How do I use social media to build my personal brand?
When you are starting out as a consultant you’ll need to build a professional profile, one that lifts you above the general population of consultants and makes you stand out.
When you’re developing a personal brand, you’ll need to take a different approach than the tactics you would employ to grow a company brand.
And in today’s connected world, over 90% of prospective customers would trust information from people they know when considering who to buy from, which makes building personal connections through social media the most effective way to develop trust and authority in you and your profile.
The art of social selling
The goal is to use social media to reach out to those that you’ll want eventually to buy your services, build a presence and rapport, and then use the social platforms to showcase the added value you bring.
“Social selling is the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with potential contacts and customers on your social media networks.”
But one very important part of social selling is to remember is that it is more about social and less about selling.
Social selling means you are having regular contact with your online network via conversations or making contributions to ongoing discussions in groups and communities that you are a part of.
And through trial and error, you’ll discover that social networks are an excellent source of lead generation and help you nurture prospective clients wowed by your efforts on “thought leadership” and insightful comments and posts.
These moments when you are sharing your expertise are a touch point, that allows you to present yourself as being a professional, a subject matter expert keen to educate rather than sell.
Twitter and LinkedIn can easily become distractions and there is the perception that they are used more to search for new jobs rather than business development. But, the advantage they have is the ability to grow a network by making direct contact to interested parties.
Outside these social networks it is getting much harder with the introduction of new data privacy regulations and way too much advertising noise to attract and engage with your target audience.
To start your journey into social selling, an important first step is to decide which social media network you want to focus on, have the time for and is one that your target audience uses.
A part of social selling is to distribute other people’s content about your industry or profession. It is well received that you take the time to read and share what fellow professionals are saying, highlights the subject areas that you are interested in and opens up conversations.
Participating in the social conversation
Social media platforms are an effective research tool, on customers and competitors to gain insight on what they are doing. So, a lot of time can be spent doing social prospecting, monitoring networks for signs of customer interest, significant news, new jobs, contracts won, etc.
The role of a social seller is to build relationships by offering advice and professional insights. So, you should set out to be seen as a regularly quoted and re-tweeted “thought leader”. And by keeping an eye on what is happening with your targeted audience you can connect your thoughts with their news.
Before you reach out directly to your prospective new network, research common connections for warm introductions and points of shared interest that you can leverage at the right moment. And then most importantly, see what groups they participate in and who they are following and interacting with.
We have put together below some ideas to help you use social media networks to build your personal brand.
Create a target customer or client persona
Creating a persona for your customer will help you target your efforts to the right audience. A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on what you know about your existing customers, or research you do on a new target audience.
The whole point of doing this kind of research is to match a customers’ challenges with your expertise. If you are going to get the attention you’ll need to show that you understand and empathise with their problems.
Choose your social networks
You don’t have to be on them all, just the ones that matter to your audience and fit you as you develop your personal brand. Remember to take an interest in what others are doing to boost your credibility by taking an interest.
There are a number of factors that you should consider as you plan your social media efforts to build your profile:
- Time — How much time can you devote to developing your social media presence?
- Resources — When you are up and running how you allocate your limited resources will depend on which social media channels you are publishing to, how frequently and whether you are engaging in conversations as well.
Pick your social media posting strategy
How frequent should you post? What’s the ideal amount to post per day? When should you post? What should you post?
If you are just starting out on these social networks, with no audience and no history, for business weekdays are best probably early in the morning. But this can also be a case of trial and error.
So much of the social media experience is about how your target audience interacts on these social media platforms. You always need to think from the perspective of the audience you are communicating with and not want your personal preferences are.
The more you post, the more you’ll discover what type of content, timing, and frequency is right for the social network that you are trying to make an impact on.
Find the right groups to connect with
Facebook and LinkedIn both offer great opportunities to join groups focused on specific topics, industries, professions, interests, etc. If you can find groups that line up with your area of expertise, then you’ll be able to share that experience and build authority around your personal brand.
Give rather than take
If you want to create a memorable brand, you need to give people a reason to remember you. Freely give away some of your time, advice, tips and any other resources you have at hand to your connections.
Questions are a great way to spark a conversation and improve your visibility, as hopefully others join in the discussion.
Lurking around in the background is not going to make your profile front of mind, but also don’t go to the other extreme and appear to be everywhere all the time which can be a bit daunting for your connections.
Monitor your mentions
Google alerts is easy to set up and there are a number of other smart online tools that help you track mentions of you or common keywords that you are tracking in your area of expertise.
Social media requires engagement, too. When people comment on something you have posted, or you have started a conversation, remember to set aside time to follow-up and keep track of what is happening.
A key point here is to learn how to become buyer-centric, and think in terms of how the audience that you are trying to build a profile with would respond or react to the posts you make.
Ultimately when you start to invest in building your professional profile with the consulting community, it is not something you can do in bursts and then leave unattended – for your profile to grow it needs to be nurtured and fed so that you can eventually harvest the benefits from all the hard work.
Let us know if you need some help on building your consulting profile or if you want to understand more about the services that we offer at Brainping.
We are always happy to hear from you.
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