dschawbel1 Dan Schawbel joins us for another exciting episode of Inbound Now, HubSpot's social media and inbound marketing podcast ! Dan is the author of Me 2.0 and who Fast Company has called "the personal branding force of nature." He's been quoted in Businessweek , Inc. Magazine , The New York Times , and more. He's been in the Inc . 30 Under 30 list. He also runs his own agency, Millennial Branding , and he's a professional speaker who travels all around talking about the topic of personal branding.

In this episode, we chat about:

  • What exactly is personal branding
  • Why you should think about building a personal brand
  • How personal branding has changed over the years
  • How to build your brand online
  • Debunking personal branding myths
  • How Dan got to the point where he essentially owns the first page of Google results for "personal branding"

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What Is Personal Branding?

"The way I started was, I was the 'personal branding spokesperson for Gen Y.' Then I became 'personal branding expert' when my expertise was more proven."

Personal branding is about finding what makes you unique and special in the marketplace, and then communicating that through different channels to the people you want to target. It's not about mass marketing yourself.

Start small, choose a niche, and gain visibility. Once you've established yourself, you can bite off a larger market share.

Narrow down your expertise. Don't be just another social media guru or just another personal finance expert. The more you can narrow it down, the better you'll rank in search engines , and the more visibility you'll get. Also, when you become the expert for a smaller group of people, you're the authority that the media will call on for that information.

Why Build Up a Personal Brand?

"The internet is very interesting because it is kind of like the law of attraction. If you really put the true you out there and define who you are, who you serve, and what makes you special and unique, then those types of opportunities are going to come directly to you."

It's empowering to stick it all on the line and announce who you are.

Establishing a personal brand and putting it out there online allows you to attract the type of opportunities you're after. It also lets you be totally comfortable when networking because you'll be communicating the same message in-person.

How Personal Branding Has Changed

"What I've noticed is, it's being embraced on a much higher level, and it's really driven by social media technologies ."

Dan has been following personal branding since 2006, and he notes that personal branding is embraced quite a bit more.

While personal branding has been around for quite some time, it's being pushed forward and made tangible by social media technologies. Everyone can have a platform and build their brand.

Build Your Brand Online

"The real basic thing is, you need your own website. You really need what a lot of people call a 'home base.'"

You need a website. It can be your name (claim your URL before someone else does), or you can brand yourself around a certain topic. Invest the time and money into creating a higher level website in order to stand above the millions of other sites out there.

Research shows that companies are using social networks and search engines when it comes to evaluating candidates. So it's not just about being out there, but also making sure you're watching the messages you're sending via your online activity.

Personal Branding Myths

"No one can really copy you and who you are if you're yourself. That's something that I believe."

Dan mentions the following personal branding myths .

Myth: Personal branding and image management are the same thing.

They're not the same thing. Image management is about controlling your image to fit public criteria. Personal branding is about exposing what's true and unique about you.

Myth: Personal branding is all about job-seeking.

It's more than that. It's about establishing your career, connecting your passion with your expertise, and creating your own platform on top of that.

It's also not just about seeking a job outside of your current company, or moving up the ladder. It's about moving left to right and taking on special projects.

Myth: Online influence isn't important.

Online influence matters now. You need to be able to build your own platform, gain followers, and become influential. If there are two candidates up for the same job and they have the same required skills, the person who is influential in their network is going to be more successful because they bring more than themselves to the table. They're bringing a market that the company can tap going forward.

Myth: Personal branding is just tooting your own horn.

You have to find a balance. You have to give more than you receive. You have to balance contributing value and self-promotion. Figure out what's right based on your audience.

On "Owning" the First Page of Google Results for Personal Branding

"My number one goal when I first started out was to own the first page of Google. I wanted that to be my home page."

Here are the steps Dan took to essentially "own" the first page of Google results for the term "personal branding":

  1. He bought 45 domain names with that term in it.
  2. He developed his blog . His blog name, description, etc. include the term in it. His homepage includes the term 35 times. He was strategic about including the search term on his blog.
  3. He did "the basics" for six months. He started out by writing 10 to 12 posts per week. He commented on every blog he could find that mentioned personal branding. He wrote articles, which provided links back to his website. He networked with as many people as he could.
  4. He scaled the blog . He now has a team of writers. Dan focuses his efforts on writing for other sources, that then link back to the blog.

Dan's Most Important Piece of Advice

"Commit to a topic as soon as you can, because that's really going to help you out. It's going to really focus your energy."

Focus your efforts and find your passion from the get-go, and you'll stand out.

Connect With Dan Online

You can follow Dan on Twitter @DanSchawbel and on his blog , and take a look at his book, Me 2.0 . If you want to find him elsewhere, just Google "personal branding" or "Dan Schawbel."

Also, check out his event coming up, Digital Media 3.0 , to learn more about the latest technologies and how to leverage them to grow your brand.

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Originally published Jul 7, 2011 11:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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Inbound Marketing