One-on-One Interview: Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Guru

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we share tips and advice from friends, colleagues and key experts in PR and beyond. One person who has great wisdom on how to brand yourself is Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, LLC & author of Me 2.0. We caught up with him recently to get his insight about personal branding and leveraging classic PR and marketing techniques to stand out in the workplace.

What skill or technique have you, yourself, used to get ahead or get a job?

The best technique I learned was to gather new skills outside of work that would be relevant to my internal career path. I was stuck in a product marketing role and wanted to be in social media marketing back in late 2007.

By starting a blog, establishing myself on social networks, and then constantly marketing myself every single day, I became a better marketer and more valuable to my company. The result was that I was able to create my own unique role within my company called “social media specialist.” Ever since then, I’ve been following my passion, honing my skills, and have been continuously innovating.

“By being the go-to-expert in your company for a specific skill, you will become more valuable, gain visibility, and be in a good position for a promotion.”

2. Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

The workplace environment is extremely competitive and political at each level in the pyramid. If you want to be successful, and be promoted, you will have to become known for something. By being the go-to-expert in your company for a specific skill, you will become more valuable, gain visibility, and be in a good position for a promotion. If you don’t stand out, you will get walked on and become expendable.

3. What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

The best PR advice I’ve ever received is to not spam journalists and reporters that you don’t already have a relationship with. Today, I received the worst PR pitch I’ve ever seen. Instead of saying “Dan, would you be interested in interviewing the CEO of XYZ,” they made it very impersonal and said “”Hi [FIRST_NAME|Colleague].” What this does is notify me that I’m on their list without permission, that they didn’t take the time to speak to me personally, and that they are careless. Some bloggers would post their press release and hurt their reputation. It’s to your benefit to pitch to fewer more targeted journalists than do email blasts.

4. What’s an example of when you’ve been your own best publicist?

Between March 14th and August 1st of 2007, I established a blog, magazine, awards, and online video TV series. I then worked for several months to get Fast Company interested in my story, since they had published Tom Peter’s original article on the topic of personal branding back in 1997. I was eventually profiled in Fast Company and that had an extraordinary impact on my career, including my social media position at my company and Google asking me to speak at their campus.

5. What are your top networking tips?

First, don’t try and connect with everyone in the world. Instead, focus on people you’re actually interested in, and you’ll see much better networking results. Give value to others without asking for anything in return and create mutual partnerships for long-term relationship building. And, reconnect with your network all of the time and network before you need to.

“The best way to stand out is to analyze what everyone is doing in your market, and to do something different.”

6. What’s your advice for developing a relationship with someone you don’t know?

If you want to develop a relationship with someone you don’t know, figure out a way to help them in some fashion. If you have a blog, interview them. If you have knowledge that they need but you see that they don’t have, then share it with them. It becomes easier to develop relationships with successful people when you become one of them.

7. How important is it to break through the clutter when you’re trying to stand out—and what’s the best way to do so?

Breaking through the clutter is all you can do to stand out and it’s getting tougher every single day. You have to be creative and position yourself so you are “the” person in your field for a specific audience. The best way to stand out is to analyze what everyone is doing in your market, and to do something different.

8. What’s an example of a creative way you have attracted attention for an idea, yourself or a client?

Back in late 2009, I developed one of the first iPhone applications as a blogger, which was a big deal back then. I was one of the first seven, along with other thought leaders including Guy Kawasaki and Brian Solis. Now, most of the leading bloggers have this type of presence and distribution. If you were to create a basic iPhone application now, it wouldn’t be as creative as it was. It just shows that you need to be one of the first to do things if you want to be unique.

“If you sit in the passenger’s seat, you won’t be able to compete, so become the driver of your career.”

9. Do you use social media and the Web to market yourself or further your career? If so, how?

I’m very involved in the social media world because it’s part of my business and lifestyle. I have five Facebook fan pages, a LinkedIn group, and a Twitter profile that I’ve had for over three years. It takes a long time to build a following and to gain support for your career, but if you’re passionate about what you do and you work hard at it, people will want to become part of your world. I use social media to market myself by blogging, writing articles for major online sources, and be becoming a trusted media source.

10. What’s your best tip for how to get what you want at work?

You have to be extremely aggressive at work, which means that you have to take on more projects than are in your job description. You need to meet other people outside of your organization, and you have to deliver hard results that can be measured. If you sit in the passenger’s seat, you won’t be able to compete, so become the driver of your career.

11. What do you think is the best/worst recent example of managing your reputation?

A recent article just came out in the Wall Street Journal that exposed a lot of individuals who lost their job because of their explicit social media updates. People get fired for not acting with their employers brand in mind or by being careless about what pictures they publish.

What are you doing to build brand YOU?  Let us know here, on Facebook or on Twitter (@BestPublicist).

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Job Coach, Courtney Wiley and Sylvia Hubbard , Meryl & Jessica. Meryl & Jessica said: New blog post: Advice from @DanSchawbel, Personal Branding Guru http://fb.me/yp86KqZe […]

  2. […] an interview we did with personal branding expert Dan Schawbel for our blog, he said that he’d recently “received the worst PR pitch…ever seen. Instead of […]

  3. […] Be Your Own Best Publicist co-author and I did with personal branding expert Dan Schawbel for our blog, he said that he’d recently “received the worst PR pitch…ever seen. Instead of saying […]

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