How unfortunate would it be if, despite all of your good intentions and efforts to build and improve your personal brand, you were actually doing it damage instead?
Of course, we don't set out to do it intentionally. No one ever really means to populate search results with negative content about them; to poison their own well so that when others seek out information about them, they come away less than impressed.
But it happens. See if you're self-sabotaging with these 5 insidious ways you could be damaging your personal brand:
5. Oversharing on Social
Being active in social media is great! Sharing with the public things that you should really keep private to a small group of close friends--not so much.
Potential employers, funders, and other decision-makers don't need to see your newest tattoo, or how fast you guzzled that beer last weekend. In the current climate of constant connection and cameras everywhere, you need to be vigilant not only with the content you post, but with the people you spend your time with, too.
If friends don't respect that you'd prefer not to have videos, photos or other content about you posted without your permission, you may need to rethink spending your time with those particular people (or at least, what you do in their presence).
4. Being an Online Wallflower
You can stray too far the other way, and that's not an uncommon plight. Plenty of us struggle to express our unique point of view. Some are afraid to put their personal thoughts and opinions out there for others to consider and discuss. Others fear they have nothing interesting to say. Whatever it is that's hindering your ability to create written or video content to help build your brand, the good news is that you can combat it with practice.
I've written about how to write a blog post in just 30 minutes, or taking 5 to practice your writing. Give these exercises a shot and practice posting to Twitter, publishing to LinkedIn and authoring blog posts.
If you're really nervous, try having a colleague do a quick read-through before you publish, but don't let your nerves get the best of you. As you publish more, you'll become more comfortable with putting yourself out there and find that the writing becomes faster, easier and more purposeful over time.
3. Lacking in Expressed Purpose
Now, the fact that you're even here reading this tells me you have a great sense of purpose and are actively seeking out ways to build your brand. Make sure you aren't sabotaging your own best efforts with wishy-washy talk on your value and purpose.
If you find it difficult to quickly and succinctly explain what makes you unique, why someone should hire you, and what value you bring to the table, you need to work on your personal branding statement. In the personal branding workshops I offer, we have people work with partners on a 3-step process to better define their mission and value.
In answering a series of simple questions, you begin to get closer to your professional purpose--what it is that drives you to do what you do. Until you understand your core purpose, you'll struggle to explain yourself to others. You can learn more about building your personal branding statement here.
2. Venturing Into Taboo Territory
It's easy to get dragged into heated conversation online and while I'm not saying you should betray your personal values, there are topics you'll be well-served to just stay away from.
The current political climate, for example, has passions running high. Weighing in might make you feel better today, but what are the long term ramifications for your personal brand? If you are entering a joint venture 5 years from now, for example, and someone drags up your Twitter posts from this week, will there be a negative impact on your brand? If you ran for office 10 years from now, would your social activity be an issue?
There's an old saying that you should avoid sex, politics and religion in polite company. You just might want to practice that online, too.
Where did you go?
No, seriously. I can't find you anywhere.
In failing to tell the world relevant, engaging things about yourself, what you're actually saying is that you don't care to put the effort into yourself. Ouch. It's not a great message, is it?
Today, if you don't take the time to build an online presence, it's viewed by other professionals in much the same way as if you walked into a job interview without a resume. It conveys a lack of preparation and effort, which is a huge betrayal of all of the hard work you might be doing in other aspects of your career.
Looking for more helpful personal branding tips? Download my latest book, Introduction to Personal Branding: 10 Steps Toward a New Professional You.