4 Personal Branding Do's and Don'ts: Online Dating-Style

Having been single for a looong time (let's not go there right now), I can tell you that I've seen my fair share of profile photos on plenty of online dating sites. I even get emails on the regular from sites like Christian Mingle, Ashley Madison (that site for cheaters), and all sorts of other ethnic/religious sites that I have zero desire to join. Plus that weird one for farmers. Anyways- across all of the sites I've joined, and in the three major cities I've lived in -- Berkeley/Bay Area, Boston, and LA-- I've noticed one very interesting thing. In this day and age of "everything is public online," a lot of people haven't quite figured out where to draw the line on their dating profile pictures. How the hell does this relate to personal branding? Well, it's pretty simple, actually. When you create a dating profile for yourself, you're essentially creating a personal brand-- the same way you would for your business. You want to be perceived in a certain way: fun, sexy, cool, easy going, adventurous, whatever. But there are also some perceptions you might want to avoid. I've rounded up some interesting pictures that I've come across lately to help you create your personal brand while still being authentic and letting your true voice shine through...online dating style.

1. BE GENUINE

be genuine
be genuine

Ok, I had to start with this one, because it was too funny an experience not to share. Being genuine and yourself is my number one rule on social media and in life but this one really took the cake for being a total faker. At first glance, it just looks like a cute, shirtless dude at a swim meet, right? Guy's name is Jon, he's 26, and 10 miles away from me. The thing is, I know the guy in this picture from college. His name isn't Jon, and he doesn't even live in the United States right now. So it turned out that this guy on Tinder was using my former Cal classmate's picture (I can't totally blame him, Guy is a total hottie and an Olympic swimmer) for his Tinder profile picture. But what's even WEIRDER is that Tinder pulls photos from your facebook...so he's also using that as his Facebook profile picture. Moral of the story? Use photos that are you, look like you, and when people meet you in person, they can tell that you're the same person as in your avatar. And don't steal other people's photos. It's just creepy.

2. HOBBIES ARE GOOD... IN MODERATION.

Cello
Cello
poker
poker

I'll be the first to admit, I'm becoming a little bit too known for my cat lady-tendencies on my personal social media pages. But on dating sites? I'm trying to keep it to a minimum. I want guys to know that I like animals, not think of me as a crazy cat lady. My friends know that I'm a crazy animal lady but in a good way, not in a hoarder way-- and that's the very very fine line that can be very easily crossed here. You love to play a musical instrument? AWESOME. Do you need to go running in the ocean for a glamour shot with it? Maybe not. (Though it's kind of funny.) Same goes for poker- do you love it sooo much you want to show everyone your tattoo that requires you to be half naked in order to do so? Think about what that tells your audience when you're creating your brand.

3. BE UNIQUE, NOT TERRIFYING.

clown
clown
scary
scary

I'm all for attracting your target demographic-- whether that's people you want to work with or people you want to date-- and with that comes an awareness of the fact that you'll inevitably probably alienate some of the people who aren't in your target demographic. That's a good thing! People who want to work with me generally will appreciate my sassiness, my salty language, my honesty and my quirkiness, because my online brand has already shown them that that's what they're getting (and shown people who aren't looking for that that it wouldn't be a good fit.) But in trying to attract the right people, it's generally a good idea not to terrify the rest. You want people thinking you'd like to date (or work with) them...not murder them when they've turned their backs.

4. SOMETIMES, LESS IS JUST LESS.

legs
legs
naked
naked

Sometimes, the temptation to put it all out there is SO DAMN STRONG. I get it. You want to shout it from the mountain tops- "Here I am, love it or leave it!" And hell, I do it once in a while, and to be honest, I've gotta give these dudes kudos for their full monty performances online- you never know who's going to be looking at your profiles! But in all honestly, I'd recommend leaving a bit to the imagination once in a while as well. Got a problem with a client? Think twice before vaguebooking it (or post privately to a group instead.) You're potty training your kiddo? Mayyybe leave out some of the details. Mystery can be sexy too.

Personal branding is a loaded topic. You want to be yourself and have people know you quickly, but you don't want to reveal too much too quickly. You want to show your hobbies and interests, but not come off as crazy or obsessed. You want to stand out, and be attractive, and unique... which, strangely enough, applies both to online dating and your "professional" personal branding as well. It's a fine balance, but it gets easier with time. And yes, there will always be the outliers like Tom Green, who made his entire personal brand off humping dead animals (at least that's how I remember him, ack.), or the Jackass guys. But I think for the vast majority of people, these tips apply! Oh, and be nice to people. No one likes a douchebag.

Ps. The above pictures? Say a lot about why I'm still single. If you want to set me up, let's talk.