Reputation missteps to avoid during the holidays

Don’t let the eggnog go to your head. Be mindful of land mines to dodge this time of year. (And we’re not just talking about the company party.)

Throughout the year you should focus on building a personal brand (reputation) that is consistent with your values and goals and the needs of your target audience. Paying attention to your reputation ensures you are managing (and even directing!) the opportunities that come your way. From business ventures to personal relationships, your personal brand drives the laws of attraction in your favor.

Unfortunately for many, the holiday season seems to be a time when focus on self and long-term vision takes a backseat. While everyone’s holiday experience is unique, the season from November-January is typically filled with urgency (end of year goals, deadlines), jubilation (personal and professional), and reflection (how did we do this year?). Moving into the new year should bring hope and optimism, not panic or reputation repair from being careless during the holidays.

To protect your reputation during the holidays, avoid these classic land mines:

1. Trying to be someone you’re not.

Your reputation and personal brand are how others—your audiences—perceive you. You can spend years crafting a brand that positions you as trustworthy, honest, collaborative and inspiring. One mistake and all your positioning can come into question. The holiday season is not the time to try on a new persona and attempt to convince your colleagues, customers, vendors and other audiences that you are someone you’re not. Instead, focus on being authentic with the people who trust you, endorse you, and refer you.

Related: The Ethics Coach on Misprepresentation

2. Overly casual online conversations.

After some eggnog, you might feel overconfident about telling that blogger, online “friend,” or colleague what you really think. Hands off the keyboard! You might feel brave or invincible, but if your comments are not focused and consistent with your vision for your desired reputation, you could sabotage years of hard work and consistent behavior. The online conversation empowers many with a sense of anonymity and protection. In fact, professionals are fired daily from inappropriate or insensitive posts made online.

Related: Did Best Buy’s Tweet About ‘Serial’ Go Too Far? Or Was It Funny?

3. Letting loose at the company party.

A time to meet colleagues from other offices and build relationship with clients, the company party is a great time to unwind and celebrate. However, losing sight of the reputation you’ve earned can be damaging. Pay attention to your alcohol consumption, office gossip, sharing of news and company information, the appropriateness of your holiday attire and your overall behavior at the company party to ensure your only January hangover is in your brain.

Related: How to Behave at Your Office Holiday Party

4. Forgetting gratitude

Are you forgetting to thank your online followers, clients, vendors, strategic partners and staff at the holidays? Yes, you are busy and there is so much to do…but these are the people who support you and endorse and validate you throughout the year. Be sure to show appreciation to those who bring your reputation to life year round.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

5. Forgetting your desired brand

Now is not the time to forget the reputation you want for yourself. Instead, focus your efforts, celebrations, gratitude and interactions on supporting the perception you want your clients, colleagues, staff, vendors and partners to have of who you are and what you stand for. Your personal brand and desired reputation take a career to build and the focus is on consistency, not perfection.

The experiences you have over the holidays can be wonderful expressions of your values and goals. Be sure to stay mindful of the vision you have for your personal brand, company brand and the needs of your target audience. Use the timing of “holidays” to enhance your value to your communities instead of damage the expectation others have of who you are and what you offer that is of value.

Related: What It Really Means to Have a Personal Brand

Lida Citroën is a reputation management and personal branding expert. A version of this article originally appeared on Copyright © 2014 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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