Are Any of These Behaviors Damaging Your Professional Brand?

by Melanie Edwards on October 8, 2010 · 4 comments

in Blogging, guest-posts

Employee Appraisal Survey

Guest post by Kim Dority – part 2 of a 2-part series on Professional Brands [Editor’s Note: The original article focused on your brand for traditional employment/career success. I have added notes for applying this information to your online/blogging career, designated with the “Editor” preface.]
Read part 1 – Build Your Professional Brand for Career Success

Having a strong, positive professional brand will open up opportunities for you throughout your career. Having a bad professional reputation, however, can sabotage your career in countless ways. Are you guilty of any of these brand-damaging behaviors?

Burning bridges with previous employers.

Had it with your job? Resist the urge to simply tell everyone what you think of them and then stomp out the door. No matter where you live or what profession you’re in, assume it really is a small world, and your unprofessional behavior may come back to haunt you in the future.

Editor: Don’t blast out a blog post or tweet letting everyone know just what you think about a particular brand or company. Instead, think about turning the experience into a productive blog post for your readers to learn along with you…without naming names.

Over-sharing photos online.

Yep, it may be fun to post Friday night’s bar-hopping escapades on your Facebook page, but keep in mind that photos posted online tend to be much more visible – including to potential employers – than you’d imagined.

Editor: Obviously, depending on your personal brand, this may be fine. But, if pictures of you dancing on the bar at the latest blogging conference is not in-tune with your standard online persona, you might want to think twice about them.

Not watching your online words.

Like photos, online communications (think blog posts, comments, association discussion lists, etc.) live on years beyond their original publication. Thinking about starting (or participating in) a flame war? Think twice – how would this look to a potential employer?

Editor: This is something I think the majority of bloggers, particularly women bloggers, know all too well. In our blogging community, it seems to happen all too often. One blog post about another blogger and/or their blog, leads to multiple comments, tweets, and other blog posts. Remember that via search engines, all of your words will live forever.

Sabotaging co-workers.

Word gets out quickly when you develop a reputation as a back-stabber. Play nice – when you help others succeed, they’ll be much more interested in helping you succeed.

Editor: Our blogging community can be a great benefit to each of us. I know that through recent exchanges within my own network, we’ve been able to help each other out with our blogs tremendously. But, it takes everyone playing nice and helping each other out equally.

Being unreliable.

Everybody drops a ball now and then, but if you consistently fail to meet deadlines, deliver papers on time, or show up prepared, you’ll develop a reputation for being unreliable and immature – regardless of how smart or talented you are.

Editor: If you agree to be part of a campaign that has a specific time line, then you need to meet that time line. If you’ll be unable to do so, the professional thing to do is to communicate with your contact for that campaign and provide a new time line that is agreeable to both parties.

Taking credit for others’ or team efforts.

A professional looks for ways to give credit to those who have earned it. If you take credit for others’ work or successes, you will develop a reputation as a selfish, untrustworthy co-worker. That reputation quickly makes its way to bosses and potential employers.

Editor: Give credit where credit is due. If you were inspired by another blogger, then say so. If you worked with someone on a project, then give them the proper credit.

Being difficult to work with.

You don’t want to develop a reputation as the person who’s temperamental, moody, arrogant, negative, or always taking offense at perceived slights. You want colleagues at previous jobs to want to work with you again, and recommend you to their new employers. If “difficult to work with” is part of your professional brand, everyone will find ways to avoid working with you!

Editor: I have heard that PR agencies do talk to each other. If you’re known to be hard to work with on campaigns, word may spread. The same for clients. People look for recommendations and your goal is to be recommended amongst your network and your network’s network.

Neglecting to say “thank you.”

Throughout your career, a lot of people will help you in various ways. Remembering to thank them, especially with a written note, is not just a professional courtesy, it’s how you build a reputation as a conscientious and appreciative colleague. Failing to do so marks you as unappreciative and selfish – characteristics unlikely to contribute to a positive professional brand.

Editor: Even in blogging and other online businesses, thanking those you worked with – as a client, on a campaign, etc. – will be appreciated. And yes, personal handwritten notes are still loved by many, but even an email will go a long way.

Kim Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. Kim recently created a three-part webinar series for Bryant & Stratton College Online to help people identify ways to make themselves marketable for future and current employers. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.

Do you tend to think about how your actions might affect your personal brand?

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1 Lucilla Feliciano October 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Neglecting to say “Thank You” is a pet peeve of mine. Two little words that mean so much especially when people do unexpected things for others. I teach my nephews that even with family, their grandmothers, brothers, and aunts, that they must say “Thank You”.

Not Watching your words online- With so many people that you don’t know online and disagree with, things could get out of hand. If there is a situation that has involved an internet dispute, I don’t participate. I remember that if I don’t have anything nice to say or write, I won’t get sucked into the battles that occur. I wait till I have my chance in real life to let people now how I feel. People’s egos are easily inflated these days with their online cronies supporting their point of view. Even if they are wrong, they don’t see it until people like me limit conversation and contact with them. And yet, they fail to see that their reputation in real life and on line are all connected these days.

Good post!

2 unknownmami October 11, 2010 at 1:21 am

Great advice.

In line with watching your words, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes tone does not translate in writing. You might write something you think is a joke and someone else takes it at face value because they cannot see or hear you.

3 Anonymous October 13, 2010 at 10:02 pm

The over-sharing of photos and information is so tricky. It’s true, if we blog about our personal life we still have to think twice to upload those bar-hopping photos if we normally don’t do that. I would say that if we are in doubt, better not do it then!

I also agree with the Thank you, I don’t know but for some reason it goes a longer way with the blogging world. This world is so personal that the thank you really does magic!

4 Monica October 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I think that neglecting to say thank you might be one of the most common mistakes. I know I get so busy with so many projects, that I sometimes forget this important task and am always appalled when I realize this mistake. I would also add “sincerity” to the mix. It’s easy to say thank you, but to say it sincerely means so much more to a person than a back-handed thanks.

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