Dan Schawbel is a personal branding expert, consultant, author and speaker. Dan is the managing partner of Millenial Branding, LLC, author of the best selling career book Me 2.0, and is a columnist for BusinessWeek and Metro US. Not to mention that he’s been called the “king of personal branding” by Inc. Magazine. Dan’s achieved all of this and much more, and he’s still under 30 years old. Read more about Dan on his site www.danschawbel.com
1. Dan, how do you define personal branding and why is it so important?
Personal branding is the process by which you unearth your unique value and then communicate it to the appropriate audience. Branding is important because it creates loyalty, meaning, and a trust with your audience. Your brand is your single greatest asset, separating you from the competition.
2. Why did you decide to focus on personal branding and build your business around that?
I learned how to brand myself in college, where I had eight internships, seven leadership positions, and my own consulting company. When I went on interviews, I had a business card, portfolio, and my own website, which separated me from other applicants. When I graduated, I started an educational blog that showed students how to get internships and jobs. That blog eventually turned into PersonalBrandingBlog.com after I read Tom Peter’s “Brand Called You” article in early 2007. I’m where I am right now because of determination, creativity, and fate!
3. You’ve accomplished a lot. Consultants and freelancers often find staying motivated a challenge. You seem to have conquered this, what’s your secret to staying motivated and getting so much done?
The secret to being motivated over a long period of time is to take on several different projects. For me, that means publishing a magazine, running an events business, writing books, blog posts, and columns, speaking, in addition to consulting. Since I’m diverse, it allows me to stay active, and to cross-sell and market between platforms.
4. What’s the biggest or most common mistake you see people making when it comes to their personal brands and how can they avoid making it?
The biggest personal branding mistake I witness every day is laziness. People create social network profiles and don’t even bother to fill them out completely. The result is that they can’t be found online by people with shared interests, and thus they lose opportunities. When you don’t complete your profile, you also appear more as a spam account instead of an actual person. This can hurt your brand because you won’t have the visibility needed to stand out, and you won’t appear professional.
5. You’ve received an incredible amount of press. How did you get this kind of publicity and can you share a few tips for others that want to get publicity for themselves too?
In order to get press, you need a good defence, as well as a good offense. What I mean by that is that my websites rank very high in Google for keywords, such as “branding expert,” “personal branding,” “personal brand,” etc. When journalists and reporters are looking for an expert for their story on personal branding, they find me immediately and call me. When it comes to offense, you need to be very connected in your community, reach out to journalists who have written articles on your topic, and start local before you go national so you have experience interviewing.
6. Has your age ever been an issue for you when trying to land new clients or speaking opportunities? If so, how have you countered or worked this to your advantage?
My age has been an issue since the beginning, four years ago. People view young professionals as having no experience, and thus don’t have as much credibility. For me, I’m living proof of what I’m selling, plus I’ve used the same strategies for the Fortune 200 company I used to work for. I also published my first book at age 25, which gives me a lot of credibility. After landing my first few major clients, it’s been much easier to persuade others. If people want the top personal branding expert, they come to me first.
7. Between writing, speaking and consulting you must have a very busy schedule, how do you break up your day or week to fit all of this in? What kind of schedule or routine do you have?
My strategy, at least for the past year, has been to do what I want, when I want to do it. I only prioritize when an important project is due in the next week. I usually wake up at 9 AM and go to sleep at 2 AM every day. I’m used to this schedule now so it doesn’t bother me. I used to work more hours when I had a full-time job (plus my company), but have cut back recently because it’s important that I have a social life.
8. What does “work-life balance” mean to you, and in your eyes do you have one?
There is no work-life balance if you’re an entrepreneur or you want to have a very successful career. You have to sacrifice your social life sometimes if you want to build your brand and establish yourself. For over a year, when I was writing Me 2.0, I had no social life, but now I’m able to have the freedom to do what I want and that’s powerful.