Every sales professional needs to have an independent online presence.
It’s not enough to depend on your broker, employer or suppliers for your website and social media presence. Having their support is nice, but that support only lasts as long as your tenure does.
In 2014, the average employee stayed 4.6 years. This rise, by the way, includes passing through four recessions from 1983 – 2014. (Forbes – 2016)
The profession with the highest turnover? You guessed it! Sales. (Statista 2018)
Having an independent online presence is like having an insurance policy for the day that you change employers. It is a great way to cement relationships. Relying solely on your employer for your online presence is dangerous. Your professional self vanishes when your employment position changes.
There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the online marketing help provided by your employer, brokerage, and/or major suppliers. It is a great support system, that costs little or nothing, and takes care of most of your marketing needs for you. Of course you should use it, appreciate it, and even depend upon it.
What can you do, that won’t take up too much of your limited time, will provide you with a current marketing edge over your competitors, and importantly, will serve as an online bridge when you switch positions?
Ideas and Recommendations
In order of importance:
- Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is important because it acts simultaneously as your “living” resume, and a home for your professional networking. Your profile should be complete. It should be current. And you should use it to stay on top of industry trends and the business activities of your peers and colleagues. Posting the occasional helpful tip or professional update never hurts. Contributing to a conversation on LinkedIn is even better.
- Have your own website and URL
Ideally, a blog is best, but blogging takes time and commitment. Having a blog, under your own banner, goes a long way towards establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Blogging also helps keep you and your name in front of people on an ongoing basis. If blogging is either too time consuming, or too intimidating, then you should at least have simple business card website, or “microsite“. A microsite ensures that you always have a web presence that follows you even when you change employers or product lines.
- Consider using Twitter or Instagram
Twitter and Instagram are essentially microblogging platforms. Unlike a long-form blog, where articles should be 300 to 1000 words, Twitter tweets are limited to 280 characters (up from 140). Instagram is more visual, and is ideal if you uses images or photographs to highlight your work (for example, real estate shots).
Make sure that you don’t post anything on Facebook that would be a major “turn off” to a potential client or employer. Privacy settings are helpful, but they don’t guarantee that the things you post won’t be seen or shared by people outside your circle of family and friends.
Facebook also offers the opportunity to set up a business or professional “fan” page. My personal recommendation for sales professionals and other self-employed professionals is not to bother with this feature. Facebook professional pages need a commitment of time and promotional money before they become useful. Let your employer look after this for you.