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I’ve been on medical leave since November 2016. It’s been an odd sort of break. Prior to my diagnosis I was in software and consulting sales for about thirty years. At this point in my recovery, while I’m physically still several months away from being able to return to work, I am mentally sound. As such I decided to try to develop myself professionally so that I’ll have some new skills to offer when I’m well enough to return to work.
As I am homebound, social media has become my gateway to the world. From all the articles I’ve been reading, Social Business has clearly become critically important to those in the sales profession. It is also clear that many/most companies are still pretty clueless as to how to get their arms around it.
So, I did some research and found a company who specializes in helping companies and individuals become expert in leveraging Social Business to define your brand, raise your visibility, establish credibility, and drive revenue generation through enhanced lead flow. They offer lots of training options, so I took an introductory virtual class, and I must say, I was blown away by the results.
I’ve been using LinkedIn for years and had over five-hundred contacts and felt pretty solid about my skills using it. I was surprised to realize I had just been scratching the surface. My profile got graded using their report card method, and it was pretty mediocre. So I spent a little time polishing it based on their suggestions, adding this, changing that, emphasizing certain things and eliminating others, it was a very effective face lift. When finished, I was looking great! Emphasis is always on being Authentic.
Next, I learned about the idea of creating content. Frankly I thought all the articles, videos and presentations I had been reading for years in LinkedIn came from industry gurus. I looked upon these folks as the best and brightest, dispensing profound truths and projecting their vision forward with absolute certainty. Else, they were the results of teams of marketing types who had based them on studies, exhaustive research, and scientifically based analytics.
Hence, I was shocked to discover that anyone can create content, and frankly some of the best stuff comes from the people who have spent years in the trenches, just like me. In fact, the new challenge for companies is to figure out how best to harness the know-how that resides in the heads of their employees across the organization and make it available to their prospects as a proof of the company’s experience and credibility.
So, I started writing articles and publishing them on LinkedIn, in fact I started sharing them with a company who publishes content for the high-tech industry and they started sharing them with their members globally. I simply drew from my decades of experience in the field helping companies solve business problems using data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics. When you take a few minutes to think about all you have learned over your career it’s remarkable just how much know-how you have accumulated.
The challenge is to simply define a topic for an easily digestible article and start writing. Reread and shape it for a bit and then publish it. It’s not a lot of heavy lifting. It doesn’t take very long. You don’t need anyone’s approval or sign off. You simply need to tell a relevant story that conveys sound advice or insight. The number of people who read them is amazing, with some of them being read by hundreds of people all over the world.
So what was the impact of this course for me? The following results were gained after taking a course which was just a day or so long. After just two months with just a little time spent on my profile and writing a handful of one-page articles.
· Profile Views up 75%!
· Number of Connections up 30%!
Additionally, I have visibility into what companies, geographies, and industries I’m reaching most often. I’m also being increasingly read by executives and senior managers in industries which are important to me.
So what have I accomplished in this easy transformation in just a month or two, spending a half an hour here or there?
· I’m building credibility within my field
· I’m now seen as someone worth following
· My advice and observations are being read by Executive and C-Suite types
· My personal network is growing dramatically
· I’ve developed an appreciation for my own expertise and the value I have to offer
Take the kind of personal impact this introductory course has had on me and multiply it by dozens of people or more by making these practices universal at your company. What impact would a 75% growth in people visiting your website have? What would come of a 30% rise in prospects reaching out to talk with your staff? How many new sales cycles would be initiated by providing the C-Suite with immediately applicable insights? Clearly there is MUCH more this company can teach me and the company I work for. Why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of it all?
I’m convinced that sales and marketing types need to be advocating for their companies to secure training on how to appropriately embrace Social Business. Certainly you have an army of people who can contribute handsomely to content creation which your company can leverage. These are folks who have been successful in their specific roles for years but who have likely never been asked to contribute to building the company’s brand or identity.
Their expertise has likely reached your customers in dribs and drabs through specifically arranged interactions. But today, via Social Business, it needs to be made available generously and widely to every prospect who has a need. They will build credibility, provide value, engender trust, and showcase expertise before any contact with a sales person is ever initiated. Then it will continue to provide useful insights and value as prospects become customers and beyond.
Social Business training for individuals is now a must-have. Additionally, corporations MUST secure the expertise to help them learn how to leverage the silos of experience and build systems and processes to ensure they are visible, credible, and helpful to every prospect now actively researching solutions via social media.
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