The 3 Biggest Personal Branding Mistakes To Avoid

In today’s digital age, never has it been more important to be aware of your personal brand and how to manage it.
Here are the 3 biggest personal branding mistakes to avoid in your quest to keeping your brand intact.

1. Brand confusion: Jack of all trades. Who are you exactly?
This, in my opinion, is the number one reason people fail to get themselves noticed. It’s a big world out there and there are
thousands if not millions of other people competing for that dream job, blog views and a man. Don’t be disheartened though, where you can make a difference is by defining the key aspects which you most want certain people to know about you. Learn to communicate these, rather than overwhelming people with a range of messages rendering them clueless about your unique value proposition. How many times have you met someone at a party or interviewed a candidate and they are all over the place citing a wide range of abilities across numerous sectors and umpteen interests. The result is usually a perceived lack of credibility. You may indeed possess a wide range of abilities across numerous sectors and umpteen interests from diving to train spotting, however it would be wise to narrow your response to your immediate target audience bearing in mind the areas that would most likely interest them. There is really no need to explain your entire life story and every skill you possess when it will overwhelm your target audience and switch their attention off. Learning how to hone your key messages and deliver them in a concise and coherent way is an art form and with practice and insight, we can all learn to master. Bolster the strength of your personal brand by being consistent with your key messaging and not changing them on a frequent basis. However, do tailor your key messages to your target audience. For instance, your target audience when it comes to dating would require different key messages about you than your professional network.

2. Poor presentation: Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
As the age-old cliché goes: First impressions count! Think about whether you currently reflect the image you want to convey? How many times have you been put off dating a man with dirty finger nails or even worse, long finger nails! Who would want a colleague sitting next to them who doesn’t follow basic rules of personal hygiene and on a summers day smells as bad as a skunk. Presentation of course is not just about avoiding an assault on the senses by maintaining personal hygiene rules but it is always surprising the number of people out there who neglect this very basic rule. Hygiene factors aside, grooming regularly can be time consuming but having well kept nails and hair leaves a positive impression on others as well as boosts self confidence. Paying attention to details such as accessories speaks volumes of the meticulous mindset you claim to have on your CV. We are taught not to judge others on their appearances but in reality can we help it? It is often an instant reaction when we meet someone to assess and visually analyse them. Pay attention to your body language, your mother was right: improve posture, sit properly and look people in the eye with a smile. Remember perceptions do not always align with reality. You may have the makings of a great life partner for the man you have your eyes on or the makings of a great corporate leader, but if you stumble at the first hurdle of first impressions, will you be able to get to the finish line?

3. Neglect: Be proactive. Don’t let Google shape your personal brand. Take ownership.
Given that personal branding is a relatively recent phenomena and we have only witnessed its rise in our social media age, it is common practice to neglect ones own personal brand. Prospective employers often google candidates and those that do not manage their online reputation do themselves a great disservice. I have witnessed employers making decisions not to interview or not to hire candidates on the basis of what they find online and likewise friends who met a potential date and after ‘desk research’ online decided against accepting an invitation to a dinner date. Google yourself, what do you find? Don’t let Google shape your personal brand. Social media platforms often rank high on search results, so you have an opportunity to shape your own personal brand by creating your own personal profiles and updating it with carefully honed content that is reflective of the you, your unique value proposition and your aspirations. Online reputation management is only one aspect of personal branding, and other areas to take a proactive approach include speaker platforms and networking.

With access to the internet, we all have a number of tools available to us to shape our personal brands to leverage and enable us to achieve our life goals. Brand management is no longer just for Coca Cola marketing executives. In todays hyper digital world, branding has democratised and we are now all unique individual brands with our own narratives. What will be your story?

Originally featured in Estylista December 2013.