Changing Your Personal Brand: Expert Interview with Amanda Hite and Dan Schawbel

A recent survey from Right Management indicated that 84% of employees polled plan to look for new jobs in 2011.  This is an astounding number and, even if only a fraction actually materializes, it means lots of turnover for companies.

It also made me wonder if this means the beginning of a free agent nation workforce (remember the Dan Pink book?)  Does this signal the end of passive job candidates?  Will everyone always be looking for a better opportunity?

If true, this puts a tremendous focus on personal branding and how we are perceived as individuals.  So I asked two of the smartest people I know in the personal branding space to share their thoughts.

Amanda Hite is the CEO and founder of Talent Revolution Inc., an organization that helps companies make meaning and money using social media.  They do talent and branding consulting, internal and external events, as well as public speaking.

Dan Schawbel is founder of Millennial Branding LLC, a personal branding company focused on delivering online branding strategies for both personal and corporate brands.  In addition to holding workshops and corporate seminars, they publish Personal Branding Magazine as well as the Personal Branding Blog and Student Branding Blog.

Dan, can you describe in a few words, the concept of personal branding?

Personal branding is the process by which we unearth what makes us special and unique in the marketplace and then communicate our value to the right audience. While first originating in 1997 on the cover of Fast Company Magazine, personal branding has become part of the career vernacular, due in part by the proliferation of new social technologies, including blogs and social networks. Your brand is an expression of your true authentic self.

Amanda, why is personal branding important?

Two of the most important factors in having control of your own Career security today are the effectiveness of your personal brand and network.

If someone wants to know about their brand, is there a litmus test for individuals to identify their personal brand?

Dan:  Everyone already has a personal brand. People are judging you based on first impressions all the time. Your first job is to ask for feedback from your inner network so that you know how you come off, and can thus manage those impressions. To be successful in today’s marketplace, you have to play to your strengths, have a clear mission, and a set of short-term and long-term goals that you’re committed to. Ask yourself what your favorite classes and activities are, and identify what your talents are. It’s a good starting point for pinpointing where you should invest your time going forward.

Amanda:  Authenticity and Purpose. Being true and honor yourself above all.  Know who you are, your passions, principles. Define your talents and purpose.  BE THAT.  Everything you do (your actions, words) everything you engage in (be it projects or people), every aspect of your brand should communicate those things.

Can a person change their personal brand?  What would be their first step?

Amanda:  Yes.  But only if they have changed, their purpose or passion has moved in a new direction.  Your personal brand must always represent THE AUTHENTIC, UNAPOLOGETIC you.  If it doesn’t it will not be effective or at the very least it will not be sustainable.

Dan:  You can always change, evolve, or completely reinvent your personal brand. As you grow, mature, and gain new experiences, your interests may change. You should always portray the authentic you at that point in time and promote it to your audience the way you deem appropriate. Your first step is to update your online presence to convey your new message.

I want to thank Amanda and Dan for sharing their expertise.  If you want to learn more about personal branding and how it can impact your career, be sure to check out Amanda’s blog and company site as well as Dan’s blog and the revised and updated version of his book Me 2.0.

There’s been a lot of talk about personal branding in recent years, but IMHO the conversation is just starting.  People might be conscious that they have a brand and maybe even what that brand is … but as individuals start to look for new and different opportunities, they face the possibility that their brand will need to change.  And being able to deal with that change is critical to personal success.


  1. says

    Love this article. All of us have a personal brand…but how many are aware of it? What do we do to clearly communicate it?

    The stats on employees who are unhappy in their jobs and will be looking to change are staggering and a little bit scary. Points to a real revolution in how HR needs to engage and communicate with employees. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore. Are you up to the challenge?

  2. says

    Thank you for covering this article! The first step as Amanda rightly said, identify your core qualities and strengths, review with your close network to validate your assumptions and work towards them.

    If you are ok, I would take the liberty to mention we wrote up an article on personal brand recently with statistics from Kelly Global Workforce
    Satish Sallakonda recently posted..Kelly Global Workforce Statistics for Personal Branding

  3. says

    @Elizabeth – Thanks for the comment. I agree with you about managers getting ready for a challenge. Especially if an employee’s personal brand is stronger than the manager’s (or the company’s.) It’s a new dynamic that most of us have never experienced before. And, something we will be seeing a lot more of.

    @Satish – Thanks for the comment and sharing another resource. Always appreciated!

  4. Subas says

    to an extent i agree especially with thie fact that many a times , we see people coming out with brands that are alot stronger than their managers. One could also ask the question of whether we equip people with ability to understand their own brands or is it a case of learn by normalising to your environment for if you are different , you are not normal. A trend society battles to break

  5. says

    Hi Sharlyn, I enjoyed the interviews that you offered here with some of the best in the business. I really do think branding is one of those things that we practice from a young age. Children brand themselves to fit into school, teenager’s brand themselves into the right sort of peer group and as we get older many people create the opportunity to branding themselves in business.
    Most importantly I agree with Amanda’s comment on “Authenticity” Being authentic on a personal or business level creates something which is more powerful than anything you can buy. Taking it to the next step would involve an individual or corporate becoming “Radically Transparent” which relates to a book that I read several months ago by Andy Beal. Easy to say, hard to do in practice for a lot of people, however I believe the people who choose to walk in these footsteps are heavily rewarded. If any individual takes part in this type of approach it basically makes branding considerably easier. No need to back pedal here. Food for thought….