The Giraffe Brand



By Liezel van der Westhuizen

What is your greatest fear in the personal branding space? Are you hesitant to put yourself and your business out there because of what people may think? I always remind my personal branding clients that promoting yourself is not something to be wary of because word of mouth (in the networking space) and a strong presence (in cyber space) put your business squarely in front of those who are looking for your services.

are you derailing your personal brand

On the other hand, you could be doing a few other things that serve to weaken your clout in the marketplace – without you even knowing it. Here are five such habits that are not doing your personal brand any favours, plus suggestions of how to turn the situation around without delay.

You’re trying to be all things to all people

This is negative in that it probably means you haven’t taken the time to identify your own main goals, and are just as unlikely to have decided what steps you plan on taking to reach them. You may get loads of social media likes when you review a guesthouse for the sake of it, for example, but how much more influential could your posts be if you were trying out the guesthouse in preparation for an annual fitness event you’d trained hard for, and it was the best place to be based. Such an approach could double your likes (and even target group) by giving potential holidaymakers and athletes/supporters a useful review for future reference.

You blow your own trumpet ad nauseum

My girlfriends and I like to share our successes – both big and small – on a private WhatsApp group. Out in public, we prefer to be a bit more selective about sharing what we’ve done well in. For example, I recently passed my radio exam on the journey towards becoming a qualified skipper and shared this on Twitter; there are very few female skippers in South Africa and those of us who have been brave enough to go this route, deserve a few rousing cheers (in my honest opinion). I don’t necessarily share every small (read: insignificant) win this publicly because that could appear rather tedious to my target audience.

You rarely make a public appearance

This is a big no-no because it means you aren’t building new relationships or working on important existing ones. If all your work takes place behind your pc or laptop, you probably aren’t supporting worthy causes (remember, doing good is great for business) and you certainly aren’t attending events or taking on speaking roles that would allow you to showcase what is unique about your business or brand. People have short memories, so it is hugely important to get out there as regularly as you can. I can’t emphasise strongly enough how important real-life relationships can be – networking at industry events and also spending valuable social or sporting time in the public eye.

You can’t resist a controversial debate

Every time a politician or celebrity makes news under less-than-desirable circumstances, you jump right on the bandwagon by adding to the badmouthing of their mistakes or the slamming of their opinions. My advice is that you carefully select your causes (save your bullets, as it were) – such as for the recent shock over “gender violence” in South Africa. I stood up and had my say on this over Twitter, because I feel strongly that something has to be done. This is not the case, for me, over every other popular cause out there.

You’re too perfect

Know those impeccably curated Instagram feeds? Well, life is simply not like that. Real entrepreneurs and executives come up against numerous problems on a daily basis, which they ideally need to solve – without delay – in order to thrive. At some point, fans and followers will find all this perfection distasteful and may even unfollow your feed if there is no attempt to make it more true to life. Want to be a real influencer? Then set about sharing a few of the real problems you have faced lately in the business space, and the way in which you’ve conquered them. Taking this approach will make you a true winner in your niche and will help you swell your social media following in the most authentic way.

In conclusion, think dynamic relationships, impressed customers, inspired contractors, useful tips and the personal touch – and you’re sure to shed the negative traits that have been dismantling your personal brand, and instead take on more postive personal-brand boosting traits in the future. Do you hesitate to get in touch if this topic resonates with you and is something you are keen to explore in more detail.


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