Business Development Strategies: Creating your own online brand

Devon-McDonald by

Social media makes it easy for everyone and anyone to showcase their own online brand — whether for personal or professional purposes. Think about it, someone on Facebook posts a picture of you shoveling a piece of pie at Grandma’s house, and what do you do? You immediately untag yourself. You are maintaining control of your brand. You don’t want your followers to see the extra 10lbs of weight you gained over the holidays — so poof, the picture is deleted from your wall so your loyal followers are unable to see your newly formed muffintop. Instead, you post a new profile picture of you on the beach last summer looking extra toned (10 lbs lighter). Whether you like it or not, you are branding yourself to maintain a certain image/personality to your online community.

Or how about this.. you are about to take off on a business trip. You create a Facebook status update that reads: “Heading to the airport… another trip to San Francisco to close some deals — Show me the money!” Again, you are creating your own brand. You are: energetic, worldly, and successful.

Why did you write that? Who do you want to see your brand? What was the underlying purpose of that update? Think about it, and not to sound creepy, but you are in many ways actually selling your personal brand.

You are probably wondering, where is Devon going with this…?
So lets think about this, less on a personal front, and more on a professional level. Sales people at expansion stage businesses have an amazing opportunity to build their brands on the internet, and this can be a very valuable exercise for the up and coming sales superstar who is trying to make a name in his/her space (I say sales at expansion stage because that is the focus of the BizDev blog, but it really could be anyone, at any stage business, within any industry).

Here’s the goal: When you are branding yourself, prove you are an expert in what you do. It doesn’t matter what your field/industry — be focused, be thoughtful, be passionate… and have some fun with it. This will give you a true competitive advantage over your industry rivals.
The best ways to create your professional brand online are by utilizing:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Your own industry specific blog
  • Commenting on industry articles, blogs
  • Facebook (set restrictions on the visibility of your account)

With the content you post on these sites/networks (whether it is your own or shared from another sources), the key is to be yourself (again have some fun and show some personality), but you also want to get your industry knowledge/professional message across to build your brand. There needs to be a fine balance between personal and professional content, and you need to know your social sites and the unspoken rules for each of them. If I were to break it down to percentages, here are my recommendations for professional vs. personal branding on your online community spaces:

  • LinkedIn: 100% professional
  • Twitter: 80% professional, 20% personal
  • Your own blog: 80% professional, 20% personal
  • Commenting on people’s blog posts/articles: 90% professional, 10% personal (depending on how much you know the person who is commenting or to whom you are replying)
  • Facebook: 50% professional/50% personal (keep it clean, regardless)

Think about the personality of your professional online brand. If you were to ask three of your closest friends “How would you describe me in three words?”… What would they say? Better yet… is there a customer with whom you have grown close, and you feel comfortable speaking candidly with them? Ask them what, as a salesperson, made them feel comfortable to move forward on the deal with you. Take these attributes and make your branding sites scream these characteristics. Your brand will need personality to be successful. Express yourself.

Good luck with your online brand building! How will you know when you are successful with your branding activities? — you speak with a target customer in your space and they say, “Oh ya! I know who you are… I’m following you on twitter!”