Companies often feel threatened by their Associates having a professional presence in social media. Unlike many who worry that having a team member with strong brand will lead to them being recruited away, we encourage it.
After all, team members with strong brands bring credibility to our organization. If you have the talent, flaunt it and use it to strengthen the company’s brand. And if someone is going to steal a team member away, they are going to do it anyway. So take it as a compliment.
Instead of treating associates who build their own, personal brands as either competition or hungry ladder climbers, companies should welcome this initiative as a vital part of doing business in today’s social economy.
How can an associate’s personal brand affect my company?
How can an employee’s personal brand affect my company?
In the newsroom
Take a major newspaper like Washington Post or New York Times, for example. These news organizations employ reporters who have significant web footprints consisting of past articles written throughout their career, a collection of published longform work (books, essays, and novellas), and distinct Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and other social media channels.
Now you can argue that by their very nature, newspapers and media organizations thrive off celebrity journalists with heavily established digital presences. However, the fact is that they are made stronger and more attractive by building up a stable of talent, whose individual brands only serve to strengthen and further enhance the brand of their parent organization.
Personal branding is not just for the media
The same applies to you and your company: it’s really important that your associates have a unique, identifiable, and best of all, publicly accessible brand–both for their sake and yours. At my company Pacesetter, I encourage my associates to develop their own identity within the company and as an individual. The most important way I feel this is possible is by setting an example. My own blogging on topics both professional and personal is just one way I try to show my associates the benefits of self-branding.
People do businesses with other people, not companies
This is a fundamental truth of our new economy. With trust in institutions, governments, and companies at an all-time low, it’s clear that people prefer to do business with other people, not faceless, anonymous corporations–particularly those with inexplicably awful salespeople and customer service. When associates have a well-rounded online presence, their clients can feel a more intimate connection, fostering closer business relationships.
It’s easy to see who has (and does not have) the proper experience
In the internet age, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, one of our first reflexes is to Google our clients, associates, and coworkers; why wouldn’t potential clients do a quick search of the credentials of those helping them?
Salespeople will agree that credibility is a huge part of winning a client’s trust. Towards that end, demonstrating knowledge of content and a superior grasp of your target market will go a long way.
Use social media to craft a strong, intelligent voice
Further, in today’s digital age, strong personal brands promote engagement and authentic relationships. While it may seem counterintuitive, if used properly, social media can convey a distinct, unique personality that can further establish your sales presence, boost your credentials, and best of all, generate leads.
Use your personal brand to research the market
Last, personal brands can help sales associates understand their target market. Because so much of social media and online branding is a two-way street, it’s easy to identify and enlist the help of key influencers to not only strengthen your brand but also understand the best business approach.
After all, as Penny Baldwin, the CMO of McAfee, has said, “80% of the Internet’s impressions are driven by 6% of its users.”
Ultimately, personal branding is an inescapable part of the our brave new internet economy. But this shouldn’t be a frightening, negative development. Rather than fearing that renegade sales associates will derail companies with their unconventional online presence, employers should encourage their team to craft an imaginative, standout personal brand.