Since the dawn of the new millennium, Personal Branding has been going from strength to strength and is currently being touted as one of the ‘make or break’ factors for career success. Need recent proof to substantiate this claim? How about the inclusion of this blog on the Forbes ‘Top 75 Websites for your Career‘ only last week?
And yet personal branding is not without its (serious) pitfalls. I venture to claim that only a committed and informed minority of those who decide to take it seriously and put it to the test in their careers and their lives end up fully benefiting from it. And this is more often than not the result of them committing one of the seven ‘deadly sins’ listed below which must be avoided at all costs.
1) Dishonesty. Building a ‘fake’ brand that doesn’t accurately reflect on your values, your style and your character is the first (and possibly worst) of personal branding deadly sins. Contrary to popular opinion, a personal brand is not an artificial creation but ideally a truthful reflection of the constellation of elements that define who you are and what you want to achieve. Any compromises you make on the honesty front are a sure recipe for disaster.
2) De-motivation. In order to achieve any worthy goal, a personal brand must galvanize all of your talents and skills, generate enthusiasm and become a self-motivating success story. Problems will sooner or later arise and challenges will inevitably cross your path: unless you are energized by a brand with which you are passionately identified, you will lack the commitment to make it happen and your drive will ultimately flounder.
3) Inconsistency. Ideally your brand must drive one clear and consistent message home to your target audience. Mixed messages confuse people and make them wonder whether you have worked out in your mind what your goals are and how to achieve them. If consistency communicates strength and character, inconsistency irradiates weakness.
4) Isolationism. Even if personal branding may initially appear an intensely individual and even intimate process, the fact is that our personal brands do not exist and/or operate in a vacuum and need the support and endorsement of others in order to succeed. Networking is vital and coming out of your shell and building bridges towards others a must.
5) Self-aggrandizement. If you turn personal branding into a big ego trip, others will be turned off and desert you quicker than you may think. Keeping your ego in check, and adhering to an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses animated by a fair and balanced yet self-critical spirit is one of the bases of lasting personal branding success.
6) Statism. Just like the person behind it, a brand is a living thing; and like every living thing, it must change and evolve and cannot afford to become static for too long before events overrun it and it ceases to attract the right people and opportunities. Be fluid my friend…
7) Over-ambition. Ambition comes in healthy and unhealthy doses. Those intent on achieving goals well above their current station in life who haven’t gotten the knowledge, skills or experience to realistically make it happen should concentrate on acquiring those first before postulating themselves as the next success story. Modern psychology insists that talent is largely a myth and that there was never a virtuoso without thousands of hours of committed practice and a sensible and gradual program to that effect. Wanna become the next Tiger Woods? Work on your swing first and seek to win a local competition before you join the PGA tour in your quest for your first major title.
With honesty, motivation, consistency, friendliness, humility, liveliness and healthy ambition as your personal branding trademarks, I am convinced that your climb to personal branding heaven will be not only smoother and more fun but significantly quicker as you avoid many unnecessary detours. See you at the top!
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is included in the ‘Top Social Media Influencers’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists @OscarDS. He is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’ and the co-author of ‘Marketing de Atraccion 2.0’.