Friday, November 21, 2008

Personal Branding 101 with Gen Y's Dan Schawbel

Insider's Note: I spend a lot of time speaking and writing about stationery; how stationery plays a role in creating and communicating your personal brand. But since you're here, you get the idea that I'm a paper-based guy who's had to learn about the power of the Digital Age. I think I've done OK. I've got a Facebook page, write a couple of blogs, use photo-sharing sites and even know how to tweet.

One of my goals in life is to turn the tables; to make web-based members of Gen Y understand the power of pen on paper.

Having said that, I encountered a young man - a member of Gen Y - who really knows his stuff on personal branding. Dan Schawbel is the author of "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009)". His Personal Branding Blog® is consistently ranked in the top 100 marketing blogs in the world. He publishes Personal Branding Magazine®, is the head judge for the Personal Brand Awards® and directs Personal Branding TV®.

Dan kindly offered to write a post about the foundations of personal branding in the Internet age. Now I just have to convince all those Ys out there that pen, paper and stamp add significantly to their personal brand.

Personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. Each and every one of us has a brand because we are constantly being judged based on first impressions. Also, we are forced to sell our ideas and unique abilities to all stakeholders inside a company or as an entrepreneur. The personal branding process consists of the following steps: discover, create, communicate and maintain. By going through this process, you will be able to build a powerful brand and have opportunities come to your doorstep, instead of actively searching for them.

Ten years ago, in a Web 1.0 world, your brand was hidden unless you were an executive at a leading company or a Hollywood celebrity. Now, with the evolution of the Internet into a Web 2.0 environment, every single person has a voice that can build or destroy their reputation and that of their company in an instant. Another major difference is that you needed a lot of mainstream press years ago to make a name for yourself. Today you can start a blog and join social networks for free.

Everyone - from hiring managers to admissions officers and even talent agencies - is scrubbing the Internet, either in search of their next hire or as a background check. According to, 22% of managers screen their staff using social networks like Facebook, and Kaplan says that 10% of admissions officers verify potential students using social networks. There is a massive opportunity for you to position yourself as an extraordinary brand and be recruited based on your passion.

Our brands are held in the minds of others, yet we have the ability to shape their perceptions by coming to terms with who we really are and letting our personal attributes shine through. If you fail to realize what your personal brand is all about, by way of first impression, someone will brand you based on what’s observable. The need for personal branding will continue to grow as competition for jobs heightens, the war for talent rages on, globalization prospers and job security diminishes.

The best bet you have is to start thinking and acting like a brand today!

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