Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Your Social Presence
I just finished watching the documentary about the Fyre Festival, the catastrophically fraudulent music festival in the Bahamas a few years ago that had millennials paying thousands of dollars to attend–and they ended up sleeping in FEMA tents, eating cheese sandwiches, searching for toilets and hearing no music.
While the story itself is intensely interesting, the larger underlying message is about the power of social media, and how the founders of the festival were able to build an entire presence around what turned out to be a non-event with a few well-placed celebrity postings on multiple social media platforms.
My point, of course, is not to endorse something like what Billy McFarland and Ja Rule did. But it is to say that only a decade ago, something like the Fyre Festival never could have happened. Like it or not, social media is a powerful tool and has changed the landscape in every aspect of our lives–including professional branding.
In many ways, you are an “influencer,” both for yourself and your company. In 2017, 81% of buyers did online research before purchasing, growing to 87% in 2018. In today’s world, the customer lifecycle is an ongoing process, often with buyers determining whether they want to work with you before you even get a conversation or meeting. Don’t underestimate the value of a first impression.
If a prospective buyer went to your LinkedIn account, what would they see? John Smith, Account Executive, at XYZ? Sure, that quickly tells the audience that you are in sales, but does it make you stand out? Does it offer any glimpse of your personality or highlight how you can help your buyer? Remember, customers can buy from anyone; tell them why they should buy from you.
Your headline doesn’t have to be your job title and company. Instead, you can use that space to showcase your specialty, value, and what sets you apart from others. And make sure your image is appropriate and professional. This can either be a great headshot or even showcase you in action–on stage delivering a keynote, for instance.
When possible, use numbers upfront in your summary. Say something like, “I have helped more than 200 companies find the right solution to more effectively run their business and save money.” It only takes a few powerful stats to impress the audience.
Speaking of audience, try to connect with the right network of people, but don’t add people you don’t know. Your account could be shut down if too many people reject your request stating they don’t know you.
Give your connections a glimpse of who you are. Discuss what you do outside of work. Include the volunteer experiences that you are involved in, and write in the friendlier, less pretentious first person instead of third person.
To expand your network, consider joining groups on LinkedIn and add positive comments as appropriate, being sure to exercise extreme discretion before posting anything provocative or negative. Always remember, the internet is permanent. Even if you delete a post, somebody else could have screen grabbed it and reposted it.
When leveraging social selling, avoid cold call messages or overly direct sales messages. A best practice is to reach out to people you know and ask if there is anything you can help them with. Offer to share new information that they may be interested in, such as articles on industry trends.
Perhaps you want to write your own blog on industry trends–the platform makes it easy to publish. This can be a great way to share your perspective, showcase your