According to Dan Schawbel (a recent guest on Making a Living), the rise of the internet as a connector is enabling a new breed of worker, one who creates opportunity for him/herself by becoming known for authentic passions, interests and talents. (I couldn't agree more!)
If you've never thought about managing your career as a personal brand, Dan (who has over 99,000 followers on Twitter and over 5000 on Facebook) says you're missing out.
On my radio show, Dan shared key concepts from his best-selling book Me 2.0 including his four-step process for job seekers and experienced professionals to discover, create, communicate and maintain a powerful personal brand.
Dan walks to talk and has lived his own advice. I asked him to share his career story and best advice for you to create your own powerful brand...
Q: What makes you passionate about branding?
A: The term “branding” has always been used when talking about marketing products and services, yet it has a major impact on how we manage our careers and personal lives. Branding is mysterious since we’re not always positive about how we’re portraying ourselves and how people perceive us. The internet has created a world in which our first impression is no longer a handshake, since our pictures and backgrounds are easily viewable after a single Google search. Branding is empowering and forces us to be our natural selves. We can all cultivate our own following and connections based upon our passions and expertise. I’m most passionate about branding because of the impact it’s had on my own life, giving me direction, and a sense of purpose, that I couldn’t have gotten any other way.
Q: Did you always know this was the path for you? If not, how did you find it?
A: During my senior year of high school, I had my first internship cold calling companies, and after over one thousand calls without any success, I realized that I wasn’t meant to do sales. When I started college, I took it incredibly seriously, and got straight A’s my first semester, which was a major accomplishment since I never believed I could do it before. This achievement gave me great confidence for the next four years.
After deciding that marketing was my major, I realized that I needed internships if I was going to get a job after graduation in this competitive field. I created a set of materials, including a CD portfolio of my graphic design and website work, a business card, a website, resume, cover letter, and references document. I ended up with eight internships during college, including Reebok, Lycos, and LoJack. It took me over a year to get an internship at Reebok because those internships typically went to the sons and daughters of Vice Presidents. I never gave up though, and it became one of my greatest accomplishments of college, yet it wasn’t a very fulfilling work experience. I had also started a consulting business during my junior and senior year, working on websites and marketing plans for small businesses.
At the beginning of senior year, I applied for jobs and decided that I wanted a product marketing position at EMC Corporation. It took me eight months, meeting fifteen people, and getting rejected twice, to land the job I wanted because I was too afraid to network back then. During my last set of interviews, I noticed one very interesting thing. Out of everything on my resume, the interviewers were most fascinated about my Reebok internship, even though I got almost nothing out of that experience. This was the first time that I truly realized the importance of branding.
After a few months working at EMC, I started a blog called “Driven to Succeed,” which gave advice to students on how to get internships and jobs. This later turned into “Personal Branding Blog” after I read Tom Peter’s “Brand Called You” article in Fast Company, which was written in 1997. After reading Tom’s article, I realized immediately that personal branding was my passion, my career, and my future. I had never been so confident in anything in my life. The second after reading his article, I was researching to see who the voices were in this space and I couldn’t find anyone from my generation. I decided to brand myself as the “Gen-Y personal branding spokesman.” After blogging ten to twelve times a day, writing for sources such as About.com and Brandweek Magazine, starting Personal Branding TV, the Personal Brand Awards, and Personal Branding Magazine, Fast Company profiled me. The profile was published exactly ten years after Tom’s article came out, so I knew it was fate. The article led to Google asking me to speak on campus and to EMC hiring me internally as their first social media specialist. As Tom highlighted in his article, the most creative and smart employees will establish their own unique role at their organization. Once I was recruited for this new job based on my online brand, I wrote a book proposal and eventually published Me 2.0, and that has led to my own company called Millennial Branding.
Q: Is social media a fad or do you feel it's here to stay?
A: Social media will be an integrated part of our lives forever. Here are some important facts and figures that prove the importance and acceptance of social media:
--Facebook is worth 50 billion dollars and has 600 million users.
--The average web user spends .2 hours more on social media than email (TNS, 11/2010).
--By 2012, 88% of companies will be using social media tools for marketing purposes (eMarketer, 12/2010).
Social media has permeated all areas of our society, including politics and pop culture. I care more about what social media means for our careers. 80% of companies are using social networks and search engines for candidate background checks. The internet has flattened hierarchies and allowed for connectivity so you can contact hiring managers directly instead of applying to jobs aimlessly.
Q: For people who are just getting started thinking of themselves/their careers as brands, what’s the easiest first step?
A: The first step is by far the most challenging Maggie. Professionals need to figure out how they fit into the world, what they’re passionate about, what their true talents are, and then commit to short-term and long-term goals. Sometimes you have to experiment until you find something you like, and other times it comes directly to you. Either way, you have to be the commander of your career if you want to be successful in this ever changing job landscape. (I have found it's not as hard to figure out what you want with the right Soul Search, Research and Job Search support.)
Earlier this month, I blogged about how SMART goals can increase your chances of actually achieving your New Year's Resolutions. (See "How SMART Are Your New Year's Resolutions?") Now I have a video series you can watch to set SMART goals!
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound and is based on success research by Locke and Latham.
One of the keys to setting SMART goals is to make sure your goal is positive and forward-looking not focused on what's wrong. Forward-looking goals create a mental picture of what you're going after which can motivate and excite you to make your goal a reality.
In my experience, this interest in self-employment is increasing.
Just last week, I was speaking with a client who in an inspirational burst, saw her vision clearly and encompassed our soul search and research work into her own unique business idea. She was ecstatic!
Perhaps you have a business or career idea that lit a spark within you and made you ecstatic about possibilities. Perhaps you have them all the time. So the question is, are you an entrepreneur?
To determine if you’re really an entrepreneur, I find actions speak louder than words and the answer can be found in asking yourself one simple question -What do you do with your big ideas?
Nothing - For some, staying in the idea stage is safer because having never been tested in the real world, their ideas theoretically always have a chance of success.
Use it in conversation only - For others, their ideas make for great fodder in conversation but they have not real intention of ever moving forward.
Make use of it - Yet for some, their big idea takes prominence, gets attention and energy and gets implemented. They may fail. They may succeed. But every entrepreneur I have ever met or read about said they had to give their business idea a chance.
The client I mentioned falls into the third category. She’s ready to make use of her big idea and her first step is to share it with knowledgeable people she trusts who can help her refine the concept further. Then it’s all about action –a step-by-step plan to take her idea from concept to reality. Is she nervous? Yes but is she happy? Yes! For the first time in her career, my client is taking charge and as scary as it is to put her idea to the test, she’s ready to be an entrepreneur.
If you’re thinking you might be ready too, tune in today to my career advice radio show. I’m interviewing Barbara Corcoran – a D student in high school who found her passion in her own real estate business, which she sold for $70 million in 2001. Now she’s The Today Show’s real estate expert and the female shark on ABC's Shark Tank. I have heard her speak - you’ll love her fresh, tell-it-like it is attitude!
Is the economy in recovery? No one knows for sure but you CAN increase your chances for better opportunities this year by finding ways to shine on the job.
Vicki Salemi author of Big Career in the Big City appeared on my SIRIUSXM radio show this week. Given her experience as a Big 4 recruiter in the growing field of professional services, Vicki had great advice for taking advantage of a rebounding economy. In case you missed my show, here are highlights:
Vicki's Advice to Shine on the Job:
Check your old mindset at the door. Be cognizant about your attitude because it creates our outcomes. Only think positively, this is the year to thrive, shine, and even make new mistakes! Be ready to think differently and also do things differently.
Make the most out of a lean staff. If you’re overworked, make the most of the situation by highlighting your accomplishments and ability to multi-task, learn new things and work with new people. This could be a real coup to talk up during a job interview.
If you’re actively job searching, really analyze where your efforts are going. Are you spending most of your time online (i.e., LinkedIn)? Calling former colleagues to network? Lining up a coffee or lunch meeting every week? Going to networking mixers? Really sit down to figure out where you’re getting the most mileage and create a plan to explore new venues that maybe you overlooked (i.e., industry conference, cold calling a potential employer).
Stay on top of it! If you’re a passive job seeker (i.e., somewhat content in your current job; kind of happy you weren’t downsized but secretly yearning for a better opportunity), now is the time to pounce. Networking will hopefully be stress-free since you’re not pressured to get a new job and most of the fabulous external opportunities won’t make it to the job boards.
Create a new elevator pitch! Examine what’s been working for you and what hasn’t, and mix up the words a little bit! New year, new you, new pitch. This could be a fun task and overflow into other areas (i.e., new ‘do, new interview suit, spruce up the resume.) Think of it as a mini-makeover.
Do internal networking! Often times this is overlooked but keep your eyes peeled on the internal job board and be ready to pounce. This means always ensuring your internal visibility as at its top game (i.e., volunteering to attend additional meetings, highlight your accomplishments/not being bashful), so when you do apply and speak directly to the hiring manager, hopefully they will have already heard of your work.
Thanks to Vicki for sharing her fresh ideas on how you can shine on the job this year. Also a freelance journalist, make sure to check out Vicki's articles on careers and entertainment for Forbes.com, The NY Post, The Daily, Yahoo!, PsychologyToday.com, OKMagazine.com. Find links to them all on Vicki's website!
The average overnight success takes fourteen years. To have the career of your dreams, it's the daily actions that make the difference. Just ask fellow SIRIUS XM radio host Mario Bosquez.
Every week, in addition to my own radio show, I make an appearance on Mario's show Living Today to share career advice and inspiration. Tuesdays at 3:30p ET/12:30p PT we take calls (866-675-6675) and discuss any and all job-related topics from: soul searching to find your dream job, to researching growing fields to job searching with fresh interview strategies.
Call in anytime you or a loved one has a career dilemma!
Besides having a fun time, I've learned a lot from Mario too. He knows a thing or two about managing a great career and has many accomplishments to show for it, including having a James Beard Award-nominated radio show.
Here are the career insights I've learned from Mario:
Be versatile - Mario has been a success not only in radio but in television as well. He was honored by former President Bush for his coverage of the Colombia earthquake. He's also a published author of "The Chalupa Rules", has performed on Broadway and has had recent success as a burgeoning playwright. I know there's even more to come from Mario who truly does love to "learn something new" everyday.
Go the extra mile - When interviewing for his job at Martha Stewart Living Radio, Mario not only had his resume ready but also a full binder demonstrating his portfolio of work. Mario also made a cake for his interview with Martha to demonstrate he had the culinary skills as well as broadcast skills to do the job.
Make friends today, contacts tomorrow - From day one, Mario made me feel welcome on his show. He's also offered guest suggestions and contacts for my show. Mario builds genuine relationships and offers to help others BEFORE he needs anything. It's a great way to make friends and build a network.
Join us each week by tuning into SIRIUS 112/XM 157 Tuesdays at 3:30p ET/12:30p PT and feel free to join the career conversation with your comments, advice, ideas and questions. Mario and I love to hear from listeners at 866-675-6675.
Here's to you making a great living and living today!