Towards brave new worlds ...

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Welcome to another book review/interview feature!  This one, while having aspects applicable to the management of anybody's career, is specifically targeted towards the younger "Generation Y" folks just getting into the job market, who could best use the "Personal Branding" advice given here.  The concept of "Personal Branding" is, to some extent, the "personal brand" of author Dan Schawbel whose book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success has spread like wildfire across the web.

The concept of "Me 2.0" is a re-imaging of oneself from being a simple undifferentiated individual to being one's own Brand, for which one fills the roles of CEO, CPO, CIO, CFO, CMO, etc.  (and you always wanted a "C-level" job!).  In order to achieve this, one needs to muster up a good deal of focus, develop a wide array of skills, and have a single-minded determination to succeed.  Again, the book is largely aimed at 20-somethings (the author himself is a mere 4 years out of college), and is somewhat of a 21st Century "How To Succeed In Business" manual for those just starting out on their professional careers.

The utility of the book for those already established in their working lives is more variable (I doubt many people would find a listing of my collegiate extracurricular activities particularly germane to any position to which I would be applying), although the middle section does have quite valuable step-by-step instructions for how to do a wide range of "Web2.0 and beyond" functions, which could be quite handy for those of us who pre-date Web1.0!  More details on all this are in my review.

Below the cut are Dan Schawbel's answers to my interview questions (including a bunch of links to some very interesting web resources) ...

Q:  Briefly, what's your background?

A:  My background started in graphic design and web development in middle school and then in college my focus was on marketing, with eight internships covering all areas. I had worked at companies such as Reebook, Lycos, and LoJack, while having my own web design company, holding seven leadership positions in student organizations, before I graduated from Bentley University. During this time, I learned how to market myself on my own, yet disregarded networking because it made me uncomfortable. In 2006, I started my first blog called "Driven-to-succeed," which later turned into "Personal Branding Blog" in early 2007 and ever since then I've come out with a book called Me 2.0, a Student Branding Blog, Personal Branding Magazine and have been doing a lot of speaking and consulting for brands.

Q:  Have you had notable job-transition experiences?

A:  I recently had a major career transition from a full-time employee at a Fortune 500 company to a full-blown entrepreneur, focusing on my personal branding passion 24/7. This transition took over a year. I had said to myself "the only way I can quit my job is if there is enough demand for what I do outside of work." This was smart because if you just quit your job without enough cash flow coming in, it could have a negative impact on your life.

Q:  Why did you decide to write a "personal branding" book?

A:  Personal branding has been a passion of mine even before I started my blog. I had called it "marketing yourself" previously and had not known about the concept of "personal branding" until I read Tom Peter's "Brand Called You" article in Fast Company Magazine, which was published in late 1997. Me 2.0, the personal branding book that I published, was the first book of it's kind to mesh social media and web technologies with real-life branding strategies for individuals looking to have successful careers. Some of the other books that had come out before didn't focus on social media. I really had no writing experience before I started my blog, but practice makes perfect and a blog allows you to become a more proficient writer. The book grew naturally out of the blog.

Q:  If you had just ONE piece of advice for today's job searcher, what would that be?

A:  Think twice before you publish something online. One Facebook update or tweet could have serious ramifications on your career if you're not careful.

Q:  What do you feel makes your book unique?

A:  Me 2.0 is unique because it's the first book to have a process around how to use the internet to build a personal brand and manage it.

Q:  How can "pre-Millennials" out in the job market best apply your book?

A:  Most of the content in the book is general advice for people of all ages, but it starts out with stories and examples that millennials can relate to right now. Non-millennials can learn a lot about blogging, social networking, what the future will look like and how they can prepare today for it.

Q:  Aside from your book, what resources do you recommend?

A: You can read the Personal Branding Blog, Student Branding Blog, Personal Branding Magazine, and I would join BrazenCareerist.com if you're a millennial and read blogs such as Lindsey Pollak's, Alexandra Levit's, Untemplater, and Modite. For corporate career advice, I would go to Polly Pearson's blog and Keppie Careers by Miriam Salpeter. You should also register your domain name (yourname.com) at MyDomain.com and get a Google Reader account and a Delicious account so you can consume media and organize it.  Make sure you have a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account as well.

Q:  Any additional words of wisdom?

A:  Before you start using social networks to blast out messages, have a game plan. You need to really decide how you're going to brand yourself before you start engaging online. Ask yourself "what do I want to be known for" and "what are my strengths and how can I capitalize on them." Also, don't try and position yourself as a marketing or social media expert because there are already enough of those and you won't stand out. Take some time and really narrow your focus to a specific audience.

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