IN THE SPOTLIGHT
How to Build Your Personal Brand Through Social Selling
By Joe Escobedo, Social Selling and Personal Branding Advisor
In my recent Forbes article with a former CMO, he said that successful CMOs require “influencing ability.”
One such way to influence people online is through social selling. I personally have benefited from social selling, receiving business and speaking opportunities from people who found me on LinkedIn.
But this story isn’t about me. It’s about one of LinkedIn’s PowerProfiles in Singapore. Nicholas Kontopoulos is the Vice President of Fast Growth Markets Marketing at SAP Hybris. He also boasts nearly 10,000 followers on LinkedIn.
In this piece, Kontopoulos addresses issues like how CMOs can:
- Start social selling
- Improve their social selling skills
- Use the best social selling tools
Keep reading to find out these answers and Kontopoulos’ top three social selling tips.
Emphasize Social Rather Than Selling
“As soon as I got recognized as the Most Engaged Marketer on LinkedIn, people asked me: ‘How did you do it?’ I found it interesting because my objective was never to be acknowledged as a social seller. It was about the genuine interest in creating and sharing content to expand the public body of knowledge,” Kontopoulos says.
He explains, “The primary objective for anyone should not be sales. It seems counterintuitive, especially when the most common occupation on LinkedIn in Asia-Pacific is salesperson. You should instead be engaging a specific group because you have a genuine interest in helping them learn about a given topic.” (Kontopoulos is a member of 50 groups, ranging from marketing to customer experience and B2B sales.)
Social selling only works if you focus on the "social" part—relationships, peer-to-peer conversations, exchanging views, information and expertise—expressing a genuine concern to help and fulfill a need.
Kontopoulos sums up social selling as “acting like a decent human talking to another decent human.”
Be a Value Creator
“When it comes to content, quality always precedes quantity,” Kontopoulos says. “Never create content just for the sake of it. While I have only published seven articles on LinkedIn since 2014, each took me days to write.” (His last seven LinkedIn articles average around 1,363 views, 94 likes and 12 comments.)
Kontopoulos says most of his LinkedIn blogs were originally posted on third-party sites, like Forbes.com. The LinkedIn blogging tool enables you to repost content several weeks after it goes live, giving you another opportunity to scale the reach of the content.
Another important part is content curation, but again, that should not be done mindlessly.
Content creation and curation require time and care. Kontopoulos says he spends an average of two hours each week doing just that. “I typically do that on Fridays—my blue-sky thinking day. I read Forbes, WIRED and Management Today and bookmark articles as part of my official learning development. I then share content that has benefited me with the rest of my LinkedIn network using Grapevine6,” Kontopoulos says.
Kontopoulos told me how he was invited as a guest speaker at a regional leadership event for a global household brand name after sharing one of his PowerPoint decks on a LinkedIn Slideshare. The talk had nothing to do with his company; it was on customer experience.
This shows that when you create and share content that adds value, your personal brand (and to some extent, your company brand) is built among the right audiences.
Build Your Tribe
LinkedIn has 467 million users globally and 100 million users in Asia-Pacific. This literally translates into millions of opportunities for networking, referrals and more. It also allows you to build a tribe of like-minded professionals that could amplify your point of view.
On LinkedIn, Kontopoulos has nearly 10,000 connections but only around 150 friends on Facebook. “To me, Facebook is about staying connected to family and close friends (and of course, sharing photos of babies, dogs and memes). The point of LinkedIn, however, is to connect with a wider tribe of professionals who share common interests, passions and customer experiences. These are people who help amplify my messages because the content I create and share is helping them professionally,” Kontopoulos says.
According to Kontopoulos, one of the most neglected platforms is LinkedIn Groups. “There are more than 2 million groups around nearly every topic, and what I love most about groups is the wealth of knowledge and connections waiting to be tapped into,” he says. (Kontopoulos recommends The Marketing Edge, Digital Marketing and ADMA.) When you are genuine about building a rapport with those in the group, opportunities will flow through with time.
The more valuable connections you make, the better chance you’ll have at generating revenue for your business. Kontopoulos says, though, that he only accepts connections or sends invites to connect with people who have some common ground, whether it is shared connections or members of the same LinkedIn Group who like or share one another’s content.
Most importantly, follow up and engage with your connections to keep yourself top of mind, and stay up to date with any changes in their employment or business needs.
In other words, the more you give, the more you will receive.