Sure, you might fire off a tweet every now and again, but are you really helping or hurting your personal brand?
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
From Amanda Bynes to Charlie Sheen, we've seen countless celebrities who have completely ruined their personal brand as a result of some pretty wild stuff. DUIs, dog fights, controversial tweeting habits and other bad behavior have quickly destroyed their goodwill with the public and ruined their careers.
Whether you're the founder of a startup or simply trying to take the next step in your own career, few things are more important than a strong personal brand. When done right, your personal brand can help you showcase your strengths, build credibility and stand out from the competition — all essentials for lasting growth and success.
Now, you hopefully won't ever be guilty of a major crime or a racist tweet, but chances are, you're still doing things that hurt your personal brand. In fact, many budding entrepreneurs hurt their brand without even realizing it. Don't let these habits derail your chances for success.
1. You don't have any clear-cut purpose.
Why do you want to build your personal brand? It's an essential question to consider as you define your voice and goals. Far too many people start trying to build their personal brand with the vague goal of wanting to "become an influencer." All too often, this results in a messy situation where you try to be all things to all people.
Instead, take the time to determine what your goals are. Do you want to share knowledge from your own experiences so others view you as an expert? Do you want to demonstrate your worth to potential employers? Are you trying to increase publicity for your startup?
Understanding the "why" will ensure you keep your messaging and actions on-track.
2. You routinely engage in shameless self-promotion.
Building a personal brand will obviously require a fair amount of self-promotion. But, if you're an endless self-promoter (especially online), you'll have a hard time gaining much of an audience. Too much self-promotion, and you'll be just another bland voice lost in the advertising mix.
Some experts recommend that you only use 10 percent of your posts (or conversations) to self-promote. With the rest of your time, highlight interesting facts or industry news through social media and blogging, while still sharing your perspective.
3. You blend in with the masses.
You're super enthusiastic about blockchain technology? That's great — but there are countless others who are just as ambitious and competent as you. Emphasizing your education and past work experience isn't a bad thing — it's often necessary to start building credibility. But, in most industries, this isn't going to set you apart.
Related: Does Your Reputation Need Rehab?
4. You neglect traditional channels.
These days, most influencers are able to accrue a large following through blogging and social media. It can be tempting to think you're following in their footsteps when you do these same activities. But, old-fashioned, face-to-face interactions still provide a lot of value — and if you ignore these, you will miss out on valuable opportunities to build your personal brand.
Networking events and conferences are a great way to build new relationships, including those that could help you further your career goals. Even volunteering for a local public speaking event can give you the opportunity to demonstrate what makes you unique. If your relationships exist entirely online, you won't make nearly as strong of a lasting impression.
5. You don't separate yourself from your business.
Startup founders often put so much focus on building their brand's influence that they fail to fully distinguish their personal brand. You and your company are not the same entity — don't mistake building your startup for personal branding. If you leave the company behind, those branding efforts won't carry over to your next endeavor.
As Ben Larcey, co-founder of Store Kit has explained, "It's very hard to build your personal brand if you are constantly tied to your company's marketing. Blogging on your company website or being the voice of your company's social media profiles can be good for your business, but if you are serious about building a brand built around you, then you need to take steps to separate your business and personal brand. A simple website with an 'About' page and a blog is all you need to get started."
Related: How to Build Your Online Reputation
6. You under-deliver time and time again.
Far too many companies have fallen into the trap of over-promising and under-delivering.
This can easily occur with your personal brand if you're not careful. While you may not be promising your followers a new product, they still have certain expectations from you as you build your online influence.
For example, you might tell your followers that you'll have a new blog post for them every week. But, what happens when you miss a week? Two? As you fail to live up to your promises, you'll lose the trust of your target audience. As a result, you'll lose followers and influence, perhaps permanently undermining your personal brand.
7. You have poor social media habits.
These days, social media is a key part of building your personal brand.
This is especially true of those hoping to become thought leaders in their niche. But, if you've spent any time on the internet, you know just how easy it can be to get sidetracked in a controversial debate. It's better to stay away from these touchy subjects.
As personal branding consultant Mel Carson notes, "Weighing in might make you feel better today, but what are the long-term ramifications for your personal brand? If you are entering a joint venture five years from now, for example, and someone drags up your Twitter posts from this week, will there be a negative impact on your brand? If you ran for office 10 years from now, would your social activity be an issue?"
8. You are inconsistent.
Consistency is essential when developing a marketing strategy for a company — shouldn't you be just as consistent when developing your personal brand? Without consistent messaging and actions, you lose a sense of identity. Worse yet, you can easily lose credibility and trust.
Just like you would create and circulate a brand guide to ensure consistent brand messaging, so too should you focus on maintaining an identity in your voice, actions and unique value propositions. Doing so will prove your professionalism and authenticity and help you earn the trust of others.
Commit to building the right brand.
As you learn to recognize these bad habits and take steps to correct them, you'll be able to build a strong personal brand that helps you achieve your personal and professional goals.
You may not attain the type of star power that gets the paparazzi to track your every move, but you will have something even more valuable: strong relationships with customers and coworkers that ensure you'll have lasting success in the years ahead.