16 Ways to Damage Your Personal Brand

I’ve already mentioned all the nice things you could do to brand yourself and build a memorable online presence. However, if you’re not a born doer you might find all these suggestions a bit difficult to implement and to follow, right? That’s why, in this blog post I would like to make your life easier and just let you know about the things you shouldn’t do instead. So, let’s get started.

#1 Don’t use a fake name on social media

You don’t need to be Albert Einstein to realise that if you don’t use your real name on social media no one will ever be able to find you. Although it sounds obvious, it’s a common mistake that many people make. Initially they don’t fancy online exposure and they prefer to be anonymous so that they are able to post whatever they want and act however they like. But guess what? When they finally decide that they want to have a professional online presence they will need to get rid of this taboo and just be and act “normal”. Some will ask:

Why can’t I build my personal brand around my nickname?

Sure thing, you can build a personal brand around your nickname but you need to be clear about this from the start and you need to understand that you will create a brand that will not be linked to your original name.

15 Ways to Damage Your Online Personal Brand

Pic taken from

#2 Don’t use a variety of alias

This is another big mistake people do when it comes to building their online presence. Loads, when they sign up to online platforms, use a variety of alias and in this way they cannot be affiliated with one single name. What’s the problem you ask? I will give you a simple example:

2 months ago I was asked to help a researcher build his personal brand. When I did an initial research to find the organic results regarding his name through a simple Google search, I could find only half of his scientific publications. Why is that? Because his name had 2 variations and when submitting his papers to the journals he used to switch from one name to the other. As a result, some publications were under his name and the rest under his short name and therefore someone like me who would like to find information about his publications wasn’t able to find the full list.

#3 Don’t use inappropriate images on your social media profiles

This is another point that makes total sense to everyone and doesn’t need an explanation… However, if you don’t get the point, just imagine that you’re a professional psychotherapist and your profile picture on your social media is you in the jungle dressed as Tarzan. Would I trust you to be my therapist? I don’t think so… So, if you’re wondering how to brand yourself using an inappropriate profile pic on your Facebook or Twitter profile, this is not the way.


Bad Facebook profile pic example

I recently helped an architect who wanted to create a strong personal brand. He had graduated around a year ago and was searching for a job. When I first did my initial research to find out about his online presence I couldn’t find any info about him on Facebook or Twitter. He then told me that he used a fake name (his surname backwards) and as a profile picture on his Facebook page he placed Joker’s picture… I instantly told him that he needs to switch to his real name (it’s extremely easy to change your name on Facebook, just read this guide) and upload a proper-professional picture that will bring out the best of him. We also updated some info and cleaned up his “backyard” from all the inappropriate posts and images that he had posted so far.

The key point here is that moment he finally uploaded his professional picture and he wrote about his new venture as an architect, he got close to 200 likes (out of 600 friends) which gave a good boost and exposure of his brand new self. Keep in mind that your Facebook friends want to see your face and not a random picture. And also remember that they are going to congratulate you and support you when you finally decide to show your real face and act as a mature professional.

#4 Don’t use inappropriate language and images on posts, emails and communication

Inappropriate-offensive language is a no-no when it comes to any profession. Racist, sexual and shocking comments can really harm your personal brand. Be extremely careful with the language of your content that can be associated with:

  • Racism
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Exploitation
  • Violence
  • Hatred and Intolerance

First of all, the above type of comments look and sound bad. Secondly, all of the above can be associated with an amateur, unprofessional, rude and disrespectful persona.

You have probably heard a dozen of times about people who wrote something inappropriate on their social media which caused a backlash right? If you can’t recall any, just see the following examples:

1. Lindsey Stone who posted a photo at Arlington National Cemetery and ended up getting fired.

2. Justine Sacco who got fired after sending a racist’ tweet before her trip to Africa.

15 Ways to Damage Your Online Personal Brand

Lindsey Stone’s photo pic on her Facebook profile – Pic taken from

If you want more examples, here are 10 other people who lost their jobs over social media mistakes and here are 10 more.

#5 Don’t start conversations without a purpose on professional groups on LinkedIn

Don’t talk just for the sake of it. Talking rubbish or repeating what others have already mentioned and giving useless information make you look/sound like a fool. There’s actually an old saying:

“Better to be quiet and thought a fool than to talk and be known as one” – Unknown 

So, when you don’t have anything useful or clever to say, it’s better to do more listening than talking. Below I mention some things you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t use LinkedIn Groups to promote your products / services
  • Don’t just post your blog posts into LinkedIn Groups. Instead, try to provide useful information and share interesting, meaningful, and reputable content that can help the other members. Inside the message you can include your blog post, but only if they truly serve that purpose.

Find out more about how to network using LinkedIn groups through this guide.

#6 Don’t have inactive social media profiles on démodé social media platforms

If there is no particular reason to have a profile in a platform that you don’t use, then why to have one? There are people who start heavily using one social media platform for some days, weeks or months. Then they get bored and they switch to another one. Thus they end up having a dozen of profiles all over the internet.

You need to be selective with the social media platforms that you use.

  • Pick 2 to 5 social media platforms that you want to use and commit to using them regularly.
  • Take some time to delete all your inactive profiles in social media platforms that have no use for you anymore. There are more chances that the outdated content that someone can find there, might be harmful and not beneficial for your personal brand.


#7 Don’t underestimate LinkedIn

If you’re reading this post and you’re interested in personal branding, you are probably aware of LinkedIn as being one of the most important tools for building a great personal brand. That’s why you should take advantage of LinkedIn and be active on it. Personal branding is all about marketing yourself and your career and LinkedIn is the tool that will help you establish your brand and spread the word about it.

“87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find high-quality candidates” – Source: Adweek

Not having a LinkedIn profile might mean for your future employer or customer that:

1. You are not an up-to-date professional

2. You are not a social person

3. Or even worse, that you’re not a professional


#8 Don’t have a useless – empty – inactive LinkedIn profile

Having an empty LinkedIn profile (see example below) or an inactive one, might be as bad as not having any. For your employer or customer, an empty LinkedIn profile might mean that:

1. You don’t have any experience or qualifications to show

2. You are too lazy to fill out your profile properly

3. You are unable or too bored to finish what you already started

15 Ways to Damage Your Online Personal Brand

Example of an Empty LinkedIn profile

Be sure that you use LinkedIn correctly. Include important information such as:

  • Professional Profile Picture
  • Mission Statement
  • Working History
  • Skills
  • Certificates
  • Volunteering Experience


Need help building your personal brand?

Get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

#9 Don’t be a troll and don’t engage in online rants.

Complaining, attacking, criticizing and leaving negative comments all over the internet is something that you should definitely avoid. Who likes negativity? No one… Who likes a complainer? Again, no one… and find out here why. By being negative, you can only harm your online reputation and your individual brand.

Negativity is a downer. No one likes, hires, or promotes a troll or a whiner.

#10 Don’t show off all the time.

Another extremely annoying and unpleasant type of person, is the narcissistic showy dude or dudette who is obsessed with themselves and their lifestyle. Their only concern is to show off day and night. If you’re not a fashion blogger or a Pinterest celebrity (who most certainty become famous due to self-centered, self-projected pictures and posts), you better put down your ego and be modest instead of a braggart. A bit of showing off every now and then is normal, and many times it happens by accident. The best way of showing off to others is not to brag at all! Let the other people realise how good you are instead of saying it out loud. Read this nice article about the different types of showing off.

#11 Don’t talk bad about your colleagues, clients, and friends. Being a hater in general.

Same as in point 9, negativity is the devil’s aspect. No one likes a complainer or a hater. Here are some wise words from my lovely mother:

“A person who is always arguing with others and talks bad about others, at one point he/she will also argue with you and talk bad about you.” – My mother

So, if you talk bad about most people, it means that you will potentially also talk bad about the person next to you (potential employer, client, or colleague).


Haters will always hate!

#12 Don’t follow or like people, brands or posts which might hurt your brand

Be careful who you quote, the pages and posts you like, and who you follow. Always read carefully and think twice before sharing a quote, liking a post or a comment or recommending a page. There are hidden traps that might leave doors open for trolls to shame you and create a backlash. Here is an example:

Imagine, that you see a post on your feed from one of your contacts and you find the title interesting. Thus, you share it without even reading it. However, the post is an actual racist post with an interesting/cozy title, that aims to attract clicks and shares. The people who might read this article via your share, might think that you share the same views as the author and therefore that you’re also racist.

Beware, it doesn’t take much these days to cause a backlash. Everything you do online can be tracked so always be careful!

#13 Don’t drink and twit

Don’t do social sharing when drunk. Basically, keep away from social media when drinking as you might end up doing most of the above don’ts (such as the 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12) and maybe having a visit from the FBI.


Don’t drunk and twit – Pic taken

#14 Don’t promote your company or products continuously

Imagine a door-2-door sales man who is knocking on your door every day, trying to sell you his goodies or services. What kind of feeling do you get for this kind of person? Not the best one I assume… You would probably try to avoid him as much as you can, correct? The same goes for self-promoters. No one likes them, no one wants to talk to them, and no one wants to be around them.

You’ve probably, met a dozen shameless self-promoters who are continuously talking about themselves and their accomplishments (sometimes they also talk about themselves in 3rd person…!) every single chance they get. There is scientific evidence that these people don’t even realise that they are bragging and that they are annoying. However, I am almost certain that 99% of the population out there would agree that these type of people are boring and irritating.

So, keep in mind that promoting and selling are two different things. You can indirectly promote yourself as a field expert by providing useful, well thought and unique advice and information to the public without selling yourself, your skills or your services once. Sure, while promoting you can also sell your services, but don’t sell yourself. Let others decide if you are an innovator, a guru, or an expert in your field, you don’t need to brag about it.

#15 Don’t be fake

Personal Branding is about being yourself and being unique.

“All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.” – John Stuart Mill

Originality rocks and so will you, if you decide to stay true to your personality and beliefs. The strongest and most memorable personal brands are based in originality. So before you start to build your personal brand, you should believe in yourself and your personality and figure out:

  • Who you are
  • Who you want to be
  • What makes you unique
  • What are your skills
  • What are your values
  • What are your passions?

Keep in mind that being someone else is difficult and stressful, while being yourself is easy and original.

#16 Don’t be all-over the place

Don’t be vague in your services. The more targeted and focused in one direction you are, the more expertise you can show. In contrast, the more vague you are, the most difficult and exhausting it will be to transcend, as you will try to be everywhere without adding much value to your brand.

So, first thing you need to do, is to find your niche. Then, you’ll need to find everything about it. In the end, you should feel like you have acquired a “PhD” on this niche. You should eat, sleep, breathe, and dream your niche and always stick to it.

That was it! 16 don’ts that will bring you closer to creating a memorable and concrete personal brand!

Ready to build your personal brand?

Just get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

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