Online visibility helps build your personal brand as a seller, and your company brand as a trustworthy and helpful organization. Building a positive brand in the B2B world is the first step toward the idea of a virtual pipeline where content and ideas convert into prospects and ultimately, clients.
Over a number of years, I have worked to build a brand online and I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned. My brand is not huge by a number of measurements, but it has grown so much from when I first started online. These lessons are more for those who may be frustrated with a smaller online presence and not sure if it is worth the time and effort it takes to gain visibility and what the pros and cons of doing it are.
I started blogging with a Typepad account in October of 2003. My blog was originally called Salesprocessdiva and I created several hundred posts on it. When I began, I did not have any idea as to what I was doing. Many posts were bad or poorly written - or both.
It is definitely good to know what your goals are before you set out to create a body of content. Know the why of your online presence.
Tip: don’t put “diva” in the name of your blog (not that YOU would). I corrected that misstep.
LinkedIn was new in 2003 and I put my profile on LinkedIn in October. I am member 29,426 out of 270+ million members. Slowly but surely, I made connections with business professionals and created a lot of content. In building up your presence, it takes time every week to do it, even if you have a busy work schedule. Be patient and understand it takes time and effort to grow visibility. Be like the tortoise and just keep moving forward, doing something every day, or if time does not allow, every other day. Keep at it and develop a regular process.
Over the years I have done hundreds of interviews, panels, and for a while I wrote guest posts and freely shared my time and content. I still collaborate with colleagues and online events that are a win/win for our brand and for others involved.
Some of the things I know now for sure are these:
You can’t be taken seriously until you have been online for a while and have a record of service to others.
Hopefully some of the others you are offering ideas to are your perfect target market – this is one of the best ways to grow your business – by being seen by probable prospective customers and piquing their curiosity with helpful ideas and strategies.
In a single post you can lose credibility and lose your audience. Be careful about what you choose to discuss online. Our focus is always on our customers, prospective customers, and partners so we keep a business tone. That doesn't mean you can’t show who you are – just work to remember that people need to be interested in what you are writing about. Never forget that.
It is easy to lose readers and followers – they will never return. Find ways to engage.
Many times people will “lurk” and not comment. You won’t know they have been reading your posts until one day – IF they decide to tell you. You can monitor activity but actual readership – knowing who the very person is that is reading your post or seeing your videos can be challenging to understand. Have faith that if you write about the problems your customers have, your readership will grow.
A great way to gain confidence and learn from others is to connect with experts in your field. Don’t be intimidated. It may seem like a one-way relationship to connect to a big name expert, but they are people too, and often appreciate re-tweets, likes, and content sharing. It can even build friendships. That’s how I met best-selling sales author and speaker Jill Konrath – by blogging about her first book, and then reaching out to let her know that I did. Today I consider her an amazing and invaluable friend.
You need to make consistent time to grow your online presence. It can be a wonderful company project or team project within your organization. Create the “why” you are doing it, set some goals, create an editorial calendar, and get going!
If you have a B2B sales team of 10 or more reps and want some guidance on this, drop me a note and I’ll e-mail you our basic overview in growing your online presence.
To see how social has become the new production line in business, and how the cloud and mobile are changing everything, see what Scott Hebner of IBM thinks about it.
Read these 3 other posts:
- Are You Embracing Social Business
- The Big Eight for Social Sellers on LinkedIn
- Three Steps to Grow Your Online Visibility and B2B Brand
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.