When my blogging friend, Dan Schawbel, sent me a copy of his new book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, it immediately resonated as a tool to tap the online world to help better establish and showcase who you are and what you can do. And, that’s something I spend a lot of time talking about in Career Renegade, too.
So, I asked Dan if he’d be kind enough to answer a few questions for me and here’s what unfolded…
JF: The name of your new book is Me 2.0, so I’ve got to ask, what is the difference between Me 1.0 and Me 2.0?
DS: The title of the book aligns with the transformation of the internet from web 1.0 to web 2.0 and thus, since we’re able to create personal brands online, we’ve moved from me 1.0 to me 2.0. Web 1.0 was a static web, where companies had sales material and had no channels to have meaningful conversations with customers.
Also, for individuals looking to start a career or a company, it was hard to build a lot of relationships in a short period of time and really get your ideas out there to the world. Web 2.0 is the surfacing of community enabled technologies that allow for two-way communication and sharing. Me 2.0 is where individuals can have the same or an even stronger presence than some companies.
You look at the way Facebook has constructed corporate profiles and the profiles that people can create and you can’t differ because we have the same entitlements. Me 2.0 is our ability to be a spokesperson with our right to free speech.
JF: What are the benefits of building a powerful personal brand?
DS: 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 come 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.
JF: How can social media help people break free from their current existence and do what they love?
DS: Just like you have in your book, Career Renegade, my book’s major theme is “command your career.” It’s all about using these social media tools to feel empowered, confident and to really make a difference in your life.
Everyone, especially ambitious people, have the opportunity now to stand out from the crowd, leverage their unique personality and start creating content based on what they’re passionate about. When you combine that with a lot or marketing, determination and persistence, you can do just about anything. Who wouldn’t want to live their dreams?
I would recommend that everyone takes a moment to reflect on their current career path and see if it’s the one that they want to follow for the rest of their life. If it isn’t, then it’s time to reposition your brand, doing what you love.
JF: What hardships have you had while building your own personal brand?
DS: I’ve gone through a lot of hardships as I’ve built my brand, including getting rejected by 69 literary agents, getting laughed at by a few authors and getting picked on as a first-time non-celebrity author. Also, to manage a full-time job, alongside a magazine, blog, book, speaking, consulting and more, it’s been truly impossible to have good time management.
Right now, I’m launching my first book, with my grandfather sick in the hospital, so it’s been really hard. A lot of my friends early on didn’t believe in what I was doing, but now since they see results, they have altered their thoughts. I think it’s all about believing in yourself, holding true to who you are and pushing through adversity to get to the next phase in your career.
JF: What are your top three personal branding tips that you can offer people?
Claim a niche: Entering the internet world as a social media expert won’t get you far at all unless you do social media for a Fortune 500 company. Instead, you’ll want to own a niche online and deliver content over and over again to own those terms in Google. You want to position yourself as the number one person in that niche, so that everyone comes to you for that information and will pay a premium price for your services based on your strong brand name.
Be yourself: The greatest differentiator you have is your own personality. No one else can be like you if you stay authentic and showcase exactly who you are to the world. If you try and mimic someone else, then you will be a copy and people won’t be able to connect with you. You will get a lot of traction out there if you use your own voice over and over again.
Have a game plan: Don’t just brand yourself for the sake of branding yourself. Have a clear destination, along with short-term and long-term goals. Be smart about your branding strategy and don’t use every social media tool because you think it’s cool. Decide how you want to brand yourself, then select the right tools and use them to get your message across.
JF: I imagine many employers would feel threatened if they knew their employees were actively building their personal brand, apart from the companies. What are your thoughts on how both sides should handle this?
DS: Any intelligent company understands that employees are their greatest asset. With marketing budgets depleting day-by-day, companies are going to have to figure out how to do more with less. As you all know from reading this blog, social media is a time expense, not a monetary one. Employee brands already have networking accounted for and they are visible online.
You can see how many Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts and Twitter followers an employee has and tap that network to spread your messages for free. If you’re a startup company, it’s going to be very challenging to break through the clutter that is mass media and stand out. Strong personal brands can be leveraged to consistently and repeatedly get your brand name out there, even if you have no budget.
From the personal brand perspective, we need to make sure we are supporting our corporate initiatives at the same time we have our own agenda. We have unique opportunities to help our companies with their branding, while reaping the rewards ourselves.
You can check out Dan’s new book, Me 2.0, at amazon and booksellers now.
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