Experts Q&A: Build A Better Personal Brand

Dan Schawbel is the founder of research firm He’s also The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. Advantages asked Schawbel for advice on how salespeople can build a better personal brand.

Q: What is a personal brand and why is it important today in business?

A: Personal branding is about unearthing what makes you unique and special and communicating that to the right audience. I always push people to focus on niche because that’s how you can be found.

Q: How have you successfully branded yourself?

A: I’ve created a blog, a magazine, an online TV series – all focused on the topic of personal branding. I’ve also created multiple businesses, authored books, written 1,500 articles, interviewed over 1,500 people and did 27 research studies.

Q: How can busy salespeople find time to build their personal brands?

A: You’re always selling yourself. Even when you’re not even thinking about it, you should be. Everything you do is sort of a branding/selling opportunity. You can’t really avoid that.

Q: Should salespeople send out video resumes when looking for jobs?

A: You have to know your audience, but they can be unique and highly engaging. I’d say invest in good production because if it’s amateur, it’s going to detract from what you’re trying to do.

Q: As you build a brand, how do you decide what personal info to keep private?

A: Don’t talk about political, religious or gender views. Definitely avoid anything that would cause controversy – unless you’re in the business of causing controversy.

Q: Who’s been your favorite celebrity to interview?

A: Hulk Hogan. Part of interviewing is you’ve got to win them over, so I told him I was a big fan. He told me things about his divorce that maybe he wouldn’t tell someone else. Being thoughtful is really important in interviews. It’s not about tripping them up – it’s about trying to get in their head.