Personal branding has become increasingly important for sales professionals. During the hiring process, it’s a given that recruiters will look up your profile on LinkedIn and other platforms. But the importance of branding doesn’t end there.
Social selling is a highly effective sales tactic that can no longer be ignored. 78% of sales professionals who use social media outperform peers who are less social media savvy. According to some estimates, 86% of IT buyers use social media to research a purchase. Oftentimes, this research takes place before ever speaking to a sales representative.
In order to land a great sales job and succeed in your role, you need to have social media in your corner. That means creating a personal brand.
Here are some tips for how to do personal branding effectively:
1. Identify your Unique Selling Proposition.
Ultimately, the purpose of personal brands is for people to associate you with particular skills and areas of expertise. You want people to say, “She’s great at X.”
To start cultivating that brand, it helps to identify your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. What defines you as a sales professional? What do you do really well? Create a short pitch. Then, you want to use that pitch to inform the rest of your social media presence. That means incorporating certain language into your LinkedIn profile, choosing to share relevant content, and otherwise proving your USP through your social media.
2. Invest in a professional headshot.
A photograph from your cell phone is not adequate for professional purposes. Hire a professional photographer to take a great headshot that you can use for branding purposes. Make sure that the photographer is experienced with corporate headshots before investing in a photo shoot.
In general, try to go for a neutral background and wardrobe. Detailed patterns often don’t show up as well in a small headshot. When selecting a photo to use, go for professionalism above all else so avoid wearing sunglasses or hats in your picture.
Once you’ve selected your best shot, use the same photo across all social media platforms. That helps you become easily recognizable to customers and recruiters.
3. Identify which channels your prospective audience are on and develop a presence there.
One common mistake people make is trying to be on every platform. It’s more effective to cultivate a strong presence on just a few platforms and then target these platforms carefully. Spend some time observing and figuring out where the people you want to reach are spending the most time.
For professional purposes, LinkedIn is a must. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may also be helpful. Before diving in, get a sense of the landscape. What hashtags are people in your field using? Are there major groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that may be advantageous for you? You want to go in with a plan instead of just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
4. Create a strong LinkedIn profile that differentiates you.
LinkedIn remains the most important platform for professional networking. It’s worth investing in a custom URL so that it’s easy for people to find you.
Next, spend time developing your profile. Create a headline that is specific, informative, and unique. Example:
Keep your summary short and informative. Most people won’t spend time reading every word, so consider including links back to articles you’ve written or other content you’ve delivered that can illuminate your impact on the industry.
LinkedIn testimonials are also a very helpful and underutilized tool. Ask people who know you well to write testimonials for your page that highlight ways that you’ve worked successfully together.
5. Develop a content strategy and carve out time for brand development.
Having a strategy is key for successful branding. Every piece of content you create should fit into your larger strategy and goals. Being strategic also helps you to be more efficient in your branding activities.
When it comes to personal branding, it’s easy to let things slide. Avoid the problem by creating a content schedule for yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything overly intensive, but commit to posting once or twice a week so that you’re regularly connecting your audience. Mark that time in your schedule the same way you would book sales meetings to ensure that you don’t push it off or ignore it on your to-do list.
6. Be genuine in responding to people and offering help.
Social media isn’t just a soapbox. It’s a tool for interaction. Helping others can oftentimes do more to establish your brand than anything else you can do.
Follow people, tags, and groups that are discussing subjects of interest to you. When appropriate, offer your expertise. Be kind and helpful.
Another good tactic for engagement is to share other people’s content on your platform. That shows your willingness to help others.
7. Try experimenting with video content.
Video content is growing in popularity. By some measures, video produces greater engagement than other kinds of content. So it’s worth producing video content and sharing it on social media.
While you probably don’t want to produce overly long videos, video offers several advantages over text. It can allow you to show more of your personality, which is so key for successful branding and can be a more intimate way of getting your message out. When your audience meets you in person, they’ll feel like they already know you. Ultimately, that’s what good branding does.
8. Share useful information on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
The key to success on social media is to provide value to others. You can best provide value by sharing information that is relevant to your target audience. Make it a point to share content regularly. You should be doing this more frequently than direct self-promotion.
Most of what you share should be directly relevant to your brand. It’s okay to provide occasional dog pics, but you don’t want that to become your brand instead of your expertise.