11 Common Mistakes That People Make With Their Personal Brands

This is a guest post from James Adams.

People often brand themselves as an expert in a field or an authority on a topic, but are careless with the way they present themselves, calling into question their expertise, and injecting doubt into the minds of potential customers. Here you will find 11 common mistakes that people make with their personal brands and suggestions that will help you avoid them.

Inconsistent Behavior

Customers tend to value consistency. That’s why Coca Cola strives to produce its products so that they taste exactly the same no matter where they are made or sold. Similarly, you should be consistent in your thoughts and opinions as you present them. If you are supporting one product today, try to avoid turning against that product tomorrow, barring any unforeseen or unknown information. If you change your opinions or positions too often, customers will begin to question your credentials, something that will have a devastating impact on your personal brand. Define your thought patterns and opinions so that your brand is always consistent.

Lack of Detail

If you are an expert about a topic, you should be able to discuss it in detail. When you avoid questions or cling to generalities, you convey the impression that you do not actually have the understanding and the experience required for someone in your position. This diminishes your value and leaves your credentials suspect. Show that you know what you say you know: doing so will establish your brand.

Oblivion

If you are an expert on a subject matter, you should know the latest news, findings, and opinions about it. People often advance themselves as a technical expert on a brand, but seem unaware when that brand is in the news for having a defect or a major product announcement. If you say that you are in the know, people expect you to know something: when you don’t, your personal brand gets hurt. If you are to represent your personal brand as one that is expert, you should at least take the time to stay up to date with news, trends, and opinion.

Poor Communication

Whether you write with bad spelling and grammar or speak with slang and poorly conceived sentence fragments, you are going to have a hard time selling your brand to someone who has developed a certain amount of decorum. Even if you have mastered essential material that helps you support your own brand, you sabotage yourself when you neither speak nor write correctly. Take the time to listen to yourself talk. Read your own writing. Get a handbook of style and learn how to communicate with properly constructed sentences.

An Army of One

If you are such an expert, than why is your personal brand completely unknown? To have credibility, you need to have other people in your field willing and able to testify to your competence. Many people stay to themselves, failing to participate in the community and to build rapport with others in the same field. Rather than stay in your own zone all the time, get out there and meet people. Learn what the current issues and trends are in your field and share your thoughts and opinions with others.

Dishonesty

Lying about your knowledge, skills, or experience will not pay much in the way of rewards over time. People will expect you to back up your brand with the truth, so when you fail to perform, they immediately begin to question your competence. Save a lot of trouble and build your brand and your life with the truth. You probably have heard that “the truth hurts.” Sometimes the truth does hurt, but your personal brand will always do better if you deal with it up front.

Negative Beliefs

People often fail to believe what they expect others to believe about their personal brand. Do not say you are an authority: be an authority. Often people limit themselves because they do not believe they can succeed. No matter what strikes are against you, you can find a positive aspect of your brand. Once you have found it, promote it and believe in yourself that you are the ultimate authority on a particular subject or product.

Unrealistic Expectations

People make the mistake of expecting results too quickly when it comes to their personal brands. You have probably heard that patience is a virtue. We all want instant success, but it rarely comes. Your personal brand can take some good points if you communicate to yourself and to others that you are into the creation of your brand and that you are prepared to spend the time, money, and other resources to make it the best in its field.

Social Media Advertising

Building your personal brand is about interacting with others and establishing your credentials. Logging onto social networks only to propagate self aggrandizing propaganda will turn off potential clients. If you let people get to know your personal brand by knowing you, you will have the ears of a lot more people.

Poor Personal Management

How will you expect people to trust your capability to manage their affairs or to meet their needs when you do not do the same for yourself? By exemplifying self discipline, punctuality, and organization you will establish yourself as one to be both admired and hired.

Negativity

Everything and everyone has both good and bad characteristics. It’s hard to build a desirable personal brand if you never have anything good to say about anyone or anything. Even if you have had a difficult life, employers and clients don’t care: they want someone who will build them up, not tear them down. Get control of your thoughts and your words: you’ll be surprised at how popular you become once you focus on positive things.

To be successful, you must avoid these 11 common mistakes that people make with their personal brands. By building your brand on high quality substance, you will rarely have trouble when you seek to persuade clients to choose you over others.

James Adams is a writer and researcher who works at CartridgeSave, an online specialist supplier of printer cartridges based in the northern English city of Manchester. When he isn’t writing guest posts, James analyses and reviews printer hardware and accessories. He also posts on their blog where he focusses on covering new hardware releases in the print industry. In his spare time he spends too much time on XBOX Live and enjoys nothing more than food from his native South Africa.

Photos by Shutterstock.

23 Comments

  • October 7, 2010

    Laura

    I have noticed that a LOT of people have unrealistic expectations for their business.

    “I want to have 100,000 Facebook Fans in 2 weeks, and I am a start-up business that no one knows…..”

    It is hard to explain to people how it all works when they have this type of expectation. Marketing, social media and communication takes time, they are not going to be popular overnight!

    Any advice?

    • October 7, 2010

      Tamar Weinberg

      Laura, let them read this post. ;)

    • October 8, 2010

      James Adams

      You’re right, it does take a bit of time to get some momentum. The best you can do is explain it as clearly as possible. It might also be a good idea to have clear examples from previous examples of your work that you can show them, with solid stats, visual tools and information, so you have something concrete to back up the points you’re trying to make. Your customer may find it easier to understand if they see what the general trend of social media is.

  • October 7, 2010

    Cijo Abraham Mani

    I like your point about Social Media Advertising. Social Media is all about how effectively you build conversation and become part of an ongoing conversation. To get social media success you should first gain the trust of your followers. Trust builds with strong relationship. So everything you do on social media must be to build stronger relationship.

  • October 7, 2010

    Beth Rubin-Gabor

    Great post…you hit on all the key points to success in personal/professional branding. I especially liked your point about changing opinions too frequently. However, it is always important to be open minded and flexible especially since our culture moves quickly.

    Building relationships takes time, energy and effort. Most business owners want quick success. That is not realistic.

  • October 7, 2010

    Eddie Gear

    I can come across so many companies that do not even brand them selves in the fear of being considered as SPAM. Its truely understandable, however if you do not over do your part you are safe. Nice article worth the read.

  • October 8, 2010

    Rebecca Caroe

    Tamar, I find the ‘expert’ stuff absolutely crucial – in fact if you are a real expert then you *may* be forgiven poor grammar and communication skills. However, there’s a particularly American trait which Europeans/Britons spot quickly which is over-confidence and sounding expert but, after questioning, we find the knowledge is wafer thin.

    This drives us crazy – Brits tend to be under-expansive about their expertise. If you ask me ‘do you do B2B marketing?’ I may answer “yes, a bit”. Which actually means “Yes I have 25 years experience and a few awards and a huge online following”. An American would say that as an answer.

    • October 9, 2010

      Dorothea Heymann-Reder

      Rebecca, I think you have a very good point. As a localization expert involved in Social Media Marketing I often observe real culture clashes. I’m German and in Germany it’s push marketing, negativity and a certain lack of openness that get in the way of successful social media engagement.
      The fascinating thing about this post is that every country and culture in the world has different defects and they’re all listed and dealt with right here. Thanks, James!

  • October 8, 2010

    Arthur Charles Van Wyk

    Does the consistency part mean that if I have a Facebook profile where I am just me.. the person.. saying and sharing myself as a person..
    I will need a different Facebook profile for me the entrepreneur, evangelist, brand manager etc.. where I speak and share all things branding??

    • October 8, 2010

      James Adams

      Hey Arthur! Well, it all depends on the message that you’re sending out, really. If your personal lifestyle differs vastly from your business persona then it may be a good idea, because you don’t want to send out conflicting messages. That makes you look like a sellout, and people won’t put as much stock in your opinion.

      It’s important to be consistent with the messages you send out. People want to know that when you say something, they’ll be able to depend on that information right away, and for a long time.

  • October 8, 2010

    Onibalusi Bamidele

    Awesome post James,

    Really great points!

    I love your point about Negativity and dishonesty, it is always good to encourage and build people up rather than discourage them.

    Thanks a lot for the great post,
    -Onibalusi

    • October 15, 2010

      James Adams

      Thanks very much Onibalusi! I believe you always get further with positivity :)

  • October 8, 2010

    Michael

    Hi James

    All relevant points. Thanks for making note of the importance of writing well. Some bloggers seem to think they don’t need to focus on this but what they don’t realize is that their credibility diminishes through poor communication. The hardest part is when you reach out to some of them and offer help they get defensive.

    Thanks for the excellent tips.

    Michael

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  • October 10, 2010

    Alex

    James,

    Really fantastic post mate – touching on some definite issues that i see are rife in the blogosphere, and everywhere online for that matter.
    I came over from Michael’s (above) post where he awesomely showed me the best of the best this week – thanks Michael!
    As for my take on this post – I think that social media is the new word of mouth, and like the word of mouth of old – it takes time for people to start remembering and trusting your brand – but it is THE most effective way to spread influence, and social media is no different.

    Thanks for the thoughts and the well constructed post James

    • October 15, 2010

      James Adams

      Hey Alex, that’s a great way to define social media – the new word of mouth. And of course, getting people to talk about you is an incredible way to get noticed.

  • October 11, 2010

    Nan Ross

    Thanks for the post! Poor Personal Management and Consistency are the ones that hit home. By practicing brand consistency and personal management in your social media activities, people will start to trust and depend on you.

  • October 12, 2010

    Debasis Pradhan

    All of them are potentially dangerous things to do to hurt your personal branding. But poor communication and dishonesty should rank at the top, IMO!

    Edited: Thanks TechChunks. I changed your name and edited it as per my blog policy. Hope that’s okay.

  • October 12, 2010

    Kwame

    Thanks for the lessons, James. Picked some lessons from your post. My biggest challenge is finding time to complete tasks. I suck at managing my time but I am still improving.

    Tamar, your choice of photos are truly intriguing.

    Kwame.

  • November 3, 2010

    Marc van der Veen

    Good read, good points!

    One big BUT is that you actually make a mistake yourself. ‘to’ instead of ‘too’. “..results to quickly” But hey, that’s just one point so no discredit there ;)

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