A well maintained brand is vital in telling the story of your product, culture, and team. This social footprint acts as a top-of-funnel resource for consumers to discover what you have to offer and ultimately begin their process to becoming a customer.
Companies invest heavily on the reputation of their product’s online presence and the “feel” of the brand is fine tuned to attract the optimal demographic. Marketing and sales teams have begun to realize that tremendous opportunity awaits in personal branding and how it can enhance their departments reach very effectively.
They are right.
A suggestion from a trusted professional is going to be more compelling than the marketing message of any product. This is particularly true in start-ups where the brand is still in the infancy stage and has not evolved into its own identity. How can we leverage the power of a personal brand to kick start the growth of our business?
Let’s begin by clearing up a common misconception regarding personal branding and the proceed to hammer out our focus.
The sole purpose of personal branding is not to make a career change.Tweet This
Often times we pigeon hole LinkedIn, networking, and personal branding solely as a tool to be used during a career search. While an effective online presence is a tremendous asset when a job hunt is necessary, it is only one of the many advantages to personal branding.
The benefits are far more important than simply landing your next interview. Unfortunately, this mindset establishes anxiety in employers concerned about losing their best staff — but can you blame them?
No employer wants their recruitment dollars and training programs to be squandered by their talent moving to another organization. They understand that an established personal network will provide their employees with recruiter attention and opportunities to leave, but if you feel apprehension when your team is developing their online brand, stop!
Trust them. Give them plenty of reasons to portray your business in the best light and coach them along the way. A valuable employee that enjoys working with the company will not jump ship at the next best offer.
Employees with extensive social footprints are an asset and not a liability.Tweet This
How do you spot a someone that understands the power of social networking and personal branding?
You shouldn’t have a hard time picking them out of the crowd. They’re likely to be following your brand’s social channels and may have already begun sharing the company objectives. They’re active online and often maintain a thought leadership blog or mailing list where they share their expertise. If you tweet, email, or reach out, they will respond professionally.
They are ambitious, dedicated, and passionate about their careers and hobbies. They built valuable experience while nurturing their network and they are happy to share. These are the epitome of entrepreneurs.
It’s time to join forces.
Start by discussing how to collaborate and empower these employees to continue building their influence. Embrace their leadership traits and develop a marketing strategy that will yield win-win benefits for both parties. Be sure to provide them with the right tools to consistently convey your brand amongst their network.
Your message must be clear.
Empowering employee’s to promote for your company is a powerful tactic when priming your business for growth and creates a sense of pride within the team. Suggest emphasizing company culture and why they enjoy working for the organization. They will quickly become loyal brand ambassadors and seek out opportunities to continue growing because they understand that they can make a difference.
Generosity and giving back — How to build the network
Identify the community you seek to leverage and begin researching.
Content marketers and personal branding specialists understand that it’s easier to receive something after they’ve given something away. This could be a recommendation, an introduction, or other valuable resources to help their network grow, but it needs to be presented in a genuine manner; a compliment often works wonders.
Since they are seeking industry influence, the focus on personalized outbound marketing is extensive. This approach cannot be faked or automated. People will see through it. The focus is to help people, help you. You won’t find success in interrupting them with half-hearted link spamming. This will ruin your authenticity, thus, weakening your brand.
People are naturally curious.
While providing value to the correct network, people will begin to investigate your brand. This is the opportunity to have something pique their interest or solve a pain point that they have been experiencing. (e.g., “So-and-so gave me great feedback on my article, let me investigate their profile. Oh, they a background in CRM, I could ask about their expertise to help my team.”) Conversation and opportunity begin.
Taking this hands on approach to help others not only demonstrates leadership, but it establishes an intimate network of like minded professionals and builds influence. Influence that can be used to drive sales down the road and grow your business.
How an effective personal brand creates social influenceTweet This
Open and connected leaders are trusted by their respective communities; thus their opinions and expertise influence the industry. Think about a leader in your market and why they have your attention. Are you inclined to follow them because they share similar beliefs and behaviors as your own? Perhaps they share content and thoughts that you find intrinsically rewarding.
Do you trust their perspective? Why?
Think about that same individual announcing that they are shifting focus and endorsing a new project. Are you more inclined to consider what they have to share?
These compelling influencers have built their brands through a concerted effort on outbound marketing while establishing their expertise. They seek new connections for growth, but keep it within their target. While developing a solid base audience, they cultivate their network by providing valuable content and insight. This creates security and confidence within the community — their brand consistently maintains this level of integrity.
Optimizing your network for growth — and fast!
Influencers optimize this process to appeal to the appropriate community. Over time they generate credibility and people want to hear what they have to say. This is when true social influence begins. Their recommendation or endorsement is extremely valued and will yield higher conversion rates due to the quality of their audience.
Testing marketing messages and ideas can be completed with agility because these brands are managed by a single entity or a small team — and their network will provide honest feedback, because they have earned their trust. This network can also evolve to accommodate new products and innovations. (e.g., your business.) Accomplish this by:
Asking the network for an evaluation of the brand, message, or product
Testing different motivating factors to guide consumers through stages of the sales funnel
Using social influence to connect with other industry leaders to discuss promotional strategies
Creating compelling content that the community will love to share, measure the effectiveness …remember, if you help them, they will continue to help you.
Social influence creates a powerful feedback loop for your business to leverage. This is because people interact and empathize with other people, not a product. A business does not grow independently.
We need to understand that people within the organization withhold the power to ultimately strengthen and grow the company.
Conclusion and takeaway
Identify, Grow, Influence, Optimize, & Repeat
Identify your audience and empower employees to brand your company
Focus on the growth of your personal brand to subsequently develop business endeavors
Influence the industry with your knowledge and be the solution to its pain points
Continually optimize to create a win-win situation for all parties
Repeat the process to incorporate more brands over time
Being authentic is the key to growing any brand. The audience must trust and respect what you stand for to become accepting. This is created by becoming an essential asset by giving back to the community.