9. Personal Brand

When in doubt, we trust brands that we know.

For example, I was recently in Kazakhstan, a country with a tea culture. In Astana, there are numerous local cafés, yet when I was simply looking for a good coffee, my first choice was Starbucks and Costa Coffee. Not because I was sure I would get the best coffee in town there, but simply because I was sure I would get a coffee there that was good enough – not bad.

Sellers and founders should take advantage of this brand magic because when in doubt, people simply choose the seller or founder they are already familiar with.

Why are brands so interesting for sellers and founders?

  • A brand distinguishes you from other salespeople
  • A brand ensures awareness and recognition
  • A brand makes you well known
  • A brand ties your (desired) customers to you

With a properly positioned personal brand, your customer knows exactly what you stand for, which also makes it easier for them to recommend you to others.

In cold calling, we knock on the door of our potential customers unannounced.

The goal of our personal brand is to be discoverable, visible, and well-known.

That means, with a well-known brand, we are now on the other side of the door. Our potential customers are knocking on our door.

Moreover, when we knock on our customers’ door as a well-known brand, our customers already trust us, like an old acquaintance.

Your long-term goal should be to be findable, present and known on all relevant channels. As a seller and founder, you have a large arsenal of tools at your disposal for brand building, all of which you can use for your purposes. For example:

  • Professional use of LinkedIn
  • Activity on Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Podcast
  • Blog
  • YouTube channel
  • Webinars
  • Newsletters
  • whitepapers
  • Online ads
  • Livestreams
  • Seminars
  • Free Demonstrations
  • Free reports, e-books, and books
  • Free consulting, coaching, or strategy session
  • Sample materials/sample products
  • Infomercials
  • Glossy brochures
  • Workbooks
  • Giveaways
  • postcards
  • handwritten notes
  • Etc.

Importantly, this is not about marketing your business, but rather about branding yourself as a person.

Your goals should be:

  1. Positioning yourself as the absolute #1 expert in your niche.
  2. Visibility and presence on all channels, your customers are using.

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Pillar Content Strategy

To really be perceived as an absolute expert on different channels, you will need a lot of great content. The first challenge will be to create valuable content for your target audience and niche in the first place. The Pillar Content Strategy, by Gary Vaynerchuk, can help you to create content efficiently without having to invest several hours a day.

The Pillar Content Strategy is based on the following simple principle:

You set aside one day a week (or month) where you focus exclusively on creating high-quality content. The goal is to create a long and high-quality content post on that day.

This can be a long and detailed blog post on a specific topic, an industry-specific white paper, a high-quality YouTube video, a live talk you record, a webinar on a topic relevant to your customers, a podcast interview, etc.

The basic idea is this: from a really detailed content post, also called pillar content, you create and edit smaller content posts, also called micro content.

For example, if you write a long blog post, you can:

  • Send the blog post with your personal comment as a newsletter to all relevant subscribers,
  • Take highlights and quotes from the blog post, which you visualize in an appealing graphic and share on social media, always with a link to the original blog article.
  • Moreover, summarize the key points of the blog post in several one-minute videos, which you can share on LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, etc.

Or, if your source is a video, you can edit out numerous highlight clips from that video (podcast, interview, or webinar), which can also be shared via social media. From the video, you write a summary as a blog post, which you can in turn break down into shorter social media posts.

The idea is simple: from the Pillar Content, you create numerous smaller clips and snippets, which can be shared daily across a variety of channels.

The goal of a personal content marketing strategy is that anyone who is looking into your topic will inevitably come across your content, and thus you as an expert:

  • If he searches for your topic on Google, he will come across your blog.
  • If they search YouTube for your topic, they will find your videos.
  • If they search for your topic on LinkedIn, they will find your posts.
  • If they scroll through their Twitter or Instagram feed, they’ll find your posts.
  • Etc.

The Pillar Content Strategy offers you the opportunity to provide high-quality content to as many channels as possible with as little effort as possible.

You can also make yourself available as an interview guest for podcasts, and use this content for your brand.

The results won’t be measurable right away. You will slowly, step by step, grow into your content niche. Still, after a few months, you’ll become more discoverable, more visible, and better known. And thus, in just a few months, you will position yourself as an absolute expert in your niche, increase your credibility and create sympathy among your potential customers.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has 810 million active users worldwide.

That means the following:

  • The majority of decision makers use LinkedIn, this includes executive management, C-level decision makers, VP level, head of product management, etc.
  • The majority of job candidates use LinkedIn
  • The majority of investors use LinkedIn

The interesting question is this:
Why are these people on LinkedIn?

People are on LinkedIn for one selfish reason: to get ahead in life and in their career, that is, they want to make money and do business!

This can mean they are looking for:

  • Investment opportunities
  • Joint ventures
  • A new job
  • Synergies with other companies
  • People, products, and companies that can help them achieve their goals and solve problems.

Ultimately, all LinkedIn users are on LinkedIn for one selfish reason: to make business, money, and advance their careers.

This means people on LinkedIn actively want to be approached with promising deals, opportunities, jobs, etc. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be on LinkedIn!

This is precisely why I see LinkedIn as the absolute most important tool for every founder and every salesperson.

Discoverable, Visible, and Well Known

If you wish to tap into the potential of LinkedIn, you should be discoverable, visible, and well-known.

However, most people use LinkedIn passively. That is, they are discoverable, but not visible and not well-known.

If we use LinkedIn actively, we are bound to become visible and well-known eventually.

Let’s take a closer look.

Discoverable

No matter if a prospective customer, a potential investor or a possible job applicant is seeking us, all of them are highly likely to come across our LinkedIn profile.

Either they search for us directly on LinkedIn, or they search for us using Google, where our LinkedIn profile is very likely to be one of the top three search results.

Thanks to LinkedIn, these people will form a first impression about you as a person as well as your company.

LinkedIn therefore is THE face of every company and decides what impression a person has about us and our company.

Therefore, the way you present yourself on LinkedIn can determine whether a sale, investment, or job application will happen.

Visible

When using LinkedIn, one can choose to scroll through the timeline passively or actively use LinkedIn by writing personal posts, blog articles, newsletters, comments, and networking with people via message.

It’s up to you whether you actively use LinkedIn and stay in the minds of potential clients, business partners, investors, and job applicants.

The question is, do you post daily, weekly, monthly or not at all?

If you are daily active and remind clients and investors daily that you are sharp as a tack and an expert in your field, you will be the first person they think of when they are looking for a solution to their problem, need advice, or might want to invest in your company.

By being present, i.e., sharing valuable content daily, you will become known in the long run. By having your direct contacts and subscribers interact with your content, your content will also show up on the timeline of your contacts’ contacts.

In a way, with good content, you trigger a snowball that grows bigger and bigger with each passing day.

Imagine a well-known influencer in your niche likes your LinkedIn post and possibly leaves an encouraging comment. Now all of this influencer’s contacts and followers will see that he likes your post!

Thus, the post is not only visible to your network, but also to all relevant contacts of our contacts, who consequently become attentive to us.

Well-Known

With 810 million users, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to become famous.

In fact, LinkedIn not only allows you to connect with contacts, but also to follow people without adding them to your network as a contact; a similarity to Twitter or Instagram.

By growing your snowball, through interesting and relevant posts and comments, with each passing day, i.e., by gaining new contacts and followers every day, you will one day achieve a certain popularity and audience reach in your specific domain.

Your posts will then be visible not only to your own business contacts, but also to your numerous followers and, in turn, to the followers of our followers under followers (etc.).

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LinkedIn Features

LinkedIn has various functionalities, most of which are free. In addition, there are some paid features, which can offer you as a salesperson particular added value.

Free of charge:

  • Personal profile
  • Company pages / profiles
  • groups
  • Timeline
  • Articles & Newsletter
  • Jobs

Paid:

  • Business (Premium Account)
  • LinkedIn Recruiter
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Advertising (Premium)
  • Talent Solutions (Recruiting)

Personal Profile

You should use both the personal profile and the company profile to inform your contacts and followers about news; this can be posts, infographics, short videos and much more.

You can also use your personal LinkedIn account to actively connect and engage with decision makers by sending them targeted contact requests with personalized messages or by following them. Likewise, you can get their attention not only through personalized messages, but also through targeted and high-quality comments.

Your high-quality comments will not only get the attention of these key decision makers themselves, but also their reading network.

Company page

Your company page can share employee content as well as company-specific news such as:

  • Press releases
  • Links to blog posts
  • Videos and animations
  • Company updates
  • Customer success stories / case studies
  • Job postings
  • Etc.

Besides your customers, especially potential job candidates and investors will follow your company page, so you should always keep it up-to-date and professional. What impression does it make if your last shared post is more than 9 months old?

Groups

An often unused and unknown LinkedIn feature is groups. There are special groups for almost all industries and niches, where you can interact with members or share your posts and news.

You should not miss this opportunity and join all relevant groups and share your relevant content in them, comment on group posts with quality comments, find new leads and send a free LinkedIn message to exciting group members.

Timeline

On the LinkedIn Timeline, you can either spend several hours each day, or you can schedule half an hour each day to leave particularly high-quality comments under exciting and relevant posts. Hardly anyone really engages with the posts that are shared on social media, and even fewer make the effort to write and leave particularly high-quality and relevant comments.

Under a post with numerous worthless comments like “Great!” or “Interesting post”, you stand out from the crowd with a long and relevant comment. Not only will the author of the post notice you, but so will all the other readers of the post.
You are present and perceived as a lightning smart expert.

Articles & Newsletters

LinkedIn not only allows you to share short posts, but also long articles as well as newsletters. So if you write blog posts for your blog, you can cross-post it on LinkedIn as well.

If you write a newsletter, you can post it on LinkedIn in parallel. The advantage with LinkedIn newsletters? Members can sign up for your newsletter with just one click, in less than a second, and receive it in their email inbox as well.

One tactic is to publish only a portion, say a snippet, of your article on LinkedIn, with a link to your full original article (e.g., your blog or company blog).

LinkedIn Premium

The various LinkedIn Premium plans all have one thing in common: InMails. Depending on which Premium account you choose, you get a certain amount of InMail credit, which you can use to write a personal message to just about ANY person on LinkedIn.

You need one InMail credit for one InMail message. If the recipient of your message replies or explicitly rejects your message, you will get the credit back, so you can use it for a new message. If your recipient ignores your message, the credit is used up.

The advantage of LinkedIn InMail is that the message not only ends up in the LinkedIn inbox, but also in the person’s personal email inbox!

An InMail also lands in the person’s email inbox, so they can read your message without having to open LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Premium, especially Sales Navigator and Recruiter Lite, also offer extensive filtering options, with which you can find the right leads, decision-makers, job candidates, investors, etc., collect them in lists and write to them with message templates.

All in all, LinkedIn is, in my opinion, the absolute best way to get in touch with decision makers all over the world.

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Action Steps

Step #1: Add and Follow

Since, as mentioned earlier, the majority of all your potential clients, investors, and even applicants are on LinkedIn. You should in the first step:

  • Find all existing customers, contacts, and partners on LinkedIn and add them as a contact.
  • Locate and follow key influencers including influential CEOs, researchers, etc. on LinkedIn
  • Follow potential customers (e.g., CEOs, CTOs of large companies) on LinkedIn or add as a contact with a personal message.

Many current and former contacts will accept the request, as will the majority of decision makers who have been added with a relevant, authentic and personal message. Here it is worthwhile, especially with the relevant contacts with whom one has not been in contact for a long time, as with relevant decision makers and influencers, to start a conversation with a personal message after they have confirmed the contact request.

Step #2: Post and share.

Now you’re connected to a variety of contacts on LinkedIn. To stay in their minds, i.e., on their timelines, you need to post and share high-quality and interesting posts regularly.
For this, you can use the aforementioned Pillar Content strategy or start with personal updates, articles and short videos.

Your goal is to be present. That is, all your contacts and subscribers should see you as soon as they open the LinkedIn app or sign into LinkedIn.

What could you share on your LinkedIn profile? For example:

  • All posts, which are posted on the company page, can be shared with a personal comment
  • Interesting articles or industry news can be shared with a personal comment
  • Personal updates and achievements as a post, video, or image
  • Thoughts and ideas on current happenings in the industry.

In addition, you can post your blog articles and newsletters about this on LinkedIn.

A first step could be to publish a new blog post every week or an older blog post, which is already published on your blog, on LinkedIn.

Or you could develop a monthly newsletter with exciting information about the industry and important trends in the industry.

Step #3: Comment and Like

Now that you’re following relevant influencers and have networked with your contacts, make it a habit to comment daily on interesting new posts from your network with thoughtful and insightful comments.

By leaving a quality comment under a relevant post, you are almost one hundred percent likely to catch the eye of the readers, followers, and contacts of that post, who in turn will look around your profile and familiarize themselves with your other posts.

To summarize, for example:

  • Comment on and like interesting posts of the network daily
  • Actively participate in discussions under certain posts or relevant hashtags

Step #4: Establish Contact

You can gain exposure through targeted content, in addition to actively engaging with all new contacts and followers.

On LinkedIn, you now can write a free message to your contacts as well as members of a shared group.

In addition, you can add specific people as a contact and add a short, relevant message to this contact request.

As a premium customer, you can also send InMails (premium messages) to almost anyone on LinkedIn.

This is how you can build contacts, for example:

  • Proactively search for and write to contacts in your industry.
  • Proactively contact people who post meaningful posts or post insightful comments
  • Proactively add contacts in the industry as a contact and suggest a collaboration
  • Proactively contact potential employees (recruiting) who post meaningful comments or posts, for example.

Twitter

What makes Twitter unique for me is that a significant number of the world’s most important decision makers are active on Twitter, be they researchers, entrepreneurs, or politicians.

Similar to LinkedIn, here, through targeted and active engagement with certain people’s posts, you can gain the attention of a very specific audience.

Say, on Twitter, you can approach a similar strategy as on LinkedIn: reply to every tweet of the person whose attention you want to gain with a well-thought-out and high-quality response. That way, you’re bound to get their attention.

Generally, you distribute content from your Pillar strategy specifically on Twitter. Likewise, all the posts you share on LinkedIn can also be shared in a shortened form on Twitter.

Twitter is also a great tool to build a follower base of decision makers in a very specific niche, which is why I recommend using it in sync with LinkedIn.

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