Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook — so many platforms, so little time. You’ve probably got an account on each of these social networks and more, and they can be great for connecting with family and sharing everyday life. But if you listen to the latest batch of “social selling experts,” the online world is the end of cold calls, face-to-face meetings and selling expertise.
To this, I say “horsepucky.” Google is just like the Yellow Pages, Twitter is the latest party line and LinkedIn is a fancy networking program. It isn’t that these environments aren’t germane — they’re just not the end of everything else. You may not like the online realm and I am not saying you’ve got to get out there — but you do. Online presence is mandatory.
Today, I’m going to focus on LinkedIn from the perspective of the new copier salesperson.
Building your brand
I’ve spent more than 10,000 hours online, but this doesn’t make me an expert. There is no such thing as a social media expert. No matter how many webinars, three-minute videos, books or tweets you see, those who claim to be an expert in social branding are no more enlightened than you or I. As a matter of fact, when it comes to your personal branding, you know more than anyone.
The brand you are building is yours and any attempt to shortcut or instill a belief skews your presentation toward your mentor’s beliefs. My advice? Go forth and explore. Learn what you need on your own and never forget, it is YOUR brand, not your OEM’s or dealer’s.
By now you’ve ventured out to LinkedIn and built your profile. Perhaps you’ve “liked” your company’s LI page or even shared a few articles, but for all intents and purposes, you’re a “lurker.” Everybody starts out as a voyeur and that’s the best way to learn what not to do.
Without sounding like an expert, here are a few things to remember when building your brand on LinkedIn:
Your prospects will check out whatever you post, share, comment or like. This goes without saying — it tells your story to the world. But isn’t that the point?
When you picture the audience you wish to attract, imagine your mother is in that audience. This is an outside-in practice. You’ve got to remember that you are projecting with every keystroke. Once you secure this frame of thought, you begin to manage and mold your projections. Not only will prospects look you up, but recruiters, co-workers, high school friends, and ex and future bosses will also ping your profile
For example, if you’re selling into the manufacturing vertical, post and share content related to the manufacturing niche; raw material costs, new purchasing policies, specific relevant technology advances, etc.
On the personal front, presenting basic and relevant employment experience is a simple way to tell folks where you’ve been. I’m not a big fan of posting a detailed resume on LinkedIn — if what you’ve done is of interest, you’ll be worth an email or phone call.
Be natural, be confident and relevant.
Contribute, don’t sell. Ask anyone on LinkedIn to name the most annoying thing about the platform and you’ll get the response, “I hate being sold to online.” What is actually being said is, “most salespeople don’t know anything more than high-pressure selling, even online.” It’s true. As soon as one accepts an invite, it seems the selling begins. Don’t be like that.
Also, some posts in our niche are self-aggrandizing infomercials. I get that you’re happy for making the “Best of the Best” list, but beyond you, who else finds this relevant? I know what you’re thinking: “If a prospect sees my service team just earned the “Purple Unicorn Award” for best service from ABC OEM, I’ll seem more credible.” Believe me, your LI prospects don’t think like this.
Add to the conversation with honest experiences and relevant content.
It’s your brand, not that of your OEM or dealer. This is often missed. Unless your company is paying for your online accounts, the space on the platform is yours. It is your brand you are building — not your OEM’s, dealership’s or employer’s. Your dealership may (or may not) have a marketing budget and companies spend big money for clicks and eyeballs. So why would you use the company logo as your wallpaper unless you are compensated for the space?
There is a bigger issue — as a new rep you’ve been trained on your company’s latest offerings and indoctrinated into the reasons why your company is the best. It’s natural to be proud of your employer and team. That’s great. The underlining secret is that YOU enhance the company’s reputation more than the company adds to yours. It has always been true.
Build and promote brand “You.”
Have fun. LinkedIn is an average tool for business, the latest iteration of the local Chamber of Commerce or networking group. Many LinkedIn members look at the platform as a safe place to discuss business topics. A noble effort, but as with all societies, freedom loving humans do not perform forever in a fixed yet free-flowing environment; Personal touches and personality will prevail; life shouldn’t be all about work and business. LinkedIn is an open area, expressing your uniqueness which supports your brand, is as simple as posting a picture of your family, children or pet. It’s natural, organic.
In our world of synthetic societies and artificial intelligence displaying what connects us all, our humanity, becomes more relevant, every day.
Connect with realism, smile and laugh.
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