Once reserved exclusively for celebrities, star athletes, and other famous people, these days it seems everyone has a brand. Now, more than ever, with so much of our lives taking place in a virtual environment, it is vital for salespeople to establish themselves as serious professionals with the knowledge, expertise, and experience to provide solutions that help clients build their businesses. A personal brand defines and differentiates you. It is something others will see, judge, and remember throughout your professional life. Some things to consider are authenticity, presence, alignment, and consistency. You must first define your personal brand in accordance with the values you represent, understand why it is important, develop your brand, and actualize or put it to use. Once you do these things, it’s essential your brand becomes something you nurture and work at daily. Here are a few things to help you get started building your virtual personal brand:
We’ve all heard the adage, “Fake it until you make it.” In life and in sales, this is a terrible strategy. For one thing, you will constantly be on guard against any slip that reveals the truth, and your entire image will crash like the proverbial house of cards. In building a virtual personal brand, strive for authenticity. True, the image you present should be thought out and polished, but it should come out of who you are, what you believe, and the value you provide others. Before you start, think of a list of words others might use to describe you when you are not in the room. Be honest. This can provide insight into how you come across, which might be different from how you see yourself or even the words you would choose. Would others say you are persistent, honest, that you have integrity? These can be the ideas you want to shine through every aspect of your virtual personal brand. Find your voice. Whether it’s funny, serious, or even slightly sarcastic, it must be true to who you are and be consistent.
Choose a picture that shows who you are. Think about your clothes. Are you a natural suit person or are you at your best in business casual? The pictures you choose to share should reflect your best true self. Not everyone looks comfortable buttoned up in expensive, fancy clothes. If that’s who you are, go for it. However, carefully rolled sleeves can convey the hands-on mentality of someone who doesn’t shy away from doing what’s needed to get the job done. Present yourself as someone others trust and want to work with. Consider an array of pictures you can use throughout your personal branding materials: standing next to a bookcase, typing at your desk, talking on your phone. The goal is to appeal to the widest group of people who connect with you and value your personal brand.
Presence is a big part of building your virtual personal brand. Where you are determines who will see you, so cast a wide net. Consider your own website or blog where you can articulate your vision of yourself and highlight your areas of expertise. Think about social media. While you don’t need to be present on every platform, you want to be visible on the main ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Choose the ones you are most comfortable using. For everything you post, ask how it aligns with your key values and your brand. If you don’t know, reconsider your post. Others will see your posts and form judgments. Share content that shows you are an authority. If something happens in the business world, link to an article and tell how it affects your industry. Join groups that reflect your interests. If one does not exist, start your own. The most important thing is to be active and visible to establish yourself as someone others respect and admire enough to seek out.
The stories you share are essential. Everything from the About page of a website to blogs and even personal communication are chances to show not only who you are but how you got here. This is a great opportunity to connect with others. Think about mentors and the people who shaped you and your philosophy. If these are professionals in industry, tell how you met and what they taught you. Share your previous experience. In stories, even mistakes can be endearing. After all, none of us are perfect, and missteps are an essential part of your experience. Discuss what you learned from each to become the person you are now. In telling about your personal success, keep the focus on what you achieved for others rather than what you did. Whereas a resume is the place to show your accomplishments, think of your personal brand as a showcase for the positive effects these had on others.
Testimonials and recommendations are important. Nothing sells you like praise from others who have benefited from your expertise. If a client sends you a personal note, ask if they would mind if you share it with others. Don’t be shy about including these on your website or adding links in social media to articles, reviews, or websites that mention you or your company in a positive way. Also, pay attention to online sites like Yelp and countless others where people post reviews, especially if you sell directly to the consumer. Be aware of what’s being said, from the positive to the negative, and take action if needed. If you encounter negative customer feedback online, use it as an opportunity to react in a professional manner to not only resolve the dispute, but also to establish yourself as someone who wants to do right by their customers.
While there are countless articles, blogs, and even books devoted to the subject, we hope this helps you get started building a virtual personal brand. The keys are being authentic, identifying and articulating what you believe and are best at, making sure your public persona aligns with a positive vision of yourself, and being consistent in messaging across all platforms. Once you do these things, others will notice, but it’s essential that you work at building your brand every day. The more things you accomplish and share, the more people will think of you as someone they trust and want to work with, which could lead to more business opportunities and chances to continually expand and build your virtual personal brand.