Building a personal brand on LinkedIn is a great way to generate B2B leads. At a time when only 30% of consumers have high trust in the companies they buy from, it’s essential to communicate trustworthiness by showing more of your identity.
If you’re only using the platform for cold outreach, personal marketing might not be something you’ve yet considered. Never fear. Our complete guide will walk you through all the steps you need to confidently set yourself up as an industry expert and attract more leads.
Already a LinkedIn expert and just looking to improve your image? Download our guide to optimizing your LinkedIn Profile.
What is a personal brand strategy?
Personal branding is just like company branding, but for you as an individual.
A company’s brand tells you what they care about, what they’re experts in, and how they interact with the world. For example, Nike’s ‘just do it’ and dynamic, dashing ‘tick’ gives you an immediate sense of the brand’s no-nonsense, results-driven approach. One look at their logo, slogan, and website and you know exactly who they are and what they care about.
An effective personal brand does the same. Building a brand on LinkedIn is a way to establish your reputation, grow your authority, and prove your expertise.
Why is personal branding for sales professionals important?
For businesses, the problems they need to solve are mission-critical. The difference between failure and success. They don’t want to trust that success to just any old tool, solution, or sales rep.
But, unfortunately, cold outreach doesn’t give you much opportunity to communicate your value and trustworthiness. When you’re the one reaching out to a busy prospect, they’re on alert and suspicious. They might know little to nothing about you or your product. Your window of opportunity for engaging them is small.
That’s where showing other markers of trust can make all the difference. And if you’re approaching these prospects on LinkedIn, having a solid personal brand can be just the tick in your favor that can turn a ‘no’ into ‘I’m interested, tell me more’.
Building a personal brand on LinkedIn will draw new prospects into your orbit, as well. Over time, prospects in and around your network will come to trust your familiarity and presence. Without you or them realizing, you’ll be well on your way to nurturing them through your lead funnel.
How building your reputation on LinkedIn can help you generate B2B leads
So, now you know why a personal brand is important in general. But how can building a unique identity and reputation help you generate B2B leads on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the best platform to generate B2B leads using social selling because:
1. It’s the home of thought leadership. If you want to position yourself as a market expert, you need to create thought leadership. (And believe us, you DO want to position yourself as a market expert – it’s vital to strategies like the Challenger sale). LinkedIn is where people turn to hear more from industry movers and shakers. So if you want to be one, it’s where your personal branding will get the best results.
2. Prospects develop trust from afar. Posting regular valuable updates to LinkedIn can warm up prospects without any overt outreach. LinkedIn’s algorithms distribute content widely, meaning more people see your updates (often more than once). Since familiarity builds trust, investing in your LinkedIn brand will help you develop a loyal following.
3. Warm outreach converts better than cold outreach. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that rewards those who put in the effort to nurture connections. You’ll have better chances of success if you add warm outreach on the platform to your toolbox. 78% of reps using social selling outperform those who aren’t, and leads that come from the social media activities of employees convert seven times more often than other leads.
4. Your company will love you. Many B2B decision makers now look up sales reps on LinkedIn when deciding which company to work with. If your personal brand is strong, it increases your chances of successfully making a sale. A strong LinkedIn network is key to outreach success, as well: 90% of customers trust recommendations from those they know, but only 33% trust messages from a company. It’s now essential for prospectors to have their own brand for a successful sales strategy.
How to build your personal brand on LinkedIn
So, now you know that it’s important, how exactly do you go about improving your positioning and communication on LinkedIn? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
1. Establish your values, perspective, and niche
You need to know these before anything else. What image do you want to convey? Where do you want to show confidence, aptitude, and expertise? Companies spend time on their brand image strategy, and you should, too.
Avoid falling into the trap of trying to seem too perfect or put together. Some people feel they have to act perfectly in their professional lives to be taken seriously. Actually, when it comes to proving your authenticity and creating trust, honesty will perform better than fake excellence.
Content creators do really well when they point to mistakes they’ve learned from, areas they’ve struggled with and overcome, and pitfalls they’re now experts in avoiding. It’s called “strategic vulnerability”, and is key to creating trust using compelling personal stories.
Pointing to past experiences and what you’ve learned from them shows anyone watching that:
1) You know your stuff, and
2) You have real insights and expertise from walking the walk in your chosen industry.
Here are some strategic decisions to make when deciding on your personal brand:
- How familiar or informal do you want to be? Consider your tone of voice, use of colloquialisms, and whether or not you’ll use explicit language.
- How do you want to present yourself visually? A picture paints a thousand words, and first impressions count. Of course, you want a high-quality professional profile picture and header, but consider the style as well. Do you want it to look candid? Corporate? Approachable?
- How often you’ll post, and what content types you’ll focus on. Try our complete guide to content marketing on LinkedIn for some ideas.
- What topics you’re an expert in or comfortable voicing opinions about. Don’t worry too much if you’re closer to just starting out – taking your network on a journey can work just as well to develop trust and loyalty.
- How much of your personal life do you want to reveal? The right approach will depend on your comfort level. But the occasional insight into your personal world will remind prospects you’re human and increase follower loyalty.
2. Optimize your profile
Now you have a strategy in place, you can start putting it into action. To begin with, start by optimizing your LinkedIn profile. It’s the area of the platform you have the most ownership over, and where prospects or employers will often come to scope you out.
The key areas to get right are:
- Your LinkedIn profile heading
- Your LinkedIn profile summary
- Your choice of profile picture and header
But if you want to take things further, you can:
- Turn on LinkedIn creator mode and add the topics you post about
- Give and get recommendations
- Turn your profile into a lead funnel to attract and capture more leads.
If you need help, check out our downloadable PDF guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
3. Plan for consistency
Now you know exactly who you are and what you want to say. But before you start putting your plan into action by posting thought leadership content, industry tips and tricks, and hosting LinkedIn events, you need to come up with a content plan.
To build a successful personal brand, consistency is key. You won’t attract an audience with sporadic updates, or content of variable quality. If you can plan out a month or so worth of content before you begin, you’ll avoid posting in dribs and drabs. Ultimately, this will help you show your subject expertise by forcing you to plan out properly how you’ll talk about your niche, product, and industry.
As an individual, you should keep it simple. All you need is a spreadsheet or Notion or Trello board where you can jot your ideas, link to drafts, and see how your subjects fit together. Once you start getting these on the page, you’ll soon realize you have lots of insights.
To build your brand quickly, make sure you’re making the most of all the 2023 Linkedin content trends. And if you need further inspiration, check out our complete guide to content marketing on LinkedIn.
Here are some tips for brainstorming unique content:
- Think about all the activities you carried out in your role today. Was there anything new you learned? Anything that used to trip you up at the start of your career, that you can use to frame a compelling story and increase trust?
- Think about the overall arc of your industry. Have you seen any significant changes over the last year or two to the way it operates, that a prospect might benefit from your unique insights about? To make this type of content even more valuable, look at ways to include statistics and actionable advice.
- Draw on your network. You likely meet with hundreds of industry representatives each year in the course of making sales. What insights or trends have these meetings given you? What do customers care about the most, or always get confused by? Voice of the customer insights are gold, and should always inform what you look to post.
- Think about the format. Don’t go for big text updates every time. Polls, carousels, or visuals often get better engagement and can take a fraction of the time. They’re also great ways to repurpose content or insights you’ve shared elsewhere, for example on Twitter or in a pitch deck.
- Look for opportunities to be unique. The best insights are specific and memorable. Think about ways you can spice up your storytelling. Could you get permission from a customer to share a quote about a pain point? Share an industry anecdote you’ve experienced firsthand? Predict when big players in your market need to pivot?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Pick only one or two of the above ideas when you’re getting started. Realistic and consistent is better than one incredible post followed by months of radio silence.
If you want more tips on building authority as a way to influence prospects and increase your number of leads, the challenger sale has some good insights. If you don’t have the time to read up on it for yourself, get the key insights from it and 15 other best sales books in our downloadable ebook.
4. Grow your network
With your profile and posting strategy sorted, it’s time to put your foundations to work by growing your network and creating a community. The best way to do this is by joining relevant Linkedin groups and events and interacting with thought leaders from companies in your target industry.
Here are three ways to grow your network:
- Share content from customer companies and add your own takes and insights. This will strengthen these connections and make them more likely to refer you or your company to other clients.
- Do the same with thought leaders to increase the likelihood your content will get shared with their networks and boost your readership. This will also increase your brand authority.
- As your personal brand evolves, consider running your own events or creating your own LinkedIn groups to level up your social selling.
Of course, you should also continue to grow your network by directly reaching out to leads. With a personal brand, you’ll see higher acceptance and conversion rates.
LinkedIn personal branding tips
Here are the core takeaways to keep in mind when building your LinkedIn persona:
- Don’t be scared to show some personality.
- Vulnerability can make you appear strong.
- Finding ways to differentiate is ideal, but content consistency counts for more in the beginning.
- Start small by building and leveraging genuine connections. These will form the foundations of your growth.
- No matter your experience level, there will be insights and trends you can comment on. The trick is looking at your day-to-day activities for inspiration.
- Storytelling is a real strength. Look to marketing experts to learn how to create hooks that work.
- Remember, your ultimate aim is to make (soft) sales. Be authentic, but always keep your ideal customer in mind.
LinkedIn personal branding examples
Need some examples of LinkedIn thought leaders acing their personal branding? Here are 3 stalwarts of sales knocking it out of the park with their social presence.
Jeb Blount, Professional sales trainer and industry expert
Who he is: Jeb Blount is a professional sales trainer and the author of Fanatical Prospecting, Sales EQ, and Objections: The Ultimate Guide.
Why his personal brand works: Everything is tailored to his target audience. He regularly offers valuable content such as free webinars on sales best practices, and his tone is short, snappy, and informal.
Results: Nearly 70,000 dedicated LinkedIn followers.
Mark Roberge, former CRO at Hubspot
Who he is: Mark Roberge is the former CRO of Hubspot and the author of The Sales Acceleration Formula.
Why his personal brand works: Mark’s audience is C-suite financial experts, and his brand matches his target audience’s professionalism. His header contains social proof for his events. Plus, his featured posts are chock full of industry insights that get specific on financial strategy and give loads of value to his audience.
Results: Over 45,000 LinkedIn followers.
Jill Rowley, B2B SaaS veteran
Who she is: A leader with 22 years of experience in the B2B SaaS industry, including as an early employee at Salesforce.
Why her personal brand works: Jill regularly shares articles with useful breakdowns of industry data. She’s also not afraid to use vulnerability to give her audience more value – her featured articles go deep on why her stint at Oracle failed due to organizational clashes.
Results: A whopping 250,000+ LinkedIn followers.
How to generate B2B leads on LinkedIn
Now that you know what a personal brand is, why it’s important to create one, and the steps to follow, nothing is stopping you from taking your LinkedIn outreach to the next level. To get started, download our guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
For the best results, consider pairing your hardwon influence with a LinkedIn automation tool to streamline your outreach efforts. With the ability to save 4-6 minutes per lead, you can gain time back to focus on your other selling and thought leadership efforts. Speak to our team to learn more.