Friday, May 11, 2007

Graduates: Have You Developed Your Personal Branding?

Developing a personal brand will be very important as more and more graduates enter the job market as well as entry level employees begin to look at their next steps in their career. I asked Dan Schawbel to be a guest on Real Women-Real Careers because he specializes in PERSONAL BRANDING.

1. What are the most important 3 things a new graduate should do to establish personal branding?

Graduates already have Personal Brands but require more extensive training on how to create a strong Personal Brand. Here are my 3 tips:

  1. Brainstorm all your interests, values, goals, objectives and personality and make sure they are consistent in everything you may do.
  2. Research other brands that have already been successful and either reach out for them or analyze what has placed them at the top and try and use it as a resource.
  3. Be yourself in anything you may do or achieve and when presenting your core message to your audience. You must use what is in the inside and project it outward, through brand articulation.

2. How does personal branding differ from product branding?

Both Personal Branding and Product Branding are quite similar and mathematically, if you replace the product with the person and form a marketing mix around that person, it will have the same effect. Products are material objects, that are sold through a transaction from interest, being "top of mind" and in the customers evoked set.

A product is a symbol and has special qualities that differentiate it from others in the marketplace (non commodities), just as every Personal is different. The same tactics can be used for both a product and a person because at the end of the day, both need to be sold to the audience.

A product's brand is from the viewpoint of the audience and is based on appearance packaging), personality (overall attitude towards it, how does it make them feel), sophistication (a person's competency) and differentiation (which allows one product to be sold over another).

3. Most people resist being stereotyped. Isn't personal branding stereotyping yourself?

Personal Branding is not about stereotyping, yet one's brand is already stereotyped by it's appearance. The concept concentrates more on personal growth, development and creating a lasting impression with the audience.

It is about focusing on the positive in an individual and mapping it to their audience, which could be a recruiter or someone in their network. Stereotypes happen instantly and individuals can only control their behavior, body motions or attire, but not their skin. Personal Branding hones down on what you can control and that is the major difference.

4. How did you get interested in your career area?

Good question. I actually built my Personal Brand during college, without knowing that it could be considered Personal Branding. I branded myself by diversification and experience, with 8 internships in all marketing functions, 7 leadership positions on campus and straight A's. During interviews I had a great story to tell, from companies such as Reebok, Lycos and LoJack.

By doing this, I positioned myself as an excellent candidate for a full-time position when I graduated and now I work at EMC. Throughout college, my peers always asked me for advice and I started to value the idea of mentoring. I started brainstorming what I enjoyed most out of life, such as helping others, sharing advice and developing my own career.

I stumbled upon the idea of Personal Branding and I knew it was exactly what I had been looking for the whole time. Now I have my own blog on the subject and have written articles for other blogs and major magazines and newspapers.

5. What the interview question that you hate the most and how do you handle it?
My least favorite interview question was from TJX, which was "when was the last time you were in one of our stores." I was truthful, so I told them that I don't shop in stores anymore, but rather use the internet. Of course, they were less interested and I didn't proceed to the next round, but clearly that showed that it wasn't the proper position for me.

6. What's the one interview question you wished they would have asked… and were you able to weave your answer into the interview anyway?

I always wished they asked me how I could be a valuable asset to their company. I say this because my background was so diverse and I know that I could fit into any position in marketing that was open. If I was unable to obtain a spot for the position I was interviewing for, it might have set me up for an interview for a different position within the same company. You just never know!

7. What do you suggest a person does to begin their personal branding?

I call the first stage in Personal Branding, brand discovery. This is where you flush out all your interests, valuable, beliefs, attitudes, goals, objectives and network. The purpose is to have a full understanding of exactly where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. You must have both short-term and long-term goals and they must align for a higher degree of success in the future. Discovery is the most challenging area of Personal Branding because individuals might have no clear path or direction and this is when you would see a Personal Branding expert (such as myself) for further insight and guidance.

8. What are 3 action steps that someone can take to begin to brand themselves?

  • As mentioned previously, dedicate and invest your time in brand discovery, as it will make the rest of the Personal Brand lifecycle much more clear and easier to maneuver.
  • Create your brand and make sure you have an electronic Personal Brand as well. Your Personal Brand online will be extremely important moving forward as the recruiting process moves to the internet. Vehicles, such as blogs, can help you display your Personal Brand in this area.
  • Maintain your brand through constant development opportunities, acquiring new skills and networking with others. Remember that 60% of people get jobs through networking, which means you should use your brand as a tool when networking.

9. What's the biggest "No-no" in personal branding?

Displaying a negative Personal Brand or one that "appears" to be weak. By this I mean that an individual who breaks the law, picks a verbal fight with a co-worker or shows poor team skills. These are examples, where an individual brand is tarnished and it can have a lasting effect. Remember that your brand is always in jeopardy, so be careful with what you do and say to your audience. You will be judged on everything, which also poses an opportunity for you at the same time.

10. What's the one question I should have asked but didn't?

"How do you think Personal Branding will tie into online communities and the web 2.0 craze"?

What a really greatquestion!! I'll follow up next week to find out more! But for those of you who can't wait to find out... I bet you'll find the answer at the Personal Branding Blog

And to you, the readers, what question would you like answered on Real Women -- Real Careers?

Technorati Tags: Marketing, Branding, Personal Branding

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