No standard book review today, folks. Today, we are changing it up. Today, I’m going to give you a peek into my conversation with Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0, and his latest book — wait for it — Me 2.0: Revised! I think it’s been just over a year since his first book was released, and as you’d imagine in the super-speedy world of social media, he’s already had to revise and update the book.
So rather than review a revised book, I thought it would be more useful for you to be the fly on the wall of a phone conversation I had with Dan. But first, you need to know that Dan and I have been working together for a few years since he asked me to be a contributor to his publication Personal Branding Magazine. The nice thing about having that kind of relationship with an author is that I felt a lot more comfortable asking him questions that might put him on the spot. So come on in to my office and listen in:
Q: What was the single defining moment that made you realize it was time to update Me 2.0?
Dan Schawbel: To be completely honest, my publisher e-mailed me requesting an updated version, and I agreed because I realized how much technology had changed in a little under a year. I also had a lot of new material that I could include, and I wanted to make it a bit more relevant to other age groups, not just Gen Y. My audience has grown to be mainstream these days, and executives are primarily the people that hire me for consulting. It’s also very important that the book is updated with the latest tools and strategies so that people stay relevant with the times, and ahead of the pack.
Q: In what ways is this latest edition different from the first?
Dan Schawbel: The book has been expanded from 220 pages to 288 pages in length. There are new case studies, from people of all generations, on how they’ve used the Internet to become well-known brands. There’s an additional chapter on how to use the top social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, for job searching, with real success stories. There’s new insight on the entrepreneurship aspect of personal branding, and new tools you can use to network professionally and grow your experience. I touch on Google, profiles, mobile branding and location-based networking. There is also updated research and examples and more resources.
Q: What are some specific changes that have occurred in the world of social media that have impacted personal branding?
Dan Schawbel: The most significant change is that we’ve entered into a phase of the Internet I call “the age of resistance.” We live in a world that is completely opt-in now. You can subscribe and unsubscribe from just about anything, and since there are millions of content choices now, it’s becoming harder to stand out and build a significant community. People are resisting nonbranded websites and clinging to brands that they know, like and trust, such as CNN.com and TechCrunch.com, which was just sold to AOL, another brand people trust.
To give you an idea of how competitive it is to get noticed, there are over 2 billion tweets per month, and over 200 million blog posts have been published on WordPress.com blogs alone. You’re competing with an endless sea of content! Personal branding is much more important now, because if you brand yourself as an expert in a niche field, you can become known through the long tail. Forget using social networks as marketing platforms; it doesn’t work. There’s just too much noise. You need to establish one-to-one relationships instead.
I also think it’s important that people realize that in the future, we will only be browsing the Internet through a mobile device. As a brand, you need to be where people are searching for you, whether it’s having a mobile application or a standard website.
Q: Has personal branding moved into the mainstream yet?
Dan Schawbel: I know for a fact that personal branding is a global phenomenon, especially in Brazil, Malaysia, the U.K., South Africa and India. There are over 8 million search results for personal branding in Google, and if you look at Google Trends, you can see the uplift too. Mainstream magazines are very interested in personal branding. I know because I was just interviewed for Men’s Health and ELLE, two magazines that you would never think would talk about this material. There are thousands of personal branding consultants, and I read in a science magazine that it’s the tenth hottest profession of 2010. I have also set Google alerts for personal branding, so I have a good sense of how many times people are writing about it and in what geographies. It simply amazes me!
Q: What are the consequences of not discovering your personal brand?
Dan Schawbel: If you don’t control your brand, then someone else will. If you don’t bother discovering who you are and how you want to brand yourself, then you will not have a stable career, and will simply be lost. Also, you will be part of the clutter since you won’t have any distinct qualities or a firm position in the marketplace. You need to be the go-to person for something, whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur. If you aren’t top-of-mind, then you aren’t in mind, and therefore won’t receive the same opportunities others will.
Q: How has your personal brand evolved since you first started practicing personal branding?
Dan Schawbel: I’ve transitioned my brand position from “personal branding spokesperson for Gen Y,” to “personal branding Gen Y expert,” to “personal branding expert.” I shifted from spokesperson to expert once I had the knowledge, case studies and third party endorsements. I shifted from Gen Y expert to expert because my audience changed, so I wanted to capture the larger population. If you look at all of my Amazon book reviews, Me 2.0 was always cited as a book that was cross-generational.
I also started my company, Millennial Branding LLC, in January, after being a full-time employee and part-time entrepreneur for over three years. This shift has forced me to look at my daily activities differently, including how much time I spend on social networking.
Q: What’s been your biggest personal branding mistake and how did you fix it?
Dan Schawbel: I’ve made a lot of branding mistakes over the years, especially when I first started off. My biggest mistake might have been that I didn’t treat my passion as a business in the beginning. Because of this, I failed to monetize and take advantage of certain opportunities, which stalled my growth and made it more difficult to sell to my audience later. The best way to fix [this problem] is to see revenue opportunities upfront and build products are services on the backend.
I see a lot of people just building a brand for the sake of doing so, which isn’t a smart move since it takes years to create a successful brand. You really need to hone in on what you want to do for the rest of your life, and then take steps each day to get to your end goal.
Q: Who do you think is the best “personal branding” example out there and why?
Dan Schawbel: I really like Oprah’s approach to personal branding. She has her brand on every single platform, so you can’t miss it, and her audience knows that she will be there. She has a magazine, radio show and TV show, and is active on social networks. Oprah has assembled an incredible team to support her brand, and she can basically open up any door she wants because she understands how to leverage her brand to network with the best in the business.
Q: Thank you, Dan.
Should You Buy The Book?
I can’t tell you what to do. But if you don’t already own a copy of Me 2.0, now is a good time to pick up the revised version. According to Dan, the first book was more focused on younger job seekers. But the new edition is jam-packed with strategies that include CEOs, professionals and even employees.
No one will be exempt from having a personal brand. If you want to be chosen, then your audience will need a quick shortcut to know why they are choosing you — and that is what your personal brand does. If you’re not sure whether you have a personal brand, or if you’d like to make your personal brand more powerful, pick up a copy of Me 2.0, Revised.