Mistake 1: Not knowing who you are.
It may seem simple, even silly. You might be thinking, “of course I know who I am!” But the first, often-neglected step in personal branding is to clearly define your professional identity. You can’t market a message you haven’t identified! You need high-impact, easy-to-understand bullet points that communicate the essence of who you are. Once you’re clear and consistent about your identity and offerings, others begin to see you as a trustworthy, reliable expert in your field, and you can communicate your expertise both in-person and online. (Recent data shows 85% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals report the heavy influence of online reputation in hiring practices, so those profiles are important! Click here for more info.) Trying to sell yourself to potential employers without defining your personal brand is like buying furniture before you buy a house—is this job even the one you want? Does it fit with your goals? Will it take you in the direction you want to go? Take the time to first delve into who you are. You’ll emerge with the clarity of purpose that will pay dividends and set a clear course for your future. You’ll know how to easily answer interview questions and effortlessly make memorable impressions on others. Please see our other blogs about personal branding for more information, or book your consultation today for one-on-one help defining your personal brand.
Mistake 2: Worrying too much about what others think of you.
Career coach Joseph Liu says “Having a strong personal brand means unapologetically standing up for something you believe in.” All of us want to please our employers, coworkers, friends, and families. It’s natural. But worrying too much about whether you fit someone else’s ideas of success can distract you from your purpose and goals. You might be nervous about putting your professional image out into the world, fearing criticism from others. Some may not be familiar with your professional identity, or you might be shy about putting out an image of confidence and mastery. The truth is, if you have taken the time to define your values and vision, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is professional success as defined by you. You can’t please everyone all the time. Focus your efforts instead on being true to yourself and doing the work to courageously put yourself and your gifts out into the world.
Mistake 3: Not defining your niche.
Who is your target audience? If you’re speaking to everyone, you’re likely speaking to no one. Make sure you’re putting your message out to the people who will be interested in hearing it! If you aren’t targeting your message to the right audience, it’s likely getting filtered out as noise. Within your field, what kind of expertise do you offer, and who would be looking to hear from you? Use the right social media network to build and target that audience. Find more advice on identifying your niche here.
Mistake 4: Inconsistency.
If you post and disappear, what does it say about you? Being active within your niche community online grows your reputation and your personal brand. Building a reputation for expertise online and in person takes committed effort over time. Don’t just post your thoughts, engage with people on your platform! Be consistent not only in your presence but in your content choices. What you’re building is a trustworthy reputation—make sure all your content is high-quality, high-value to your followers, and aligned with your personal brand. Commit yourself to a set schedule for developing, posting, and responding to online content—even a consistent 15 minutes a day is a good start. Fantastic tips about building an online personal brand can be found here.
Mistake 5: Thinking it’s easy to build a brand.
There aren’t shortcuts. This work takes time and consistent effort, even when you’re tired and busy and would rather do something else. Building your personal brand is incremental work that when put together, can make your dreams reality. You must take the long view when it comes to building your reputation. Small actions, consistently, over time add up to big results, but you have to be brave enough to first invest in yourself and then follow a defined action plan. We can help!
Mistake 6: Not being authentic.
Tell your story. You’re the only expert on you! Being honest, even vulnerable, is a way for people to connect with who you really are. All of us know what it’s like to hang out with someone who’s pretending to be someone they aren’t—not very much fun! They might have inconsistent stories they have to try to keep straight, stilted or unnatural behavior, or unpredictable responses. Humans sense inauthenticity from a mile away and avoid it. Conversely, people respond positively to messaging that feels real. Don’t put out the messages you think you “should” put out—put out the messages that really communicate something about you, whether that is your passions, your gifts, or your struggles. If you’re being you, authentically, you’ll attract others and empower them to do the same!
Inspired, but unsure where to start? Schedule a personal branding consultation with Laverah today!