Building a personal brand is now non-negotiable for any sales rep out there. What’s the first thing a new contact does? Check your LinkedIn.
This means you need to make sure your reputation online is stronger than that of your rival sales reps. Remember, building your personal brand is not about selling – it’s about connecting and developing relationships.
By doing this consistently, over a significant period of time, you’ll position yourself as an authoritative and recognizable figure within your industry.
Your cold outreach campaign for personal brand building can take the form of weekly or monthly newsletters, or email content that is personalized to segments of your email list. Another option is using LinkedIn’s instant messaging function.
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Cold outreach is a chance for you to show off your expertise, really get to know key players in your industry, and position yourself as an industry guru that everyone should want to work with.
Here’s how to do it well.
1. Know Your Target Audience
Your audience is at the heart of developing your personal brand.
Yet your audience online isn’t only going to consist of potential leads or clients for your business – this is all about building authority.
For example, if you only work with blue-chip businesses, you’re not necessarily going to be creating every single piece of content with their CEOs in mind.
Yet if you can build a large enough following of industry professionals and freelancers online, and inform, educate, and entertain them, your personal brand as an industry authority will be solidified. In turn, those blue chips will be more likely to work with you.
However, you need to make sure that your outreach is genuine. In order to achieve this, consider what type of person would genuinely benefit from your expertise.
When you hit on the right niche, your follower count will begin to grow and you’ll be on the path to becoming an industry influencer.
Of course, you’ll want to create content targeted at your ideal customer profile (ICP) too. Build your ICP by identifying the demographic information of your ideal customer, such as their geography, job title, or company size.
This will then enable you to target your ICP both directly, by creating content personalized to them, and indirectly, by building your overall brand.
2. Provide Value To Them
Every salesperson knows that the days of the hard sell are largely over, particularly when you’re representing a big-ticket product or service.
Instead, sales reps need to take a more consultative approach. At the heart of this approach is showing added value right from the get-go. Every lead wants to know that – if they go with you – they’ll receive the most value for their money.
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In addition, attempting to solve their problems or address their pain points before they’ve signed on the dotted line shows that you genuinely care about their business and want to work towards its success.
But you also need to make sure you can demonstrate this value without losing money in the long run. Here are some of the best ways to achieve this:
- Give them a free tip related to their industry or business
- Send them a free blog, how-to, or an educational video to address what you perceive to be one of their pain points
- Offer a free cheat sheet, template, or personalized demo
The most important thing to remember is that whatever you send them must be genuinely useful and high quality.
What’s more: don’t ask them for anything in return. This risks countering the goodwill you’ve generated by being helpful.
3. Share Your Expertise
What is your personal brand?
Is it your job title or the company you work for?
Is it the social posts you write, the graphics you share, the jokes you make on LinkedIn?
Not exactly. Those are simply the tools you use to shape your personal brand.
Your personal brand lies in the perception of your audience. It’s all about reputation: what people are saying about you, how they’re engaging with you, and what they’re feeling towards you.
There’s no better way to boost your reputation, grow your reach, and demonstrate your authority and trustworthiness than by leaning on your expertise. For your personal brand to hit the level you want it to, you’re going to have to put in the legwork.
Read the industry articles, listen to the podcasts, watch the webinars, and draw your own unique insights from the information you glean. Sharing these hot takes will make you instantly recognizable in your field.
Remember to avoid repeating other peoples’ opinions. But by all means, respond to their opinions and join the conversation – this is an effective way to grow your reach. But you won’t get far by simply regurgitating the insights of those who have actually put in the work.
4. Mix Up Your Email Content
You’re aiming to be an expert. Therefore, you don’t want to simply focus on one type of media in your cold emails.
Consider Hugh Grant. When starting out as an actor, he no doubt dreamed of a diverse acting career that would allow him to hone his craft in a variety of roles. Yet, he inevitably got typecast in the roles of charming love interest or funny British guy. Now, he’s less known as a brilliant actor and more as “that guy from those sappy rom coms.”
This is exactly what professionals trying to build their personal brand need to avoid: typecasting.
So mix up your cold outreach. Don’t just send blogs or infographics, or only offer podcasts. You don’t want to be known as “the guy who does the podcast” – you want to be known as a well-rounded industry expert.
Building this reputation involves sharing plenty of different forms of content. Use blog posts, interviews, tutorials, quizzes, infographics, ebooks, case studies, and more. In addition to assisting with your brand building, this will also keep your content fresh for your audience.
By repurposing blogs as infographics or ebooks as podcasts, you can also get more bang for your buck when it comes to content creation.
A superb way to integrate any content you’d like to share in your outreach is by using an email signature. It’s really easy to add a link to your podcast to the signature instead of trying to incorporate it into your email body somehow.
5. Establish a Routine
One of the most difficult aspects of using cold outreach for personal brand building is simply being consistent. You can have the best outreach plan in the world, but if you’re not carrying it out properly, you’re just not going to see the results you want and need.
For instance, if you say your email newsletter is going to be delivered every Wednesday, failing to stick to this commitment will make your audience lose trust in you. In short, you’ll struggle to build a loyal following.
So be realistic about the amount of time you can dedicate to this. You don’t have to do a weekly newsletter – a monthly one would be less time consuming and would allow you to feature stronger content.
David Campbell, Marketing Strategist at Right Inbox recommends choosing an hour and a day you will send out your newsletter and then stick to it. Have a schedule in place to make sure you’re working on the contents of the next email as soon as you send one out.
Is Cold Outreach Worth It?
Cold outreach can, at times, seem like a lot of effort. But it’s something you absolutely need to work on for sales success.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools that can help you speed up your cold outreach efforts.
You can automate your email sending as well as many elements of personalization. This gives you plenty of time back, while also boosting the scale of your efforts.
Remember: when it comes to building your personal brand – the reputation that will follow you from company to company throughout your career – no level of effort could be too much.
Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures & co-founder Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.