Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Building Your Personal Brand With Social Media

The Internet has become an incredible resource for developing your career, networking, job searching and more.  No longer are we only given the opportunity to show employers who we are through a one-page resume.  In 2010, we can create our own website, blog, Facebook profile, LinkedIn profile and more.
We have the power to define our own brand promise and create new ways for business connections and hiring managers to find us every day.
This week, I had the opportunity to interview Dan Schawbel, author of the No. 1 international bestseller, Me 2.0, about personal branding as the second edition of his book prepares to hit stores.  I was particularly interested in learning what Dan thinks about personal branding via social media as it applies to men vs. women in the business world.  Keep reading to learn his insightful answer to that question and more.

Susan Gunelius: How is the new version of Me 2.0 different from your first, highly popular edition?
Dan Schawbel: Since the first edition of Me 2.0 came out in mid-2009, technology has changed rapidly, new research has become available, and there have been more case studies available. This edition has more advice and examples for older generations, who read this book out of curiosity and necessity because they are unhappy with their jobs, can’t get a job or are looking for support in dealing with new technology.
There’s also a new chapter on how to use social networks in your job search step-by-step, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I see this chapter becoming extremely important to the millions of job seekers right now who are using traditional methods that are no longer relevant, including classified ads and job boards. There are also new recommended tools and resources, and more advice on Twitter and other networks that weren’t as popular in 2009.

How has online branding changed in the few short years since the first edition of Me 2.0 was released?
We’ve entered what I call “the age of resistance.” There is so much content online now, and so many advertisements, that it’s become harder to get noticed and to get your message out there. For instance, there are 2 billion tweets on Twitter each month (from Twitter’s CTO), and there are 500 million people on Facebook.
Personal branding is how you identify what makes you special, and then communicate that to the world. The advice in Me 2.0 has become more important because the internet is the global talent pool, and if you want to be in that pool, you need an online presence, and if you have an online presence, you need to manage it. There’s simply no way around it right now!
People need to be able to find you online if you want to attract new opportunities and have a successful career. Me 2.0 will walk you through the personal branding process: discover, create, communicate, and maintain. In the second edition, each step has more advice and tactics that you can use to become known for something, and achieve success.
How does branding influence entrepreneurship in 2010?
Aside from establishing your company’s identity, you need to create your own online presence as an entrepreneur. I recommend that entrepreneurs brand themselves as expert sources in something that relates to their company idea. For instance, if you own a bakery whose customers are students at a nearby college, then you’re the “bakery expert for students” and you can talk about what baked goods students purchase the most, and your favorite recipes. When entrepreneurs become experts, they are able to get media attention, and use those opportunities to promote their companies.
How can an individual monetize a personal brand?
Great question, especially since most people waste so much time on social networks these days. There are numerous ways to make money if you’re building your personal brand, including blog advertising, consulting, speaking, royalties on book sales, eBook sales, social network advertising, and endorsements, to name a few. You should be creative with your business model, and figure out a long-term monetization plan, because some of these strategies will only work when you have a significant follower base.

What are the biggest personal branding mistakes that you see being made, particularly in the online space?
One mistake that’s commonly made is creating an online presence but failing to monitor and manage it. By having your last blog post dated 2009, you’re showing employers that you’re not committed. When you establish your online profiles, there’s an expectation that you’re going to be delivered fresh content on a regular basis. It’s your promise to your audience. Another problem I see is when people over-promote themselves online, putting links within blog comments, or just using their Twitter profile as a promotional tool. This doesn’t work and actually makes you look bad.

How would you explain the importance of personal branding for career development to businesswomen vs. businessmen?  What steps can businesswomen take to develop their brands and boost their careers in the male-dominated business world?
The same career and branding advice I give to men, I give to women. Everyone in the world needs their own website (yourname.com), existence on only the top three social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), and enough time to dedicate to ensure each property is updated and relevant. The Internet puts everyone on the same playing field, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to be judged in and out of the workplace.
Figure out what your personal mission is, your long-term and short-term career goals, and what you truly want to be known for. Then base your personal brand around that, and use it to network with other people in your field. The possibilities are endless and the results are real.

About Dan Schawbel
Dan Schawbel is the author of the upcoming Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. He is known as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, and the Founder of Millennial Branding, LLC. Dan operates the syndicated and award winning Personal Branding Blog, and publishes Personal Branding Magazine. Recently, he was named to the 
Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list.

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