7 Honest Reasons Why Your Personal Brand Strategy Isn't Working

Personal branding. 

We have explored why it serves as a winning edge for professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners. 

Yet there are still some deep rooted misconceptions about personal branding. 

Some people view its as form of narcissistic expression, therefore a waste of time. They end up missing out on attracting opportunities and

relationships that could actually move their careers forward. 

Conversely there are others who obsess over their personal brands. They dedicate hours curating content their Twitter feed and tweaking their LinkedIn profile for the nth time. The opportunity cost lies in look

 

HERE IS ONE WAY TO THINK ABOUT IT: 

Let's imagine that you are a business entity. 

According to the book Traction, you need two ingredients to kickstart a successful business. 

1. Providing a product offering that solves a market need

2. Finding distribution channels towards your target market 

SO HOW DOES IT APPLY TO YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL? 

1. Product Offering: This comprises of your unique skills, relevant qualifications and personality. How are you adding value to the organisation you aim to join? 

2. Distribution Channels: This refers to the entire journey from discovering your existence to selecting you ahead of other job applicants. What channels are you getting discovered and how are you positioned uniquely? 

As you can see, the product offering boils down to the hard work in developing your professional craft while being strategic with your career direction. 

On the other hand, getting discovered and differentiating yourself uniquely is where Personal Branding comes in. 

Does it make sense so far? 

This week, we'll not going to cover short term tactics such as which social media platforms to use. 

Rather, I will share certain mindsets to help guide your thinking around this concept.  

 

1. You Ignore The Zero Moment Of Truth

It is common advice that building a LinkedIn profile or a personal website is essential for personal branding. 

And I would like to take this concept further. 

It is not actually about which specific platform you should build up a brand on. The reason is because platforms are constantly rising and falling. 

2020's Facebook might be Snapchat. Who knows? 

Here's what really matters - When someone searches your name on Google (aka The Zero Moment Of Truth), is there sufficient information to form a positive impression about you? 

While we do recommend a personal website as it serves as a hub for your brand, lacking one isn't the end of the world. 

Let me give you an example - Let's say you lack a personal website. But in the meantime you have been guest posting frequently on authority sites, searchers are likely to stumble upon your articles and be impressed at the depth of domain expertise. 

This beats having a personal website where you post sub-standard content and no one is reading it. 

So yes, do continue to build digital assets. But ask yourself "Do it help me with Google's Zero Moment Of Truth?" 

 

2. Hard Selling Without Giving Value

This goes without saying. 

We all know how annoying it is to knock on doors uninvited and shove paper into the hands of your 'prospects'. 

It is simply a social taboo. 

Yet this social etiquette gets forgotten in the online work. People who are desperate to get heard, so they visit forums and dump their promotional links. 

Or they do a mass follow-unfollow campaign on Twitter. When someone follows them back, there is an automated inbox message asking the new follower to buy their products. 

Yikes...

Gary Vaynerchuck talks about his philosophy of "Jab Jab Jab Right Hook". Simply put, you need to give out free value before asking for the sale. 

Hence rather than PUSHING for the sale, you are GUILTING people into buying your products. 

Here's what you should do instead...

Stop trying to 'look good' and schedule some time to make your connections 'look good'.  

A great example includes 'liking' and 'commenting' on their posts. It is our human nature to enjoy receiving attention and it becomes a sure-fire way to build like-ability. 

3. Giving Value Without Any Selling

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are people who make the mistake of building a personal brand without having anything to sell. 

Have you met someone who asks people out for coffee just to 'touch base'? 

While it is always good to grow your networks, meeting for coffee without an follow up offer can be a waste of time.

What do I mean by follow up offer? 

This does not just apply to selling your products. It could also mean pitching your services as a consultant or an employee. Or strengthening the bond by sharing new knowledge or introducing relevant referrals. 

Why is it important to have 'something to offer'? 

This gives you a sense of purpose and focus when you carry out your personal branding activities. 

If you are merely posting content and forming new connections on social media without an end goal, you risk losing focus and annoying busy people. 

Failing to do so also might hamper your long term commitment. For instance you might start viewing personal branding activities as a chore because it does not contribute to your overall goals. 

You are also likely to be scattered in your approach as you lack clarity about who you're appealing to and where to steer the conversation towards. 

So before you start, it is critical to understand what is your follow-up offer.  

 

4. Confusing Privacy With Authenticity

Do I have to reveal my private life on social media? 

You might be facing ambiguity between what to share and what NOT to share online. 

Yet there is a stark difference between broadcasting what you ate for breakfast Vs sharing why you are participating in a marathon to support a not-for-profit. 

See the difference? 

People don't need to know the nitty and gritty parts of your life, plus all the skeletons in your closet. 

But what they need to know is that you are human - just like them. 

Share with them selected parts of your story including successes (to inspire them) and failures (with an emphasis towards lessons learnt). 

Not comfortable talking about yourself? 

Start commenting on the podcasts you listen to, books you read and podcasts you attend. That way you can express your unique perspective, build on the knowledge put forth by experts. 

 

5. Personal Brand Replaces Hard Work

Sorry to burst your bubble, but personal branding isn't the magic potion to success. 

Remember the two components of a successful business we covered earlier I.e. Product offering and distribution channels? 

Personal branding only accounts for one element of success. 

You have to put in the hard work. 

Gary Vaynerchuck ranted about this topic in his article "Stop Asking Me About Your Personal Brand, and Start Doing Some Work". 

He revealed how during the early days of his career, he wasn't obsessed about building his personal brand. Instead he toiled for many hours to build up his domain expertise and create valuable networks.

More great advice by Gary V: 

"To position yourself as an expert is difficult, but most people aren’t asking the first important question, which is: expert in what? What do you want to provide people with? What are you great at? What do you love? What is your legacy going to be (because legacy is always above currency)?" 

My stance - Why not both? 

Build your personal brand along side your hard work. 

The insights that you gather through projects, turn them into blog posts (or videos) and it automatically becomes the staple of your personal brand. 

 

6. It Is Too Time Consuming

It is true that personal branding activities take time, but it doesn't need to be time consuming. 

Seriously, it boils down to time management. 

If you are commuting to and from work, it is a prime opportunity to jot down some notes about your work. 

What new experiments are you going to test today? 

What new insights did you learn from existing projects? 

Or if you are taking a break during work, go to an industry news site and start sharing articles. 

My tools of choice are Feedly (acts as a RSS feed aggregator) and Buffer (social media scheduling tool). With this, I ensure that my LinkedIn and Twitter channels are constantly filled with awesome content. 

Not only does it form a digital footprint, I am able to retrieve all the useful content I encountered at my own convenience. 

 

7. Broadcasting, Not Conversing

Don't forget the 'social' in social media. 

One bloke once commented "Everyone on Twitter seems to be shouting, no one seems to be listening." 

That is so true. 

Remember the 'Jab Jab Jab Hook' concept covered by Gary Vaynerchuk earlier? 

Cutting through the noise doesn't necessarily mean shouting louder. Rather it could mean listening attentively to what other have to say. 

Rather than simply broadcasting, start tagging people within your community. Try to engage them in a conversation. 

It could even mean privately messaging individuals a content piece relevant to their industry. When done right, it comes across as a thoughtful relationship building gesture. 

Where you post or engage, it is important to bear in mind the end goal. 

The aim is not to engage in a competition for attention and likes. No it isn't. 

Rather it builds done to building relationships that translates into real world benefits. For you and your network.

 

To Wrap It All Up...

As promised I did not go through specific tactics this time round. While covering tactics surely has value, instilling the right mindsets around personal branding is more critical. 

I hope this serves as a robust framework to grow your brand beneficial to your career or business. 

Plus don't forget to shine the light on those surrounding you.  

Good luck! 

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