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10 Ways Entrepreneurs Undermine Their Personal Brands

10 Ways Entrepreneurs Undermine Their Personal Brands
Image credit: John Lopez | Flickr
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Your personal brand will help you improve your reputation, build relationships, share your values and grow your business. However, personal branding can also work against you if you aren’t careful. As Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Over the past year, doing the hard work of building my person brand has taught me to contend with many problems and many haters. I've learned a few very hard lessons along the way. Here are 10 ways that you can hurt and potentially destroy your personal brand .

1. You’re not authentic.

Authenticity, as defined by James T. Noble on KISSMetrics, “means staying true to who you are, what you do and who you serve.” Authenticity is important for branding because it makes you relatable and trustworthy, separates you from competitors, defines your identity and informs people about the services you offer.

If you want to work on your authenticity, starting with:

  • Be yourself by sharing your passions, values and purpose of your branding.
  • Be charitable.
  • Be consistent with your messages and content.
  • Be accountable when you makes mistakes.
  • Back up what you say.

2. Sharing the wrong content.

Content is an excellent way to build your brand by increasing your authority and engagement. But, there’s a balancing act that needs to be considered when developing a content strategy. For example, you simply can’t over-promote your accomplishments and skills, but you also don’t want to under-promote your brand. At the same time, you also want to share the content created by others.

I know. That sounds confusing. That’s why you should follow the 80/20 Rule when sharing and curating content. This simple rule states that the content that you share should only include 20 percent about your brand and 80 percent of interesting content.

Related: 10 Toxic Behaviors to Leave Behind in 2015

3. Not being responsive.

Whether it’s responding to an email, direct message on Twitter or a review on Yelp, it’s imperative that you respond to each and every individual who has reached out to you. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it will develop long-lasting relationships with influencers and clients.

4. Attempting to be everything.

If you’ve worked on your authenticity, then this shouldn't be that much of stretch to accomplish. If you’re still working on defining your voice, then keep this piece of advice in mind -- don’t try to be everything at once. If you’re witty, like a brand like Old Spice or Dollar Shave Club, then your messages and content should reflect that. If you’re witty one day and serious the next, you’ll make your brand confusing to others.

5. Posting before you consider consequences.

The Starbucks barista got your order wrong and you’re ticked. You had one too many drinks and started sharing photos on social media. A client just informed you that your services are no longer needed and you want the world to know that they’re a terrible person. It’s easy to get carried away with emotion but, as a professional, you have to take a deep breath, step away and think before you act. Sharing unprofessional social media updates and images is a fast way to tarnish your brand.

Case in point, Rakesh Agrawal. He was a PayPal executive who insulted some of his colleagues on Twitter. Naturally, he was removed after the incident.

Related: 14 Power Facebook Tips to Build Your Brand and Business

6. Sharing too much personal information.

Do you need to check-in at every location? Do your contacts need to every word uttered by your child? No. While it’s one thing to share important, your child’s first step or checking into Wrigley Field while on vacation, sharing too much information can be harmful to your brand for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s not always professional seeing your gallivant around town when you should be working. And, to be brutally honest, the world doesn’t care about every single moment of your life. Bombarding their accounts with too much information is a guaranteed way to turn people off.

7. Using stock photography.

The importance of being authentic extends to the images you use on your business cards, website and other marketing materials. Instead of using stock photography, create your own visual content. This will humanize your brand and help you connect with your audience, as opposed to use generic and cheap-looking images that do not represent you and your brand. I like the new Adobe Post app or Canva to do this.

Related: 7 Ways to Build a Million-Dollar Brand

8. Your website is poorly designed (or you don’t have one).

While social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be used to build your brand, they don’t clearly communicate your message and showcase your work as well as a website does. Websites are easily affordable to purchase and host. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but it should be clean, responsive and contain information like your bio and samples of your work.

9. Your profiles are stagnant.

You don’t have to update your blog daily or send out multiple tweets throughout the day, but you also can’t leave your blog or social media unattended for a long time. If you don’t make your presence known, someone else will step-in and take away any momentum that you’ve had going for you. At the minimum, you should be doing a weekly check-in so that you aren’t forgotten.

10. Not measuring your efforts.

Finally, you want to make sure that your branding efforts are gaining results. What’s the point of writing blog posts and updating your social media channels if your audience isn’t reading or sharing this content? Pay attention to the metrics that will validate your goals that you’ve set. Google Analytics is good for identifying information like how many visitors have come to your site, and even the demographics of your audience, so that you can create content that they’ll share.

Related: 5 Ways to Reach Millions of People