Too many entrepreneurs focus so much on building their business that they forget about their personal brand.
It doesn’t matter how good your products/services are if no one knows your name, especially in the startup space. You have to understand how to put your best foot forward if you want to open doors for your company.
This begins with your reputation, the basic definition of your personal brand. If you’re having trouble building your personal brand in a way that makes you stand out and be approachable, take a step back for a second and think about what you might be doing wrong.
Here are the top ten mistakes people make when trying to establish a personal brand.
1. You Pretend to Be Someone You’re Not
A lot of people who just got the funding they were looking for or made their first big sale start thinking they’re all that. Newsflash – you’re not, and walking around like you’re some sort of big shot is only going to damage your personal brand, not improve it.
You have to stay true to who you are through all the ups and downs your company experiences.
More so, you have to be able to let go and just be yourself when you’re out at networking events or private meetings. Not everything that comes out of your mouth has to be about business. But, everything you do does reflect the quality of your business.
2. You Lack Passion and Ambition
Maybe you have no problem being yourself but you’re not sure how to make your passion for the business come to life. This is a problem a lot of introverted innovators and some “ideas people” deal with. When everything is in your head, it can be hard to communicate the passion behind the products.
You have to make an effort, though.
Always focus on the value your business is providing, not just the products. Go beyond what people see and talk about why you wanted to do what you’re doing in the first place.
This is huge for your personal brand and your business’s brand.
3. You Don’t Have a Pitch Prepared
Your personal brand has to make a good impression within the first 5-10 seconds of meeting someone. You need to be able to open your mouth and introduce yourself in a clear, concise manner.
However, shaking hands and stating your name just won’t do. That’s forgettable and unoriginal. Create a short personal pitch that lasts 30 seconds – 1 minute. Use it to say who you are and what you do, and maybe throw in a fun fact about yourself.
Start leading with that at events and meetings and watch how people’s reactions start to change. You’ll instantly be giving them conversation points and building their interest from the first things you say, which is great if you want to start talking business.
4. You Look Sloppy
It’s not enough to say the right things at events if you can’t look the part. Be careful of trying too hard and being someone you’re not, but, definitely make the effort to present yourself well.
Men, this means opting for the full suit or at least a nice button down. Throw your personality into an outfit by choosing colors that best complement your features or show off your company’s brand.
Ladies, put an effort into your hair and makeup and invest in some nice slacks and heels. Don’t go over the top, though. You want to make sure everyone in the room takes you seriously and sometimes that means letting your brain shine more than your looks.
5. You’re Using a Bad Headshot
Keep in mind there’s a chance you make a bad impression before you even walk into a room or open your mouth. What is the headshot people see when they look at your professional pages and personal profiles?
You can’t use a headshot from your old workplace if you’re now trying to make it on your own. More importantly, the headshot shouldn’t be blurry, have bad lighting, or something you cropped to just focus on you.
Hire a professional to get it right. While you’re at it, get a handful of pictures edited so you have more than one to choose from.
6. You Ramble
Here’s another thing to think about: if you’re rambling during your introduction, in conversation, or over-posting online, you have a problem. People stop listening after a while, which means they’re not invested in your brand as much.
You have to know how to keep people engaged. Stay on topic, share your thoughts, and move on. Also, make an effort to include others in the conversation whether online or in person.
7. You’re Slacking on Content
What if you’re not building your personal brand on social media at all? There are those who post at all hours of the day and those who barely jump online and engage with their community.
You need to be somewhere in the middle. Stepping back from the digital space is good for your productivity and idea generation, but you can’t go so far that people start forgetting who you are.
Most of the people you meet at events and meetings are going to look you up. Give them the content they’re looking for. Publish blog posts on your business website once a week and start expanding your professional social media presence. This can do wonders for your image and your company’s success.
8. You Rely on Inspirational Quotes
As good as it is to publish content online, you don’t want to be known as the “inspirational quotes” person.
Everyone knows it’s good for entrepreneurs to invest in their personal and professional development. Some people miss the mark by trying to claim they have wisdom through constantly sharing inspirational quotes – usually ones people already know.
It’s good to post a quote every once in a while when you have a relevant experience to share with it. Relying on quotes for content, though, says you have no original thoughts to offer; it diminishes your personal brand.
9. You Don’t Have a Call to Action
Another mistake many people make is posting just to post. Think about what you’re really trying to say and how you want your audience to engage. Then, make them engage with a call to action!
It doesn’t make sense to push so much content and not get any engagement out of it. You have to start the conversation on the right foot and tell your audience what you’d like them to do in order to keep the conversation going.
10. You’re Not Being Genuine
Last but not least, make sure you’re being genuine.
People can see right through you when you’re not and they won’t have respect for you or your business no matter what you’re offering. It’s not hard to be yourself and straightforward with others. The more you do this, the easier it is to trust you and connect with your passions.
Building Your Personal Brand with Social Media
It’s one thing to realize where you may have fallen short while building your personal brand and another to know how to set yourself up for success. For starters, avoid the mistakes mentioned above.
Then, go beyond that. Build a professional social media profile just for you, not your business. Start creating an online community of other entrepreneurs and thought leaders who know you and respect you, and watch how your reputation transforms.
Here are a few social media insights to point you in the right direction.