Don’t underestimate the power of personal branding—that is developing a trusting, knowledgeable problem-solving persona that people can relate to.
A strong personal brand can land you a job at a new company. In fact, recruiters will make decisions about whom to interview based on people’s online reputations. In addition, a strong personal brand can drastically improve your interactions with customers.
Those are all great reasons to develop and manage your personal brand, and here’s one more: Your personal brand can make or break your career advancement opportunities within your current organization.
So, if you have any desire to move up within your organization, whether that is moving from one role to another or moving into a management job, you need to make sure that the personal brand you currently put out there shines the best possible light on you and your abilities.
Here are five of the biggest personal branding mistakes that might be holding you back:
- Not knowing what your personal brand is. Right now, you have a personal brand. It may not be the brand you want, but you have one. The goal is to develop a positive one both externally with customers and prospects and internally among your coworkers. Are you the trustworthy advisor? The office clown? The isolated hermit? The loudmouth, busy body? Not knowing how others perceive you is as dangerous as not caring about how they perceive you. Pick a few trusted friends, family members or coworkers and ask them to be honest with you about how you come across to others. Be prepared to hear some criticism, and don’t become defensive the minute you hear something you don’t like.
- Failing to take your personal brand seriously. You can be the top sales person in your company and still be overlooked for promotions if people don’t perceive you as a leader—and we’re not just talking about your boss here. Your coworkers’ perceptions matter too. If they don’t see you as an asset and respect you, it will be apparent in their interactions with you. You’ll meet more resistance, have a harder time collaborating and experience more conflict—all things that could hurt your advancement opportunities.
- Allowing your personal life to affect your personal brand. It is highly likely that your boss and your coworkers have Googled you at some point. What they find there can big-time tarnish your reputation. Social media profiles filled with images of your partying, inappropriate or derogatory comments or even just tons of typos can make the powers that be think twice before promoting you. Research yourself and spend some time cleaning up your online image.
- Thinking you can behave however you want. Bad behaviors are remembered the most. If you are rude to people, talk bad about others, gossip, whine, bully, use inappropriate humor or shut yourself off from the rest of the world, that’s how people will think of you. Forget the good work you do. People will only remember how you act. Decide whom you want to be and then make your actions fit that persona.
- Believing your trophies are enough. Receive all the accolades and win all the awards in the world, but ensure that your brand is not just about winning. Personal branding is about positioning yourself as an expert, a problem solver and as someone others can trust and rely on. Forget all the slick talk, brownnosing and bragging, and instead prove to everyone around you—not just the management team—that you can be counted on. That’s how you will move your way to the top.