December 13, 2022

How to develop your personal brand and start social selling in 4 easy steps

25 min read
Over the last few years, the world has seen digital transformation impacting our lives in ways that once we could only have imagined. From changing our day-to-day at work, to enabling us to offer more value to our clients, the ever-changing landscape of technology and digitalisation means that we can work more efficiently with a larger impact. Social selling and developing a personal brand are key ways in which sales professionals can now influence and interact with clients on a more personal and relevant level.

This week on The Sales Syndicate Podcast, Selligence’s Associate Director of Marketing, Jamie Pagan, spoke with Sean Anderson, Founder of Hoxo Media, to learn about his journey from being a teacher to a recruiter, to founding and running a "personal and company branding firm for recruitment agencies”.

Why is social selling so important?

In short, if you’re not social selling, you’re just setting yourself up for a harder time. According to LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ data, if your business is a social selling leader, you’ll be creating “45% more selling opportunities than peers with lower SSI”. Not only that, but they also go on to state that “Social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach quota” and “78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.”

Anderson breaks this down simply: “Why would you build a brand on LinkedIn as a recruiter in 2022 or as a salesperson? And the answers are really, really simple. You are limited by the time and number of calls you can make... everyone is limited by the same amount of hours, on the same amount of days. What building a brand on a platform like LinkedIn allows you to do is scale.”

Anderson believes there are just four main steps you need to follow to be successfully using LinkedIn for social selling.

1. What does your LinkedIn account look like?

You need to consider that your LinkedIn (or any social networking site profile) can (and will) be treated like your own mini website. It should be clear and informative about who you are and what you do. Everything on that profile can communicate something, from your profile picture to the banner appearing behind your face, the words you use in your headline, and what you say in your bio. It actually goes further than that – consider what your posts, testimonials, recommendations, and experience say about you too.

The aim of optimising your profile is so that anyone who happens to stumble onto your profile can see in five or ten seconds exactly what you do. That initial impression needs to engage them and make them want to read on, to learn more about you and see what you have to say. Your profile needs to compel them to want to hear more from you, to speak to you, and even reach out to you themselves.

Everyone is so busy, we’re all time-poor, so you cannot afford to waste someone’s time once you have that initial few seconds of attention. Clearly state what your niche is, what space you operate in, and what you’re doing to help your target audience. Capitalise on this opportunity right at the very top of your profile, and once you have your reader engaged and reading on, then you can afford to let a bit more personality shine through.

2. Know your audience – who are you connected to?

The next thing to really think about is your audience. Do you know who you’re connected to? Are they the people you want to be looking at your profile? And if they are, are you engaging them properly? What are you doing with your audience? Are you connecting with them, and if so, how often?  

On LinkedIn you can have 30,000 connections – with the potential to connect with a hundred people a week. This is a really great opportunity you could be capitalising on, so make sure you’re connecting! There’s no ‘easy’ answer to this; using automated bots will just get you blocked, but if you’re going out there, looking for people who work in the space you’re interested in, then you can scale your connections quickly. Getting those high-quality, relevant connections is so important, and all it takes is 20 connections a day.

With these connections, even if you only get a 30%, 40% or 50% connection acceptance rate, you’re still growing your network by 30 to 50 targeted professionals. All the time, you’re increasing your potential reach and opening up potential for new business.  Once you’ve connected,  they will be more likely to see your content, or you can send them a direct message to direct them in the right direction. The more you engage with them, the more it will be reciprocated.

3. Have something good to say, routinely

According to Anderson, for best traction “you need to be putting out a minimum of three posts a week”. These have to be useful, engaging posts that will help you start conversations and build relationships. Anderson continued: “if you're in recruitment, all they do is post jobs. I've got a vacancy, I've got a vacancy, I've got a vacancy... that's transactional, it's not relationship building, it's not adding value, it's not communicating in a community.”  

Base your content on what you know, what you’re already talking about with your colleagues, the advice you're sharing and the discussions you're hearing. Post about your area of interest and you’ll start adding credibility to your social selling. You don’t need to be overly creative and come up with a random topic just to get people talking. Stay within your knowledge base and engage with others in your comfort zone. People won’t reach out to you because you wrote a funny, but irrelevant post which scored a few cheap likes – they'll reach out to you because they know you know your stuff.

Coming up with good material doesn’t need to be rocket science either. Anderson often pulls inspiration from his diary, going through his notes on different meetings to see what he found most interesting, what useful information he was able to pass on, or what challenge his contact was facing that he was able to solve. Just identifying a nugget of value and writing it up in a story format will work: “when I do that, people connect with those stories and people learn from those stories, and people learn from me”.  

For a lot of people, creativity doesn’t come easily, and finding something to post about three times a week may feel uncomfortable, but it pays off. You don’t have to like social media, but if you work using LinkedIn, you’re already spending time in that environment, so stop scrolling and start posting. Anderson strongly believes that to ignore the opportunity posting gives you means “you're missing a huge opportunity because everyone wants engagement, everyone wants responses, high response rates... the more people see you and hear from you and like what you're talking about, the more they engage. So, it really is about taking specific scenarios from your real life and sharing it.”

4. Engage with your audience

Making sure you’re engaging with your audience and following up on comments and responses is the fourth step to success. You need to live and breathe these new relationships, every day, so that your audience knows you’re consistent, that you’re reading their comments, and that you care enough to respond. What you get from this is a list of people who are open enough to engage back with you.  

Anderson says: “if you do a post and you get 500 likes, that's 500 people whose name you have access to that all put their hand up to say they like what you've got to say.” All it takes from you is a little bit of time to go through that list and consider if there are any potential contacts there that you don't know, or anyone that you can reach back out to and re-engage in a fresh conversation.

Through daily and quality engagement (not just a thumbs up response to a “great post”) with your ideal audience, you’ll be talking with enough people that you you’ll be able to turn a lot of those conversations and new relationships into business. Anderson views LinkedIn as a daily digital event, he says: “posting is like just standing on stage and speaking, it adds loads of value, loads of weight. People can hear you, but if you turn up, speak and leave without then stopping to speak to people at the end, or even going round to other speakers, I don't believe you're going to get the same amount of value from that day at the event.”

How soon will you see growth?

By following these steps, almost immediately you can expect to see an increase in connections, and an increase in your own output. You need to be seeing an increase in the frequency of your posts, and with that an increase in your own likes, comments, and engagement on other people's posts too. All of this is in your own hands and something you can control.  

Just like going to the gym, while you can see the effort has increased, you don’t see your gym bod appearing after just two weeks. Social selling won’t be an overnight solution for you either. However, after three, four, five months, that’s when you can expect to see some real changes. You may well see some smaller wins coming through in the meantime too, but the longer you maintain your increased posting, the more the results are compounded.

After three months, you’ll start noticing a change, but by six months, you’ll really see things growing. Higher response rates are the end goal, so value each comment or reply you get. These little nuggets are like gold, they’re the ticket to opening up new business opportunities because you’ve already captured their attention.

Key takeaway points

Once you’ve optimised your profile so that it clearly states who you are, what you do, and how you can help people, you need to ensure your audience are people relevant to your work. Grow your network so that you’re adding to your audience daily. The more people who see your posts, the better your chances of engaging them.  

Next, you need to get into the habit of posting. You really need to be aiming for a minimum of three posts a week so that people can see you’re consistent, well informed, interesting, and insightful. A one-off won’t be enough to hold someone’s attention – or enough for them to remember who you are and what you’re selling.

So, spend 15 minutes a day engaging with people. Comment on other people’s posts, ask questions and share your own thoughts. But, most importantly, reply and respond to those commenting on your own posts. By responding, you’re opening dialogue and paving the way for a meaningful conversation. Every time you do this, you’re allowing opportunity for new business to follow.  

Finally, be consistent. If you can keep up your new routine for six months, you’ll see a huge impact. Not only in the number of likes you get on a post, but also in the number of connections you make, the number of conversations you’re having, and the number of deals you’re making. If you can improve your efficiency and get some good, interested contacts coming your way instead of spending all day making cold calls, then you’ll soon be increasing on your current abilities and improving your deal rate.

Watch the full episode

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