12 most surefire ways to damage your personal brand

Have you ever sent someone a note explaining why you don’t want to be Facebook friends? Do you ignore your website’s aesthetics? If so, stop. You’re only hurting yourself.

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Personal branding, once optional for everyone but celebrities and the ego-obsessed, has become a fact of life for anyone who maintains an online presence.

Most entrepreneurs and CEOs, accustomed to living in quiet obscurity, aren’t prepared for the public scrutiny that comes with writing a blog or opening a Twitter account.

Without a public relations expert or branding coach to help you navigate the murky, sometimes dangerous Internet waters, you may unwittingly taint your reputation by making these mistakes:

1. Wearing sunglasses in your profile picture.

Maybe you’re just sensitive to daylight, but shading your eyes in your profile picture makes it look like you have something to hide—evidence of a hangover or bar fight, the fact that your face is on an America’s Most Wanted poster, or that your ego is as big as your oversized frames.

If you don’t want anyone to know what you look like, keep away from social media. If you do want to promote your personal brand online, put away any eyewear that makes you look like a fugitive or highway patrolman.

2. Boasting about your drinking habits in your Twitter bio.

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