I never realized how many personal branding mistakes I was making until I sat down with a branding consultant. Up until that point, I was the most organized procrastinator on the planet. A wing-it-until-I-win-it kind of person, if that is a thing. Many people assume I have it all figured out from the outside, but internally I have no freaking clue half the time. But that put-together persona is the best happy accident I could probably have.
Many of you reading this are probably confused as to why that happy accident matters or why personal branding is even a thing - even as a professional employee who isn’t a business owner. And that is your first mistake, not understanding how important personal branding really is.
For those unfamiliar with personal branding, “Your personal brand is how you promote yourself. It is the unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that you want the world to see you. It is the telling of your story, and how it reflects your conduct, behavior, spoken and unspoken words, and attitudes”. For those of you who are professionals, personal branding is important because it can provide future employers or opportunities with a picture of who you are and what you are capable of. It can be very tricky to sway their opinions if they see your personal branding in a light that you are not trying to portray. Outside of happy accidents, the areas that you may want to focus on to create a curated personal branding output are covered below.
Personal Branding Mistake #1
Heal thy self Healthy self
Know thy self! Personal branding really only works when you know exactly who you are. Being authentically yourself is essential to anything work-related, otherwise, you’ll burn out faster than Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza revival sold out. If you are faking any part of yourself to fulfill someone else’s ideals, you are doing this wrong. Part of what makes you stand out as a job candidate, a professional, or even a business owner is your truest self. There can only be one of you, everyone else is already taken. Additionally, make sure that your authentic self is what is showing up at work or on social media. Job prospects always check out your social media before offering you a promotion or a new job.
Personal Branding Mistake #2
If you build it, they will come - Not when it comes to personal branding, they won’t. Personal branding is something that takes time to build. If you are looking for ways to build up your LinkedIn presence, this is especially important. Sharing articles in your field or niche, commenting and interacting with professionals in your industry or those whom you look up to, and contributing your own articles or blogs, are all great ways to build up your personal branding in an intentional way.
Personal Branding Mistake #3
Don’t assume anything about your personal branding - it’ll make an ass out of u and me. Rethinking your personal branding? This is a great opportunity to speak with colleagues and peers about what you are putting out there. Their constructive criticism will help you better align with what you hope others will see in you. You can ask questions such as, “What impression have I made on you? What are my top skills? What comes to mind when you think of me as a professional?”.
Personal Branding Mistake #4
Throw whatever you want against the wall and see what sticks. Having a personal branding goal in mind will help you define what you need to work on, who your target audience might be, and what you hope to achieve by curating a more defined personal brand. If you’re just starting, you may want to set a goal of developing your online personal branding through LinkedIn. Or maybe you want to be considered for a promotion in the next year, so your goal might be to become seen as more of an expert in that position. Having a defined goal will help your personal branding take some shape.
Of course, you can’t control what others think of you, but you can control the ways in which you conduct yourself as a professional. You can control the skills or tools you learn, the programs you work with, and the certifications you receive. You can control the types of content you create, reshare, and comment on. You can control the personal branding output you conduct in the office and online. Your personal branding shouldn’t be as naive as I let myself be. Heck, even I was reluctant to get on the personal branding bandwagon until I realized that it was already happening without my knowledge of it. Now, I’m a lot more intentional about what I want people to see, hence the happy accident I mentioned earlier.
If you are seeking someone guidance on personal branding, may I recommend Alex Santiago and Aaron Weese. Feel free to contact them and let them know I sent you.