One of the key steps in your personal branding journey is working out exactly what you want to project. In fact, it’s the first thing you need to do.
You may want to brand yourself as an innovator, a fountain of knowledge or a creative soul, but whatever it is, the chances are that you’re also going to want to brand yourself as professional.
The loveable amateur rarely has sustained success, but despite this, so many people undermine their personal brand by doing a few simple things wrong. So what are they, and how do you resolve them? Read on…
Overusing Social Media
Social media is the place where many people start with personal branding, and rightly so. It’s a great tool to sell yourself in as an expert, build your profile and share or comment on stories that interest you.
On top of that, it’s not a particularly high intensity way to start with personal branding. Yet so many get it wrong.
There’s a difference between being seen and being invasive. Many people post far too much, and as a result, the quality suffers. While everyone may be seeing your posts because they’re filling up their newsfeed, this is no good if the quality is low. Overly self-promotional and bragging posts should be kept to a minimum too.
Keep what you share on the right side of the quality/quantity line, and you’re much more likely to present a professional personal brand.
Using ‘I’ and ‘me’
While you might think your personal brand is actually all about using ‘I’, research suggests that people use personal pronouns more in communications tend to have the lowest social status. As a result, the studies show that you’re overuse of ‘I’ and ‘me’ might actually be making you appear more inexperienced.
And it makes sense. The more self-conscious you are, the more likely it is that you’ll be keen to make it clear that these are your thoughts, not necessarily the right thoughts. This means that you’ll actually come across as less authoritative than if you choose to state your views outright.
Think about removing unnecessary personal pronouns from your communications and you may find that your personal brand is coming across with far more professionalism and an impressive, authoritarian tone.
Stop saying ‘sorry I’m late’
Note how many times you’re saying this in a week. Whether it’s in meetings, networking events or deadlines, you may find that you’re saying it far more often than you think you are.
If you are saying this too often, it’s time to change that right away. It’s one of the big mistakes people make when trying to build a professional image, and turning up late is seen as a faux-pas by almost everyone. Not only is it disrespectful, but it will never fail to get the meeting off to a bad start.
If you know it’s your lack of organisation getting in the way, take active steps to keep better, physical track of what you have to do each day. If you’re just faced with an overloaded schedule, try to space out your arrangements better and your personal brand will benefit hugely. Three great meetings are always better than five rushed ones.
When people first start their personal branding efforts, many fall into the trap of producing too much. When you’re full of blog ideas, great articles to share and lots of great insight, it’s easy to set a standard that you can’t keep to.
Letting your pages go stagnant actually has little to do with what you’re producing now, but what you were producing to start with. There’s no problem with bi-monthly posts, just the same as there’s no problem with daily posts, but what makes a page looks stagnant is when this regularity changes.
As ever, high quality, insightful output is the key, and whatever timeline you have for producing that, make sure it’s going to be manageable when other things in life catch up with you.
You’d be surprised how many people make this cardinal sin with their personal brand.
It applies to all your correspondence, whether it’s social media, blogging or the emails you’re sending. Take the time to check for spelling and grammar errors please! Nothing makes you look more slap-dash than using the wrong ‘your’ or misspelling ‘receiving’ for the tenth time.
It has the double whammy of making you look amateurish and rushed. On the flip side, a clean bill of spelling health will make you look professional and like you have taken care over what you’re sending.
Careful of your but…
‘I’ve only been in the industry for 2 years, but…’
‘I’m a photographer but right now I work in a bar’
‘I work in PR but I’m looking to pursue a sales career.’
What’s common with all of these? You switch off after the ‘but’. The issue is that however insightful what you’re saying is, everything after the ‘but’ will get lost.
Of course speaking like this comes from a place of uncertainty and you might understandably be weary of being exposed as a fraud. However, if you have aspirations over and above what you’re currently doing, you need to own them.
If there’s no relevance in what you’re currently doing, don’t involve it. It’s just unnecessary information and getting in the way of presenting a united, professional front.
Matt Arnerich works as a content writer over at graduate recruitment specialists Inspiring Interns. He focuses on writing careers advice for everyone from recent graduates looking for their first internships or graduate jobs in London, to experienced professionals looking for senior roles.