In this column I discuss a topic that has my company rethinking our marketing and selling strategies: how to use social and digital media to expand your brand reach and create more opportunities for your business.
Having been on the sales and marketing side of the IT world for the past 15 years, I have a special interest in B2B technology. My last corporate job was with a large IT VAR [value-added reseller]. My marketing team helped position the firm as a market leader with expertise in its solutions offerings.
Having learned from both our successes and our failures, we formed a company to help other IT resellers get the most from their digital and social marketing and sales efforts. I share some of our most valuable tips below.
“We don’t define our brands – others do. We have to project our best selves and the brand follows.” D. Wolff
In today’s networked world, you need to provide value to your community to be relevant. Gary Vaynerchuk, a New Jersey businessperson-turned-nationally-known-social-guru, espouses in his book “The Thank You Economy” that social media requires tech business leaders to think like small-town shop owners.
For your tech business to be successful, you must make people want to do business with you. How? By providing expertise without a hard sell, nurturing relationships and remaining foremost in your customers’ mind. People buy from people they like. That’s how we got the idea of packaging your personal brand in the digital world.
What is a brand? It’s the known identity of a company in terms of what products and services it offers. It’s also the essence of what the company stands for in terms of service and other emotional, nontangible consumer concerns.
Tech companies, products and services all have or are brands, but guess what? People in our field do, too. That’s called a personal brand. And in the digital age, it’s becoming increasingly important for you to manage your personal brand.
How do you appear online to your colleagues, partners, customers, prospects and friends when they search for you? What do people think of first when they think of you?
When you need a specific type of expertise, you think of someone you know or have heard about who is an authority in that field.
What comes to mind when people think of you? Stop and ponder that a minute. What are your strengths? What do you stand for? Where do you add value? Keep these things in mind, as they are all part of your personal brand.
LinkedIn is the No. 1 online business technology community and a key platform for building your personal brand. Many of our clients who use LinkedIn ask us whether their profile should represent just their professional life or personal details as well.
The answer is both. Your brand package is what makes you unique; it is composed of the whole persona that is uniquely you. It is your profession, title, education, hobbies and experiences — everything that makes you you — specially mixed together as in a recipe. Add your personal interests for garnish! Maintain that unique brand because it’s what makes people want to do business with you.
Here are three practical, hands-on tips that can really make a difference:
1. Have a close look at your personal photo on your LinkedIn profile. Do you look like you are in pain? Bored? Far away? Make it so it’s up-close and personal. Look directly at the camera.
2. Does your summary talk about you — your technical or sales expertise and experience, your value — or is it a brochure for your company? Is it in the first person? Does it paint a good picture of what you feel strongly about, what you’re good at, what you espouse?
3. Do the words under your name reflect a job title or your expertise? It’s the No. 1 search criterion in LinkedIn, so it’s important that it express your skills.
Here’s an idea — read the following list:
Death Star CEO
Galactic Empire Citizen
Who comes to mind when you read these descriptions? Now that’s a personal brand.
Anita O’Malley is founder of digital marketing company Perspectiv3 (Skillman). She can be found here on LinkedIn.