Working on your personal brand should be fun. This should be an ongoing activity, and not a chore to accomplish.
So, as you work each day on making the best impression, networking and building relationships with others, there may be a few things that slip into your conversation that you should really try to avoid.
Three major items to avoid:
1. Don’t name drop – Have you ever spoken with someone who just tosses out names of important figures during the course of a conversation? How does that make you feel when you walk away? You just might walk away thinking about how those names were just thrown out there with no real impact on the conversation. Either you feel inferior, or you lose respect for whomever you were speaking with. You may even experience a “really, they really just dropped 5 names in 3 minutes” sensation. Really? Who does this person think they are?
● Instead – Leaving names out of a conversation isn’t a bad thing if they aren’t necessary or relevant. If someone wants to know they will ask.
2. Don’t be shy – If you have ever gone to a gathering, party or networking event, you will most likely have seen (or not noticed) that person standing off to the side, maybe by themselves, observing all of the other conversations taking place. Don’t be that guy!
● Instead – While people-watching can be entertaining, it does nothing for your network. Take a few deep breaths and find one person you would like to introduce yourself to. The next event you attend, meet two new people and keep growing from there. Public speaking, even one on one with a stranger, is uncomfortable for some, but people who make a first approach are memorable.
3 Don’t Brag – Good things tend to happen to those who do not brag. If you want to share good news with your close friends and family, this is one thing. To share this same news with those you network with has the potential to be misinterpreted to have a negative impression. You may have the most sincere of meanings behind the discussion but the recipient may not share your sentiment.
● Instead – Put the focus on the person you are speaking with at that time. Ask questions about what they do and be absolutely interested during the conversation. Get to know them better. If you in turn are asked questions that lead you to sharing some information, great. Just don’t provide it without prompting if it isn’t relevant or interesting to your conversation partner.
Personal branding is about how you are perceived by others. Just because you think you’re awesome doesn’t mean everyone else will, so choose your topics of conversation wisely. Don’t make things hard on yourself by even giving others the slightest impression that you might be a selfish, arrogant jerk. Take the high road and the positive approach, and your reputation will benefit.
Keith McIlvaine manages the recruiting social media strategy for a Fortune 500 company and is an avid networker. He is a corporate recruiter, social media advisor, coach, speaker, blogger and an all around social networking fanatic. Connect with Keith on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or on his blog at the HR farmer. (The statements posted on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer)