Personal branding isn't always simple. It entails more, for example, than simply executing a straightforward series of tasks. then immediately reaping the benefits.
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As with any marketing or identity-based strategy, personal branding depends on a complex series of moving parts and the understanding that, eventually, something will probably go wrong.
Yet the effort is worth it, because personal branding is becoming increasingly important. A big reason is that corporate brand relationships are taking more hits and personal trust is contributing to more purchasing and business decisions.
Through an ongoing strategy of reputation-building and management, entrepreneurs and professionals can simultaneously improve their personal image; build trust with prospective clients and employees; and increase organic, inbound leads, thereby increasing revenue.
So, if you’re struggling to see results from your efforts, or if your momentum has come to a halt, one of these five reasons may be the reason why:
1. Your branding is inconsistent.
Inconsistency is is the most common problem plaguing entrepreneurs new to the world of personal branding. As with corporate branding, personal branding needs to be solid and consistent to be effective. Otherwise, it cannot be considered a "brand."
Usually, a discrepancy results from a failure to outline brand standards at the beginning of a campaign. These entrepreneurs, thinking that personal branding is only about social connections, may have jumped in without a fleshed-out strategy. They may have strayed from the rules they originally set out, or established different characteristics on different platforms. Whatever the case, it’s critically important to audit your personal brand consistency and make adjustments as necessary.
2. You’re limiting your social channels.
A ton of channels are available for your personal branding needs, including social media platforms, publishers and random online opportunities. If you’re using only a few of them, you’re seriously throttling your potential results.
Related: The Basics of Branding
Think about this in the broadest sense; each platform has a separate, significant volume of users, so the more platforms you take advantage of, the greater your eventual audience will be. The larger your audience, the faster your reputation will grow, so if you stifle potential impact, you’ll stifle the effectiveness of your brand. You don’t have to get established on every single available platform, but do try to branch out if you’re struggling to get results.
3. You’re networking only online.
There’s a misconception, particularly among members of the younger generation, that personal branding is exclusively about the impact you can make in an online format. Due to the prevalence and ease of use of online publishing and social networking, it’s easy to think that using these channels exclusively is the best way to go.
However, if you network only through online media, you’ll alienate your local circle of impact. Attending in-person networking and speaking events can introduce you to people who don’t network online, and can greatly improve your reputation, which is especially important for startups and local businesses. The best personal branding strategies are ones that incorporate elements of both online and in-person networking strategies.
4. You aren’t creating a dialogue.
Personal branding is about more than just putting your own thoughts and content out there for people to read. Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of writing a lot of content and posting a lot of social media updates, but never look to their followers and fans to create a dialogue.
Dialogue is what drives personal brands. Opening the dialogue with questions, surveys, invites for discussion and other forms of interactive exchanges makes people feel more familiar with you and makes you seem more approachable. It also has the nice side effect of simultaneously exposing your personal brand to several other independent social profiles.
5. You’re doing everything alone.
Building a personal brand is largely an individual effort, since you’ll be cultivating your own identity and generating more attention for yourself, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be focused on you.
To be successful with personal branding, you need to borrow authority from other thought leaders and more established institutions around the web. For example, host interviews with other important names in the industry; you’ll simultaneously generate interest for both your personal brands. Guest-post on external personal blogs, and invite other contributors to yours. Build a network of influencers and put yourself in the middle of them. You’ll be amazed at the results.
Along the way, don’t be discouraged if your personal branding strategy takes a sudden plunge; fluctuations are to be expected, but with the right approach, you should have no problem nursing your campaign back to health. Stay focused on your ultimate goals, keep your identity standards consistent and don’t be afraid to make adjustments. The only way to improve is to change something.