Are You Making the 3 Biggest Personal Branding Mistakes?

I teach personal branding workshops nearly every week, and I always open by asking students, "What do you think personal branding means?" Below are some of the most common answers I receive, which also happen to be the three biggest mistakes you can make when you're building your personal brand. [bctt tweet="'Are You Making The 3 Biggest #PersonalBranding Mistakes?', by @RajNATION"]

Mistake 1: Business Cards

I want to run my head into a sword every time someone tells me they're building their personal brand, and when I ask them what that means, they say they're creating new business cards.

Unless your business card is a 2Pac hologram, it isn't speaking for you, interviewing for you, networking for you, or writing your blog for you. In fact, it’s 2016—you don’t even need to give someone your card, you can just open the LinkedIn app on your phone and add their profile.

[bctt tweet="A business card won't network for you. #PersonalBranding is about building relationships—@RajNATION"]

Mistake 2: A Creative Résumé

I had a conversation with someone once who said she wanted to learn Adobe Creative Suite, so that she could create an infographic résumé and interview for better jobs in her field.

Those were two barriers she'd put up for herself (learn Adobe and create an infographic résumé) just to get to her desired end result (an interview for a better job). Let’s not forget that Adobe Creative Suite costs almost $2,400 and takes months to learn if you’re a quick learner. That job she wanted would probably be filled by then.

Creative résumés are a waste of time and money. Most résumés get put through a filter anyway, so you actually give yourself NO chance in that case because the filter can’t read the text in the file.

What you should be shooting for instead is putting yourself in a position where your résumé is a mere formality, because you've already proven your value to the right people.

[bctt tweet="Prove your value to the right people instead of wasting time creating a fancy résumé—@RajNATION"]

Mistake 3: Social Media

I had someone reach out to me once asking to chat because they were "currently developing [their] personal brand." I replied saying, "What are you currently doing to develop your personal brand and where would you like to be?"

This was the response:


This is perhaps the biggest no-no. It makes me ask:

A) Why are you asking me to piecemeal your brand together by looking at different platforms? Why can't you just tell me what your brand is? Is it because you don't actually know?


B) Social media is there to keep you piped into the conversation. It serves as an extension of your brand, but it is NOT your actual brand. I've had Twitter for five years and have less than 850 followers. That's not a whole lot, and by not wasting my time chasing number of followers, instead focusing on building real relationships, storytelling, and proving I can do what I say I can do, I've actually crossed off major career goals like giving a TED Talk and having my work published on websites that get half a million visitors. Your brand is what you believe in, how you communicate that to others, and how they react to you. Not your Instagram profile.

[bctt tweet="A #PersonalBrand is what you believe in, how you communicate and how you come across —@RajNATION"]

What do all of these mistakes have in common?

They are TOOLS. Don't be a tool.

Tools mean nothing if you don’t know how to use them. I’m the worst handyman you’ll ever meet. If you give me a toolbox, my house won’t magically get repaired unless I pick up those tools. And since I’m terrible at DIY stuff, I’ll probably damage the house even more if I do pick up those tools.

What about your career and your personal brand? Instead of focusing on the tools, and either using the wrong ones, or using the right ones incorrectly, what if we instead focused on the handyman (you)?

[bctt tweet="#PersonalBranding is really about creating value for other people —@RajNATION"]

What separates the rockstars from everyone else—and pay close attention here because this is what 99% of people get wrong—is that the rockstars know that personal branding is really about creating value for other people. Debating 10 or 12 point font on a business card doesn’t create value for anyone.

If you're not focused on building something of value, you're focused on the wrong things.

Photo credit: American Psycho, Lions Gate Films