It can be difficult to talk about ourselves, especially when trying to promote our skills or experience. But for entrepreneurs, building a personal brand is critical to success. The notion of the “personal brand” gained momentum with the rise of social media, as a vast ocean of communication filled up with competitors and strong personalities. Theories and approaches on how to build your brand vary. But there are some traps every entrepreneur should be careful to avoid when putting together their brand strategy.
1. Lack of Focus
No one person can be everything to everyone, and this is particularly true in the professional field. While a diverse skill set is a great thing to have, a jack-of-all-trades approach to your personal brand is likely to dilute it. Focus on what kind of persona you want to create for your brand, and throw out everything that doesn’t fit.
In their eagerness to cultivate their online image, many entrepreneurs act without a solid strategy or a plan of attack. They join various social media platforms, put together a website, and start giving out promotional materials without a clear goal or strategy in mind. A good brand should be consistent, have a message, and stick to that message. This is true for corporations, and it’s true for individuals.
3. Constant Negativity
Most everyone loves a good takedown or a witty, sarcastic Tweet now and then. Even big corporations can gain notoriety by checking another corporation on social media. But a constant stream of negativity drags people down and detracts from your image. Stay positive, upbeat and passionate when dealing with others, and people will respond positively in turn.
4. Lack of Conviction
Just as constant negativity can drag down your brand, so too can a desire to get along with everyone. You can stay positive and still have strong, well-formed opinions on things. Don’t be afraid to express your opinions with conviction and honesty – just make sure you can back up your arguments, and avoid getting in brawls on social media.
As long as we’re talking about conviction: make sure those stands you’re taking are for things you actually believe in. Lying, prevaricating, exaggerating, making outlandish promises, and being disingenuous will all backfire on you eventually. Your audience is smart — they’ll know when you’re not playing straight with them.
6. Failure to Invest
Many business owners and entrepreneurs think posting a promotion to their Twitter account and a Facebook page once a week is enough to build a brand. It isn’t. It takes time, effort, and engagement to build a brand, and results will not happen overnight. Don’t consider your personal brand something you do every once in awhile — everything you do in your professional life should work toward building it. If your brand has gone stale, get those profiles up to date, freshen up your logo, order some slick new business cards, revamp your website, and reinvigorate your image.
7. Lack of Engagement
Finally, don’t forget that building a brand doesn’t take place in a vacuum. The word “personal” is a vital part of the equation — for real branding success, you need to engage with followers and customers and build relationships with them.
A personal brand is not easy to build. It’s an ongoing challenge that will change as the marketplace changes. The blunders above are easy to fall into. But don’t worry: even if you’ve already made these mistakes, you’re hardly the first. Learn from the experience and use that knowledge to make your brand even stronger than before.
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