by Tony Vidler
Promoting our personal professional brand is essentially all about creating top-of-mind-awareness. Being the person that our target market thinks of, and then calls, when they recognise a need or desire is our goal. We want to be “top of mind”.
To achieve that we must master the art of being present, but without becoming a nuisance.
It is a delicate balance to get right, and what is “right” isn’t just a question of frequency, although that is an important element of course. Nearly every time professionals start down the path of trying to create an engagement process for their target market they spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to figure out how often they should send newsletters, or post updates on linkedin, or tweet, and so forth. While it is important to get the balance right in terms of how often one communicates, the bigger and more important issue is how you are perceived when you communicate.
The one surefire way to alienate prospects and clients is to be continually selling, right? Everyone – including we ourselvess – gets peeved when faced with a constant stream of sales pitches. Even if the promotional material is wrapped up as being “informative”, or is reasonably gentle and low key, the reality is people just opt out or switch off if they perceive that they are receiving a constant stream of sales pitches.
The art of being present consists mostly of getting the style of engagement right, more than the frequency. Getting the style of communication right isn’t about making one good decision.
To create the right presence one has to get the style right on every single different channel that you are using to reach your audience, and the style should vary depending on the channel.
Staying in touch and maintaining that top-of-mind-awareness is best achieved with a mix of overt and more subtle communications, meaning we use a variety of social media platforms and communications tools. The overt strategies are the branded and direct communications such as emails, ezines or newsletters, and whitepapers for instance. The over-arching emphasis of these should be to discuss strategies, concepts, and issues in an informative and educational manner. This type of communication helps position you professionally, and ideally will reinforce your value proposition and expertise.
This helps your target market learn and recognise when they do have an issue or question that you should be helping with.
The subtle ways of maintaining top-of-mind-awareness are engaging in the small acts which remind the market of your presence, but without being intrusive. It is about being just on the periphery….not pushing into their lives, but just hovering around on the edges….waiting patiently. They know you are there, but you aren’t annoying them: that is the goal.
Using LinkedIn for instance to share useful stories and updates that are not your writing. Adjusting your LinkedIn profile just a little, and allowing Linkedin to “notify your network”. Commenting (positively!) on other people’s updates, stories and groups. Endorsing people and providing recommendations….simply thanking people for connecting or sharing your updates. Simple engagement tactics such as these help maintain a presence without running the risk of being seen as a nuisance or overtly trying to sell all the time.
In a similar vein when using other social media channels that are less business-focussed, such as Facebook, we need to be present and open and allow our network to engage as and when they choose to. The thing we have to constantly remember with many of the other social media channels is that while our purpose is to use them for business, as we are aiming to connect and create a presence with prospective customers, that was not what the prospective customers joined them for. They are there to be entertained, or to engage with their friends, or perhaps see the social media channel as a news source….
We have to be alert to what our target market are using the different mediums for, and then pitch our messages accordingly. In a B2B network such as Linkedin, or when people subscribe to our business blog or newsletters, then there is an expectation that we shall be focussed on business. Not selling all the time, but being professional and businesslike and staying on point.
However, when using the more social of the social media channels, many professionals just need to chill out a bit. If it is a channel that most of the audience are there to have a bit of fun interaction with, then we need to be prepared to have a bit of fun too. If it is one where they just want to be entertained, then be entertaining.
The art of being present, but without being a nuisance, lies in thinking carefully about the right style and tone for different communications channels and then tailoring content that fits for each. Creating top-of-mind-awareness is not just about being known for a particular skill set or area of expertise, it is about being remembered positively too.