Volumes have been written about developing your corporate brand—and rightly so. Having a positive, clearly articulated, polished reputation in the market helps attract new customers. But developing your own personal brand may be just as important, and can help win those new customers.
After all, people really don’t buy from companies. They buy from people. Business always has been, and always will be, about relationships. But turning relationships into a brand-building exercise requires planning and patience.
To start, there are plenty of social tools, including LinkedIn and Twitter, to spread your message and garner interest in what you’re selling. And yes, they do work. As a solution provider, what would be better than having people know you and trust your opinion—even if you’ve never met them? That’s what you’re striving for.
This month I’m offering five tips to help you develop your own brand; next month, we’ll continue with ideas to improve your social selling. I’ve compiled this list with the help of Kirsten Boileau, SAP’s resident in-house social/branding expert.
- Complete your online profile.
A quick sampling of my LinkedIn contacts shows that many of them don’t offer much information beyond their name, title and work experience. You’re not going to attract many customers that way. Your profile should include what you like about your job and how you help customers solve business problems. Also—very important—keep it customer-centric. Nobody cares how many times you filled your quota or went to Winner’s Circle. They care about whether or not you can help them achieve their goals.
- Listen first.
It may seem counterintuitive, but do not talk about yourself when building your personal brand. Instead, listen to what your audience is saying; find out what resonates with them, then develop content around that. In the early stages of building your reputation as a thought leader and a trusted adviser, you want to share things that really speak to your audience. When you truly know what their pain points and challenges are, they’re more likely to pay attention to what you have to say.
- Establish your voice, and stick to it.
Once your profile is updated, and you know your audience, you’re ready to start talking. As you start to develop content to share, remember to keep it strong, keep it consistent. Developing your brand is no time for shrinking violets. The more you say (make that the more valuable you say), the better. Be bold, be original. Finally, always keep in the back of your mind: Is this something that other people will share? If the answer is yes, you’re doing great.
- Create your own personal board of directors.
We all need advice every once in a while, or someone to run ideas by to make sure our messages still resonate and are relevant. Leveraging a small group of people whom you trust--your own personal board of directors, if you will--can provide great value to the development of your brand. These may be people who have a vested interest in your success, but it’s probably not a bad idea to include someone you don’t have deep ties with for more objective feedback.
- Network, then network some more.
The more you share, and the more places you share, the greater the chance of your voice being heard. This includes sharing relevant content from other sources. If you take the time to promote others, you’ll soon find that they’re willing to reciprocate. If you want to be social, you have to be socially active. You can’t just post your own ideas once in a while and hope they get noticed.
Although it seems simple, execution of developing a personal brand takes time, patience and work. Work at it, learn along the way, and, before you know it, prospects and customers will be knocking on your door and listening to what you have to say.
SAP offers partners a complete portfolio of end-to-end business solutions that include applications such as ERP, as well as analytics and databases for customers of all sizes. All of these solutions can be powered by SAP HANA, the powerful real-time computing platform; are mobile-ready; and can be delivered via on-premise, cloud or through a hybrid model.
Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://www.sap.com/partners/.
Ira Simon is vice president, Partner Marketing & Communications, at SAP. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.