Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

March 20, 2009

Revamp Your Online Presence – Ramp Up Your Results

Every second ezine and blog I read at the moment is talking about Twitter and Tweeting so I’m not going to bore you with more of the same. Rather, let’s take some time to talk about revamping your online presence on more traditional online business networking sites like, for example, LinkedIn and Ecademy.

 

We’ll look at why you need an online profile (if you haven’t got one yet); how to create a profile that attracts visitors; and discuss some etiquette that needs to be borne in mind.

 

The internet is the place where prospects go to first these days when researching an organisation to do business with. This research extends way beyond looking only at the business website or blog, to Googling the names of the directors or owners while hunting for additional information. It is therefore crucially important for an independent professional to have a strong online presence. There are a number of ways of getting your name out there but the biggest one you can proactively control is your professional profile on business networking sites.

 

Just like with offline networking where you need to be a ‘regular face,’ you cannot join every online networking club or you will never do them justice. Pick one or two and focus on building really powerful profiles and then being regularly visible and active online.

 

Revamp Your Profile

 

I can’t tell you how many profiles I have come across that have little to no information of any value; don’t attract my attention or give me a good reason to connect; and don’t even have a photograph!

 

Of first and foremost importance is putting a professional looking photo up on your profile. If your prospects can’t even put a face to your name how will you build their trust in you? You don’t want them wondering what you are trying to hide. Also, please note that I said a professional looking photo – not candid holiday pics, wedding photos, or an avatar (yes I have seen all of the above on the profiles of supposedly professional executives. I can’t say I was filled with confidence).

 

Secondly, your profile must contain your key marketing message (not your ‘Sales Pitch’). People browsing through your profile aren’t interested in doing business with you yet – they don’t know you or trust you. If you’ve been developing your Verbal Signature,* this is an ideal place to start using the written version.

 

Thirdly, you need to include a sprinkling of appropriately placed links back to your business website and blog and even to third party sites where you have had articles and research papers published. This is a great (and easy) way to improve your SEO or search engine rankings, as well as giving your network ways to find out more information about you. Remember that in terms of the Marketing Relay * once you have a prospect’s attention, the next step is to provide them with more information that builds your credibility.

 

Lastly, and this is closely intertwined with the previous step, is inviting your profile visitors to take the next step in getting to know you, so you need a call-to-action. Asking them to visit your blog and leave comments is a good way, as is requesting them to connect with you or join your network of contacts. You could even suggest they learn more by reading an article you wrote, or visiting your website (hence all those links mentioned above). ‘Call me for a quote’ is not a good call-to-action!

 

Ramp up Your Results

 

Once you’ve got your profile up and running, you obviously need to get out there and proactively expand your network. Of course you can’t do this without having a goal in mind and a clear strategy for achieving it. One idea could be to actively seek out the types of people you would like to connect with (ideally they fall within your target market), but you would also want to see if your clients, suppliers, colleagues (past and present) etc. have profiles and reach out to them too. Please though, bear in mind the same common courtesies that you would in an offline or in-person networking environment.

 

You wouldn’t simply walk up to a group of strangers, interrupt them, and shove your business cards into their hands. That would be rude! Similarly, in the online networking environment you should make a polite approach, take the time to introduce yourself and offer something of value. It’s not ok to just send an ‘add me’ request or click a ‘join my network’ button without including those personal touches.

 

And please don’t fall in to the trap of spamming your contacts either. Some online networking sites allow you to put a tick in a box to ‘re-invite’ someone or ‘remind’ someone on a monthly basis of your outstanding or unanswered request. If the person hasn’t responded to your outreach they have made a choice not to, so don’t harass them!

 

I have lost count of the number of ‘add me’ requests I receive everyday from people who can’t even be bothered to offer me a compelling reason. If you’ve read my ‘Knock Their Socks off Networking’ e-book, or been a Marketing Edge subscriber for some time, you’ll know that I am a strong advocate of the ‘Quality over Quantity’ approach because it works.

 

* Transform Your Networking with a Verbal Signature™ is a 20 minute audio programme and The Marketing Relay is the first of seven principles that govern marketing in a professional services environment. You can download both of these programmes with our compliments (along with many others) in our private subscriber download area at our website. If you’re not yet a subscriber, look at all the free stuff you’re missing.

 

©Vanessa Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2009. Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph: Vanessa Deakin works with Professional Service Executives frustrated and disappointed with their current growth rates, marketing efforts, and business profitability. Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes she helps them to skyrocket their results and break their own best records. To learn more, sign up for her e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit our website at www.zee2a.com.

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