You have a personal brand, whether you think about it or not. Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s how your colleagues, associates, friends and acquaintances perceive you.
You might think that your personal brand is in good standing because you work hard and produce good results, but you may be surprised to hear that a successful personal brand goes far beyond technical excellence. When it comes to personal branding, everything counts. Here are five ways you may be unintentionally sabotaging your personal brand:
1. Not paying attention to how your personal brand is positioned. You might be falling into this trap if you have never really thought about your personal brand before, or if you’ve just assumed that the way you want to be perceived is actually how others are seeing you. Often, there’s a gap. Minimising that gap requires conscious effort. You need to have a strategy to position your personal brand so that you are known for the specific traits you want people to recognise in you.
2. Being inconsistent. I often tell clients that consistency is better than occasional flashes of brilliance. I’d rather hire someone who produces good work every time than sometime who occasionally gives me a brilliant result but lets me down 90% of the time. Think about areas of possible inconsistency in your career. Do you make great emotional connections with people at networking functions and then never follow up? Do you occasionally forget to show up for meetings? Examine your behaviour, communications and interactions and ensure that you are consistently portraying your personal brand in the best light possible. You need to consistently deliver on what you promise to build a successful personal brand.
3. Not identifying and targeting the right people. You can’t build an effective personal brand if you have no idea who you’re targeting. Think about your objectives and then identify the people who can help you to achieve them. They are your target market, whether it’s your peers, your boss, the EXCO team or a recruitment company. Once you’ve defined your market, start to plan how you can make a great impression, show them the value you can deliver, and find ways of consistently demonstrating your personal brand attributes to them.
4. Neglecting opportunities to embed your personal brand. The effort you put into marketing your personal brand will only yield results if it’s relevant and makes an impact in your target market. Every interaction is an opportunity to embed your personal brand, from how you behave at a networking function to the way you respond to emails. Make sure that you see every situation as an opportunity to demonstrate your personal brand promise.
5. Always being a sheep. Copying what your competitors are doing is not enough. Effective personal brands stand out from the crowd by packaging their unique strengths and talents in a way that delivers value to the target market. This may mean you need to take a stand on certain controversial issues. As long as you can back up your argument with credible information, expressing your opinion may offer you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be seen as distinctive.