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You know who has a great personal brand?


We might not all love the vampire from Bram Stoker’s novel – he can be a real pain in the neck – but we know where he stands. That’s because his messaging and mannerisms are consistent in every film, book, and commercial he is in.

Before you go asking your dentist for fang implants, I’m not recommending we all emulate Dracula. Just his approach.

If career advancement is your goal, it’s important to present yourself in a way that positions you for growth, new connections, and success.

To that end, there are some common personal branding mistakes that can absolutely haunt your career prospects. Here are a few, along with some ideas of overcoming them.

Mistake 1: Going Full Ghost

One of the most common personal branding mistakes is being virtually invisible. In today’s digital age, not having an online presence is akin to being a ghost in the professional realm.

Yet, LinkedIn says more than 50 percent of its user profiles are considered “incomplete.”

Be on the right side of this statistic by establishing a strong LinkedIn profile and regularly engaging with industry-related content. Demonstrate your knowledge through meaningful comments and posts. Doing so will lead to more exposure to recruiters, headhunters, and hiring managers in your industry.

Mistake 2: Creating a Zombie Network

Two people this week told me the same thing: I’m tired of working alone. When choosing our careers, we likely think of financial stability and flexibility. One thing that gets overlooked is connection with others.

Being isolated leads to a lifeless networking situation that can choke career growth. Build relationships by reaching out to others with personalized messages, attending networking events, and offering genuine help or insights.

Remember, it’s not about how many contacts you have, but how effectively you nurture and utilize them. Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to professional connections.

Mistake 3: Building an Echo Chamber

Speaking of networks, avoid surrounding yourself with “yes” men. Echo chambers are the equivalent of a never-ending horror movie – they limit your perspective and hinder growth.

Surrounding yourself exclusively with like-minded individuals can stifle creativity and hinder progress.

Seek out diverse viewpoints, engage in conversations that challenge your assumptions, and broaden your horizons by attending conferences or workshops outside your comfort zone.

Mistake 4: Wearing a Mask

Have you ever met an influential person and been completely disappointed in their “real” personality?

Perhaps the most spine-chilling mistake of all is presenting a persona that’s completely at odds with your true self. Authenticity is the cornerstone of a strong personal brand.

Embrace your quirks, share your genuine experiences, and let your personality shine through. People can sense when someone is being authentic, and it builds trust and connection.

Remember, it’s not about putting on a cape and changing who you are, but about embracing and showcasing your unique strengths and talents to the world.

Joe Szynkowski is the happy founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a small local firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email for more information. This column originally appeared in The Southern Illinoisan newspaper.