Personal Branding Advice You Must Ignore

Having been in the field of personal branding longer than anyone on earth, I have heard virtually all the advice that experts are sharing to help career-minded professionals build their brand. And most of it is reasonable and quite valuable. But too often, I encounter “branding” advice that will actually prevent you from building your brand, and worse, it will waste your very precious time. Here’s some of the most pernicious advice you must ignore:

“Just get out there.”
It sounds like good advice, but branding needs to be focused. If you’re being visible for the sake of it, this might increase the number of people who have heard of you, but to what end? Strong personal brands are known for something. You need to be clear about your brand promise before “just getting out there.” Sometimes my audiences seem resistant to the first step of branding because it doesn’t seem exciting enough, but the first step is the most important. Step One must be to spend time getting clear about who you are and what sets you apart from others. Unless you have that part of your brand in order, you’re not ready to start building brand visibility.

“Quantity matters more than quality.”
Sure, you can tweet with the speed and regularity of Kim Kardashian, or Donald Trump, but it’s not going to help you build a successfully authentic brand. Personal branding is about delivering value – not saying, “Hey look at me, just because I like being looked at,” over and over again. Ask yourself this question before sharing anything with your brand community: Will this be relevant and valuable to the people I am looking to influence? And only if the answer is “yes” should you share it.

“Just share other people’s content.”
Sure, curating content is a great way to be visible to your target audience and make them aware of material they may otherwise not have seen. But just sharing content will have little impact on your brand. People don’t pay close enough attention to who shared the materials, focusing instead on the content itself and the person who originally produced it. You’re just the barely visible messenger. To connect the post more closely to your brand, make what you’re sharing more valuable by adding your point of view or letting the viewer know why it is valuable or where in the piece they will find the greatest value. Then, your brand and the brand of the original content creator share a benefit.

“List as many LinkedIn skills as possible.”
It’s true, your profile gets more views when you have more skills listed in your profile; but to what end? If you’re seeking a role in digital marketing but you have the skill of real estate sales in your profile, that may get people to your profile who are looking for a real estate broker, but what value do you get from it?

The only value is the ego boost when you look at the number of people who have viewed your profile. But you lose bigtime because of it. You dilute your brand. Personal branding is not about being famous, it’s about being selectively famous – visible and available to the people who are making decisions about you. When people who matter to you do check out your profile, you want them to see you as relevant and focused. Be potent, not diffuse.

“Get the most people on your list you can.”
It’s not about collecting hordes of people for your email list. It’s about getting people who are on your list to engage. A list with 500 people who open everything you send them and who respond with likes, comments, and sharing is way more valuable to your brand than a list with 50,000 people who never generate more than a .1% open rate. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe – letting them know that you only want them on your list if they’re truly delighted to be there.

“Having a large number of Twitter followers means you have a strong personal brand.”
Sure, having a gazillion Twitter followers can be valuable. It does give you some social proof. But what’s more valuable is using the right hashtags in your posts so you can get the right people to visit your profile. Focus less on the number of followers and more on attracting the right people to your content by using all the relevant hashtags.

“Digital and real-world branding activities are separate.”
Because the digital branding revolution followed the introduction of personal branding, some professionals think they are distinct. I’ve been at the forefront of both eras, and there’s no question that the most effective brands move seamlessly from the real world to the virtual world and back – making sure that if someone were to meet you online, it would be much the same experience as meeting you in the real world. Also, if you are engaged in real-world activities like attending professional association events, think about how you can take what happens at those events and translate it into greater visibility in your online community. Do the reverse as well. Consider the content you’re sharing online and ask yourself how you can make it available to your real-world connections.

By ditching these myths, you’ll begin to reap the real rewards of building your brand, delivering value to the influencers who matter most.

© 2019 William Arruda All rights reserved.


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