‘What do people find when they Google you’? It’s a question which more businesses leaders should be asking because the answer can have a big impact on your reputation. Like it or not, we now live in a world where clients, customers and potential leads research us online. In doing so, they expect to see a strong ‘digital footprint’ so they can find out more about the people they are intending to do business with.
Improving your Digital Footprint
Without doubt one of the most effective opportunities to create an online profile is through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s popular business social media network. By developing a Linkedin profile you create an authoritative resource on your experience and capabilities that lets people find you when they search the internet, and as a result you’ll have more control over when happens when people search on Google for your name. However you need to make sure that you spend time to complete your profile and that definitely includes having a strong profile photo and core information about you as a professional and your career achievements.
You can improve your online footprint in other ways too. One of the results of using social media sites such as Twitter and Google+ is that they will appear highly in search engine results when people search your name. Done correctly, this allows business leaders to sculpt the Google search results listings for their own name and thereby create an impressive professional brand online. The benefits of promoting yourself effectively online can be very real especially if you want to attract new clients. I know of several local business contacts who have been approached for work since the start of the year as the result of having a good Linkedin profile.
However, it is not enough to just have social media profiles, you need to be active and engage with people on the sites. Social networking still shares a lot of similarity with face to face networking. Success in networking requires going beyond merely turning up at the event and chatting to people, you need to join in conversations and be helpful, interesting and engaging. Modern business leaders also need to engage with their peers online. It’s still surprising how many business figures in Northern Ireland talk about the importance of business development, client relationships, reputation and networking, but don’t yet use social media.
Engaging on Social Networks
While there are scores of business professionals from top CEOs such as Richard Branson and local entrepreneurs who use social media as an integral part of their professional brand, most business leaders still shy away from using it effectively.
But it’s by being active on social networks and taking the time to engage with others that you can really improve your influence online. According to the latest OFCOM figures, over 53% of people in Northern Ireland use social media. In addition, there are now a very sizable amount of decision makers across all areas of business and government who use social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you want to improve your visibility and influence, go beyond attending conferences and networking events and complete the circle by using use social media to identify and engage with people online.
One of the most effective ways of promoting yourself as a business professional is via good quality content. Brands and professionals who are successful at modern marketing are adept at creating content that audiences find either interesting, fun or useful. Business leaders can use different types of content from ‘how to’ videos, online guides and social media posts to educate, inform or entertain online. My advice is for business leaders to rely a lot less on old traditional brochures and develop content that is interactive and has value for their audiences. For instance if you are an accountant you could use digital media including your web presence and social media sites in particular to talk about areas and issues linked to your business.
While there is no doubt that successful modern marketing requires a very different outlook and a strong level of commitment, there are significant benefits to being visible, transparent and engaging online.