-impression or how you describe yourself 2) it's how people perceive you. Identify various attributes that apply to your personal brand, such as "intelligent" or "outgoing" and then poll your network to see if they would describe you in those terms. You must start this today if you haven't already.


Anonymous said...

This is a great interview, you asked the right thought provoking questions to get the most out of Mr. Schawbel. My company has been trying to get in touch with him for advice and tips on how to strengthen your personal brand. We target college students for the exact reasons that you asked, to make sure they have the upper hand an advantage in the job-searching process. As Dan said, "You have the ability to come out on top if you creatively display your brand, clearly communicate your value proposition and give them a reason to hire you, instead of the next applicant." We want to get the students prepared and confident before they get thrown out into the wild, so they can get the job they want. For actionable tips to strengthen your personal brand online, check the Brand-Yourself blog at

Dawn said...

Thanks, Trace. I'll check out your tips.

Prorockstars said...

It is true never give of the hope of your brand. Every word you speak is a part of you brand synergy. The more deliberate practice the more better then good your brand will be. Great article glad i found it through twitter.