Networking in the Digital Age

Welcome to our second guest post from Rhys Furner  – Digital Strategy Manager at Reload Business Group.

Recently I discussed how sales enthusiasm is a key ingredient to a good salesperson. But, how do we carry sales enthusiasm over to social and online channels to build personal brand equity?

Companies large and small have heavily invested in creating brand equity. To put this into perspective, if you were at a supermarket and you saw a can of coke for $2 and a can of home brand cola for $0.75, you would be highly likely to buy the can of coke, due to the brand’s equity. Good salespeople are cottoning on to this and are creating personal brand equity.

Salespeople with high personal brand equity are better placed within their organisation, and with their clients because they deliver on their promises. Subsequently, the organisations in which they represent also enjoy a good return. The better a salesperson’s brand equity, the greater their believability – i.e. the salesperson’s credibility rises along with that equity and the more cost-effectively they sell. They tend to get less pressure for discounts and find customers and prospects are more cooperative simply because buyers see value in having them help address their key issues.

So, brand equity is incredibly important to differentiate salespeople, and luckily, it isn’t overly difficult to create:

  1. The first step in creating personal brand equity is consistency. You must maintain a high level of communication, service, client understanding and strategy month on month.
  2. Have a clear promise. Don’t try and be someone you’re not, or deliver a solution that you’re not 100% certain your organisation can deliver on. Good salespeople live off the mantra ‘the promise I make is the promise I keep’.
  3. Be visible. Whether this is through blogging, industry news or social networks. Ensure that you maintain your clear promise through these mediums.

Online channels such as Linked In and Google+ are great ways to carry over a face-to-face relationship into the online world and to build personal brand equity. Having a professional relationship through these channels allows you to have ‘lightweight interactions over a period of time’ with your key business contacts. Subsequently, by being in the face of your key business contacts with great quality content, you will create personal brand equity, which can enhance and foster long term relationships, subsequently resulting in more sales.

To maximise such a relationship, there are some key things that salespeople need to ensure across their social channels:

  • Complete your Linked In profile 100%. No one likes a Linked In profile with very little information.

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  • Connect with your key business contacts on Linked In and add them to your circles on Google+. Everyone is only two degrees of separation away, so you never know the doors that could be opened due to an existing contact. I always connect immediately with someone whom I have interacted with through a meeting or phone conversation. This allows you to examine who these people are connected to, which can provide some invaluable information. Especially if someone you’re looking to do business with is connected to a competitor or good friend. This information can change your business development strategy for that particular client. Please ensure that you don’t use the standard Linked In connection message. Personalise your message and never ask for a favour before getting to know someone.
  • Ask for recommendations from your key contacts. This can really add value to your personal brand equity. Once you connect with potential clients, they will see that industry contacts have recommended you, and they will therefore feel safer in moving into a business relationship with you.

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  • Join industry groups. This can be a great way to share content, answer questions, or get to know like-minded professionals. Have a look through Linked In’s group directory and see what’s for you.

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  • Create your Linked In URL and have it in your email signature or even your business card (mine is au.linkedin.com/in/rhysfurner/). To do this:
    • Log into Linked In
    • In the left navigation area, click ‘edit my profile’
    • In the first large profile block, you’ll see a line that says ‘public profile’ followed by the current URL
    • Click ‘edit’ to the right of the URL and select an available and unique URL
  • Create high value content through your company’s blog or other industry blogs and post this content across your social networks. This will ensure that your contacts see you as an industry thought leader and it will constantly put your face in front of your contacts with genuinely useful information.

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  • Use Google+ Authorship so your articles are linked to your Google+ profile. This will increase your content’s chances of ranking in the organic SERPs and will increase your article’s visibility and traffic.

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If you’d like to know more about setting up a Linked In profile, here is a really useful tool: http://www.bluewiremedia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/LinkedIn-Your-Personal-Strategy-2013-v1.7.pdf

Overall, networking in the digital age to build personal brand equity relies upon consistency, having a clear promise, and being visible on your social channels through industry leading content. This will give you a much better chance of harnessing long-term relationships with key business contacts that generate real business dollars.