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Eric Kuhn

Eric Kuhn

Posted April 7, 2009 | 11:48 AM (EST)

"Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success"


Dan Schawbel is the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. He is the author of the new book Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, as well as the publisher of the award winning Personal Branding Blog. Me 2.0 came out today and already jumped to number one on the Job Hunting book on Amazon. I spoke with him about his new book and how you can build your brand via social networks.

It would be an understatement to say finding a job in this economy is hard. So how do you suggest undergraduates go about finding a job?

In order to find a job now, you have to be open-minded, a risk-taker and focus almost all of your energy on networking. Job boards are depleting and old methods of applying for jobs aren't holding strong. Your best bet is to break through the clutter of resumes and target hiring managers directly through social media. The greatest part about the web right now is that everybody is on the same plane, using the same websites, with the same features and benefits. You can have a Twitter account just like a CEO or P Diddy or Comcast can. Hiring managers are accessible to you and you have the opportunity to interact with them, learn about them and their companies, and possibly get a job. In this way, you're conducting a people search and meeting professionals that can actually get you the jobs, instead of waiting for your resume to come out of the black whole, known as job boards.

Aside from being an aggressive job seeker, you also have to establish your own personal advertisements in order to be found by recruiters and capture their attention. To do this, you need to assume the role of a content producer, not just a consumer. This means that you should either start a blog or a podcast series, where you can contribute to your community and position yourself as an expert in your field. Also, recruiters are already searching for people just like you on social networks, so you have a competitive disadvantage by not joining them.

It is not only difficult finding a job, but also an internship, right? What are the statistics?

There were 2.6 million job losses in 2008 and a few more million expected this year, with no sign of recovery. Right now there are 10 million job hunters for 3 million jobs and that ratio will be expanded over the coming year (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). For undergraduates specifically, there are 22% fewer jobs, 21% fewer internships and 11% fewer co-ops (NACE).

Aside from these negative statistics, it's important to understand that the top talent has nothing to worry about. If you have a strong track record of results, then your career should accelerate during this economy, especially if you become more visible online and offline.

There are many self-help books and books about how to sell yourself to employers. What makes Me 2.0 different?

Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success is the first book written by a millennial (I'm 25), for the millennial generation, about personal branding and it is the paramount book for using social media tools to build a personal brand. Me 2.0 follows my journey through social media, while walking the reader through my proven 4-step personal branding process (discover, create, communicate, maintain). It also includes over forty expert quotes from leaders including Don Tapscott, Libby Sartain, Penelope Trunk, Guy Kawasaki and David Kirkpatrick. There are more than seventy research reports, three personal case studies and enough tips to keep you occupied for hours. Regardless of your career path, this book is your handbook for surviving and thriving in the digital age. It will help turn your passion into reality and give you the confidence needed to carry out your dream. Me 2.0 isn't about getting a job, it's about creating your career and commanding your future.

What have you found to be the biggest mistake people make when trying to brand themselves on social networks?

Most people don't complete their social network profiles. They also don't understand their audience, so they share personal information with those that they shouldn't, including managers and co-workers. All social network profiles should be filled out the same way to give you a consistent brand image. For instance, you'll want to use the same picture and avatar across all your profiles, so that people can recognize you. It's hard to brand yourself when you aren't giving out enough information about who you are. Make it a point to complete your profiles and keep them up-to-date.

How should people use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter differently when trying to build their brand?

It really depends on your career strategy and how you want to use each tool to communicate with your audience. For example, you might decide that Facebook is your hub for just your friends and family, which means you won't accept friend requests from coworkers. This profile might be protected from the outside world through Facebook's privacy options. You might use Twitter to build a strong following in your city to meet friends or you might decide to use it as a marketing device to attract employers or sell products. LinkedIn might be a place where you network actively to find a job or build a mastermind group of professionals that can become a source of revenue for you.

For a career minded professional, I think you should put your best foot forward on Facebook, open up your profile to the world and share your expertise. On Twitter and LinkedIn, you should become a resource in your niche and give value over time. If you do both, then you won't have to worry about applying for a job; it will come right to you.

You personally have made Dan Schawbel into a great brand. What did you learn in building your brand that you wish you knew from the start?

Thank you. I've learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses over the past few years and have focused my energy completely on my strengths, such as web development, graphic design, analytics, SEO and all things social media. I would say that the most important thing I've learned is that successful business relationships aren't one-night-stands. Building relationships takes time! For instance, if you connect with a journalist or some successful individual one day and then ask for a favor two months in the future, you'll be out of luck. Instead, if you cultivate a relationship over a longer period of time, you will be much more successful when seeking help.