At the breakfast table last week, I sat and smiled, enjoying the excitement in the air as my two young sons discussed the upcoming little-league baseball season. After a break in the conversation, my 7-year-old turned to me and said: “Daddy, you know how when we go to the Giants’ games and the batters walk up to different songs? Do you think they get to pick their songs? I think they do. I think they pick a song that tells us about who they are, since we don’t really know them that well.”
For the balance of our breakfast, we discussed the ways in which song choice could help people get to know you as an individual and concluded that we, too, should have walk-up songs. We agreed that it would be awesome if we could set up our house to play our walk-up music when we each enter a room. My sons quickly agreed that mine should be Darth Vader’s theme song, and have since taken to humming it when I enter a room. While I find their choice—and how quickly they identified and agreed on it—alarming, I have to admit that I enjoy their selection.
These days, with the rise of social selling and the continued evolution of customer engagement and the way in which buying and selling happens, companies and salespeople face a similar challenge to the Major League Baseball batter walking up to the plate. They, too, want to help the masses get to know them, and to establish a personal connection with those who pay the bills. For salespeople, however, the “walk-up” isn’t a song, but the brand and presence that they create, based on how they engage and conduct themselves with their audience.
Just like a batter walking up to dead silence, salespeople who are not diligently managing their brand are missing an opportunity to connect. Here are five tips for making those connections and developing your brand:
- Pick your spot. It’s incredibly difficult to be everything to everyone while being authentic and compelling, and developing a connection with your target audience. Successful salespeople avoid the temptation to spread too thin, and recognize the value of effective targeting. Identify your target audience, understand where they are, and focus your time there.
- Add value. While there is value to curating relevant content for your networks, simply aggregating information isn’t good enough. The value from social connection is realized through a personalization of this content and insight into the brand that you want to represent. Take the opportunity to add your insightful perspective when sharing content online.
- Invite dialogue. Without true engagement, and a social interaction through dialogue, even insightful content sharing is just noise. The potential of online engagement comes from listening and learning, and the joint creation that results from multidirectional discourse. Stop using your networks for self-serving advertising, and engage in a meaningful dialogue.
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- Set a cadence. Striking the right balance and cadence for online engagement is critical for brand presence and impact. Dominating the airwaves can lead to people tuning out, and being inactive or quiet can result in people losing interest. Establish a plan to capture an appropriate share of voice, and build discipline around how you engage.
- Be flexible. Discipline isn’t just about developing a periodic cadence or schedule. Engaging in dialogue and adding value require an ability to adapt and connect with a fluid, constantly changing network in a mutually convenient time and space. Be disciplined in developing your brand and serving your community, not in the execution of your schedule.
Just as MLB players can either select their own walk-up songs, or learn to live with music chosen for them by someone else, salespeople should be diligent about developing their own online brands lest they allow those brands to be governed by others’ perceptions. Perhaps the most critical step is an awareness of your online brand’s importance and a willingness to manage it with some level of intention. Take it from me: If you don’t create your own brand, someone else might, and you may wind up joining me on the dark side.