What’s your brand?

Was it just me or was Dan Schawbel’s presentation kind of intimidating? I mean look at him. He is only 27 years old, probably wealthy and he has a fun, successful career. According to his website he has been featured in more than 300 media outlets including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and is considered the “personal branding guru.” I wish I were a guru. He simply created his own profession by marketing himself and showing people the importance of branding.

Speaking of personal branding, I am a determined and experienced PR student about to graduate. But to know that there are students and practitioners like Dan with so much expertise, it almost stresses me out. Do I have my own brand? Am I marketable?

There are many ways a person can market and position themselves especially in such a technology driven world. It is important to brand yourself, especially for public relations practitioners ,because that’s how we stand out and have the ability to network. Personal branding can identify an individual as an expert in their field, and if one believes in their talent, skills and ability, it shows and their image is created.

If you ask me, passion and personality are the two most important elements when creating a brand for yourself. If someone doesn’t have passion for what they want to do as a career, then they won’t perform their best and succeed. Personality is also important because by showing your true self and bringing something new to the table, you will stand out and make a lasting impression.

In the presentation, Dan mentioned he would bring a CD to his interviews which would be loaded with his portfolio items. Does using a CD seem outdated to you? Yes, it would stand out and it’s convenient, but I think developing an online portfolio is just as efficient. He also mentioned that he had a business card while still in college and used it when he went on interviews. Should we really invest our time in creating a business card? Does it prove we are more determined and have established “our” brand?

I listened closely to Schawbel’s presentation on Sept 20 because I am three months away from graduating and entering the real world. It is scary to think about, especially since Dan emphasized start applying for jobs as soon as you can. He provided us with great information and resources on how to be different and create an image. But the more people stress how important it is to network and put yourself out there, I worry that I will fall flat on my face if I don’t meet the right people at the right time.

How much experience do we need to successfully brand ourselves?

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9 Responses to What’s your brand?

  1. pperryve says:

    I, also, have a mere three months left before I graduate and Dan’s presentation also intimidated me. I feel like a great part of the stress of personal branding comes from the fact that we are still in school. Day after day, we sit in classes with mostly the same people we’ve been in classes with for the last three years. It is hard to understand that we have to individualize ourselves when we all have similar educations. Dan’s response to this was that our individual personalities were the things that set us apart, which is true, but it is also hard to believe that our entire business life can be based simply on personality.

  2. clangefe says:

    I am also set to graduate in December and not only was I already a little freaked out about it, Dan’s presentation definitely got me thinking even more about it.

    Networking is a huge thing in the journalism world, but what about those of us who only have three months left before entering the real world? Dan’s speech was great and I definitely feel like I learned from it … however, I think those of us graduating soon have to speed up the process a bit (without necessarily knowing how to do that, of course).

    I do think the most important part of branding is being unique and true to who you are. We need to pick what makes us different from the other journalism and public relations graduates and go with it. As Dan said, if we are confident in it and want to make it our career, we will make it happen.

    I think Dan is definitely an inspiration but I don’t think it’s possible for everyone to be as successful as he so quickly. However, I do think his ideals can be utilized for us to be able to land a job doing what we want and using our PR degree.

  3. rmmoore5 says:

    Exactly! How do we individualize ourselves amongst our friends who have similar interests, skills, and the same education? If personality is how we are going to stand out, I want to know how people with quiet personalities are going to make it in such a competitive marketplace?

  4. mbgiles says:

    I graduate in May and also felt intimidated by Schawbel’s presentation. I thought he had a lot of really intense, yet extremely useful things to say. I was inspired to purchase my domain name after I got home from class that day and plan to create my own Website complete with my resume and sample work.

    I think the best way to brand yourself is to be unique, confident, relentless and true to who you are. While networking is arguably the most important way to get a foot in the door, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to find a job based on creativity and persistence alone.

  5. lrstarr says:

    I agree that it’s essential to market yourself prior to and during the interview, but there needs to be some customization according to the company’s expectations. Providing a CD of your work isn’t a foolproof method, and what about us students who have had internships but lack tangible evidence? Rarely, did anything I produced while interning remain unedited and in original form when presented to the media/client. I am already overwhelmed with school, internships and work and now I need to create and sustain yet another unique Internet personality/presence? I think our passion is the only attribute we can fall back on during interviews. If we lack the skills of our fellow applicants, the least we can do is out shine them in terms of exuding passion for the position and authentic knowledge of the company. This includes conducting extensive research to fully grasp the company culture. Either way, most of us are in the same boat, so take solace in knowing we are just as overwhelmed and unprepared as the next soon-to-be-grad.

  6. jjmock says:

    I think bringing a CD to an interview is a little outdated, but they now have flashdrives that are the shape and size of business cards that you could load your portfolio on. I think this a new and updated way to give an interviewer something tangible to look at during and after the interview. I also think being confident in yourself and your ability to learn new tasks will help make an impression on an interviewer.

  7. shuscher says:

    You definitely bring up some interesting points. I agree that the working world can be intimidating, but I really think it just requires effort and research and we can be successful. One of the most important pieces we need is an internship. Every in-class guest speaker I’ve had throughout college stresses this. Luckily, the Cronkite School requires this, so we’re already one step ahead of the game.

    As far as business cards and CD portfolios go, I think it’s just important to set yourself apart in some way. You need something that gives you the edge over your competition. To do this, we must know who we’re interviewing for and what we think will be effective. For instance, if I’m going to interview with Intel, I will definitely take the time to create a Website highlighting my technological skills.

    To answer your final question, we need as much experience as we can get. Every contact we make, however small, is important. So instead of looking at the bigger picture, I think we need to take it one step at a time.

  8. sbfogel says:

    I, too, enjoyed Dan Schawbel’s guest lecture in Dr. Matera’s class on Sept. 20 — but found myself having a difficult time relating. Yes, I think that personal branding is immensely important in today’s world and yes, I think that displaying yourself as a workable/usable “brand” can help land you a job … but doesn’t everyone know that by now?

    When Dan began this personal branding crusade in his early 20s it was a wild card; something totally unknown to potential employers. Nowadays, however, I feel like journalism and public relations outlets EXPECT their interviewees to come prepared with press clips, online/multimedia experience and an incredible portfolio as the BARE MINIMUM. It’s old news. Creating yourself as a brand stands out, but I truly believe that an online portfolio is as common in the journalism world as bringing a hard copy resume.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my expectations for my peers and fellow public relations students are way too high. But is a personalized online Website really going to make or break my job interview process? Who’s to say?

  9. latipton says:

    I loved Dan Schawbel’s presentation. It is extremely important to create a brand for ourselves. The presentation got me thinking about what I’m going to do in December when I graduate. He said to get your brand out there and start networking as quickly as possible with the people we want to work for/with … but what if I’m not sure?

    I have only had one internship so far, and I didn’t love it. I have no idea what I want to get into when I graduate, so should I wait until I find out, or should I leap forward and start getting my name out there and network with people and see where it takes me? I don’t think the latter could hurt. If I stay true to myself and my personality, maybe an opportunity will present itself that I would have never considered.

    For Rmmore5, I think even people who are quiet still have unique personalities that companies seek. Being quiet doesn’t mean you aren’t creative, smart, and much more capable than the competition. Maybe networking is easier over the Internet because an employer’s first impression isn’t that you’re quiet, but rather that you’re engagement in social media and your online presence are impressive.

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