Most people I know are in a love-hate relationship with personal branding. Especially clients. When you finally come to understand what building a personal brand means and how you should do it correctly, you realize how much work actually goes into this and how easy it is to commit these so-called personal branding mistakes.
Truth be told, nothing is really a mistake if you have a plan or a strategy or if you own it, but the good case practices we’re going to talk about today are certainly helpful as some minimal guidelines, if nothing else.
We’re going to be looking at the top 4 personal branding mistakes that most people make and try to find out how best to avoid them or where it can all go wrongly. If you’re interested in building a strong personal brand, keep on reading.
1. Half-way personal branding
I think this stems from that love-hate relationship we were talking about earlier.
I know the idea of a brand is something that I’m not supposed to care about…but I do think it’s a part of my life, and I’m trying to just be in control of it, as opposed to ignoring it.
– Anna Kendrick via
This is the way that most of us feel when we think about presenting our work and our accomplishments as some marketing campaign for the latest iPhone.
But think of it this way - you’re trying to reach some of the same people with your message. To gain a piece of their (finite) attention, you’re competing on the same channels. So, in fact, you need to think of yourself as a company of its own. With a marketing strategy and a sales strategy.
Your personal marketing strategy will become your brand and it will influence how you sell yourself and your projects. Either you commit to it 100% or you admit you don’t really want to succeed.
Doing things half-way, with some social media posts here, and one event appearance there, with no strategy in mind is a huge mistake. Disparate efforts are not a strategy and they will not bring results.
Our advice: If you’re not sold on the idea of having a personal brand and communicating it properly, sit down with a strategy team. Find people who have built personal brand and managed them effectively. Let them do a professional analysis of what you need and how best to get it.
Also, get in touch with some people who you think have a great personal brand and pick their brain on why they think it’s important and the ROI that they’re getting.
2. Pure bragging
One thing you need to understand about any type of branding is that its aim is to create trust and bring that brand closer to its intended audience. Unless you’re aiming to attract a select group of people who respond to you having attending the same prestigious school, then it’s probably enough to have that as your main selling point.
If, however, you’re on the other end together with the rest of us and you actually have to convince people that you’re worth meeting and getting to work with, then you probably won’t build trust and attract them by bragging with school names and company names. It’s just not enough.
If your description on LinkedIn is just a listing of awards and other brands, you’ll just be presenting those brands. More than your association with them, you want to emphasise who you are and what you’ve achieved, what your passions are and the projects you’re working on now.
Our advice: Imagine you’re in a room with people who have the exact same credentials you have - the same awards, same certificates and the same diplomas. How do you describe yourself to them? What defines you and your work?
Use that to build your personal branding message, along with these credentials.
Also read: 5 Pro Tips For Giving Better Presentations
3. Having a cookie-cutter description
There’s a standard description for everyone who wants to have a personal brand but doesn’t really work on creating one. It includes phrases like “results-oriented professional”, “motivated self-starter”, “social media aficionado” or “marketing enthusiast”. Please stop.
Most of us have become blind to these cookie-cutter descriptions. The word “personal” is not incidental. Show people what YOUR brand stands for, who YOU are, don’t go for the same lines everyone else is using in the industry.
Our advice: Describe yourself in a conversation with a real person and let that be the description you use on your social media channels and website as well.
A human, easy-to-understand and easy to convey description is just what you need. Personalize it with facts and adjectives you would normally use in a conversation instead of the ones you keep seeing in other people’s description boxes.
4. Not expressing your opinion
There’s an internal conflict that many people experience when they are growing a community of followers and fans and they don’t want to say the wrong thing. Most of the times that leads to having no opinion on important topics or, worse, having opinions that change with the season.
When building your personal brand, the “opinions” brick is one of the most important ones because it helps you define yourself and your expertize in the industry. As you define your audience and figure out how to communicate with them, you’ll also need to build trust in your brand by expressing your views on different topics of interest to them.
Not everyone will agree with these opinions but a healthy community will be one that can encourage constructive criticism and value different opinions.
Our advice: Start on the assumption that there will be an X% of people who will disagree with your opinion. Accept that and you can move on to constructive debates that will give you even more opportunities to express who you are and what you stand for.
Once you get the hang of this, it gets easier with every Facebook post or blog entry.
Good personal branding is based on authenticity. Be bold and express yourself but don’t oversell. Your brand is not only about you, it’s also about the people you want to connect with. Instead of worrying what they’ll say or think, focus on how you can help them and have productive discussions.
In other words, focus on building relationships and constantly be willing to incorporate feedback and improve your brand.