5 Minutes with…Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is a personal branding guru.

Says who? Well, his 93,000 Twitter followers, and a maxed out Facebook account (5,000 friends) speak to his credibility. He’s the author of the international best-selling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, and recently started Millennial Branding, a consultancy that specializes in online branding solutions for people and businesses. His blog is syndicated by Reuters, Forbes, Fox Business, and other major media outlets. As far as gurus go, Schawbel is early to the game. At just 27 years old, he was ranked among Inc.’s 2010 “30 under 30: America’s Coolest Entrepreneurs.”

Recently, Daria Meoli spoke with Schawbel about using social media to stay relevant, and drawing a line between business and personal.

Daria Meoli: What is a common mistake business owners make with personal branding online?

Dan Schawbel: Childishness—posting something online that might damage your company. I did that once with Best Buy. I wrote about how I hated Best Buy and how the employees treated me terribly in the store. But they turned out to be one of my client’s clients so I had to take it down.

Another issue is that people are too promotional online. For instance, in a blog comment they’ll put their websites, and you’re not supposed to do that. It just looks bad. People aren’t dumb.

DM: How can business owners who are too promotional on social media be smarter online? How can they engage an audience?

DS: If a business owner tries to engage with everyone it’s going to be really hard. No one has that much time. You’ve got to choose just a few platforms in the beginning so you don’t start spreading yourself too thin. Pick a platform (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that you’re comfortable with and invest time there. Create a schedule. Are you going to post a few times a day? What are you going to post? What are you going to say? For people who struggle with deciding what to write, I always say the best readers are the best writers.

The more you pay attention to what’s going on, the more you’re going to have to say. I skimmed through 1,500 blog posts this morning to catch up with the past three days. For me, my whole business is based on how relevant I am. If I miss on the latest trend in my industry, I’m in major trouble.