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How Not to Build Your Personal Brand: Top 9 Personal-Branding Mistakes

by William Arruda  |  
March 9, 2010

I started my personal-branding business, Reach, almost a decade ago様ong before Facebook, blogs, and Twitter existed.  In that Web 1.0 world, personal branding focused on real-world activities, such as public speaking and publishing books.

A lot has changed in the world of personal branding since then, but the core principles remain the same.

Thanks to the ubiquity of Web 2.0 tools, it's now easy to increase your visibility傭ut to what end?

As with all corporate-branding plans, your personal-branding activities need to be part of a well-conceived strategy, but one that will help you not only achieve your goals but also increase your professional fulfillment.

As I watch people build their personal brands on the World Wide Web, I see a lot of personal-branding disasters容fforts that diminish brand value rather than increase it.

Here are the nine personal-branding mistakes I saw continually repeated in 2009. Avoid them so you can build a powerful and compelling brand that increases your brand equity.

1. Being Fake vs. Being Real

Personal branding is not about fabricating a persona; it's about authenticity. You can't start building your brand until you understand who you are, what you want, and what makes you exceptional.

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William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda

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  • by Bob Ragsdale Tue Mar 9, 2010 via web

    And I love this: "Branding is not about fame; it's about selective fame."

  • by Heather Mayo Tue Mar 9, 2010 via web

    I found this article quite helpful especially the reminder about talking not giving. It's important to realize that social marketing is a different animal than traditional forms of marketing and by its nature allows for a more two-sided relationship with customers.

  • by Melissa Thu Mar 11, 2010 via web

    Arent #1 and #7 a little contradictory? Spend a lot of money on fancy lighting and video equipment to make it appear you video blog from a studio when it's really a corner in your studio apartment? Not the picture of authenticity.

    Ok, poorly written copy, yes, maybe you should get some help there, but a grammatical or spelling error here and there shows you're real.

    When it comes down to it, it's about the quality of what you're saying or doing. Not that you've got a cheesy professional photo as your default picture or that you've got a video production house on retainer to make your videos look awesome for you. Sounds like this will be, as Anne Morrow Lindbergh once said, "exhausting."

    Using slightly unprofessional or slightly imperfect tactics allows people to relate to you.

    There's a section on this in Gary Vaynerchuk's "Crush It!"

  • by Stephen McArthur Mon Mar 15, 2010 via web

    This caught my eye too: "Branding is not about fame; it's about selective fame." I also like your mention of Lindbergh's "...exhausting..."

    An image and brand you believe in, is authentic - it comes from within, so to speak. I take this to mean it sends a message about a set of values, standards and principles that you live and believe in, and these values would be representative of "your best self".

    Then, you create the best videos, photos, articles, etc., to present "your best self" to your selected group. For example, the quality video created would be a representation of "your best self" to a particular population.

    Best Regards,


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