We have Dr Natalia Wiechowski back on the Selling in Asia podcast, this time we’re discussing how to use LinkedIn to build your personal brand and she’s sharing tips from her new book, Personal Branding with LinkedIn: The Think Natalia Method.

In this episode, we cover

  • Why sales reps need to build a personal brand
  • How to start building a personal brand
  • Engagement vs public relations in building credibility
  • How to use your LinkedIn profile to get enquiries from qualified leads
  • How to create content for LinkedIn with any budget
  • And more LinkedIn hacks

What exactly is Personal Branding?

I think one of the best quotes that I found on this topic comes from Jeff Bezos, who supposedly once said that your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. Let’s reflect on that a little bit because when I say it, a lot of people are like, “Yeah!” It hurts because that means that the way how we speak, how we talk, the feelings that we trigger in people, the stuff that we wear. Our body language. Our social media content. All of that is our personal brand and it means that we have one if we like it or not because some people argue like, “I don’t have a personal brand. I am not a personal brand.” I’m like, “No, you have one, if you like it or not.” 

Now, you can make the active decision if you allow other people in circumstances to dictate who you are and what you do and what you stand for. Or to stand up, to grow up, to take the reigns of leadership into your own hands and say, “You know what, that’s the reality of life. If you live in any kind of society. If you live on your own with your cat, or your dog, or your donkey somewhere far away from civilization, up the hill, you don’t need personal branding. But besides that, as long as you live with other human beings, you have it, you need it. Instead of being a past victim of your circumstances, why don’t you decide how you want to be perceived, how you want to help other people, how you want to be known. Elegantly produce the brand that you want to be in order to help yourself and in order to help others.

Why does everybody need personal branding?

It doesn’t matter if you go for a date, or if you go for a job interview, or if you are a service provider and people have looked for your services or for your product online. They will all use some type of search engine and you have a problem in two cases. Number one, I don’t find you. I don’t find anything about you. That is a problem because we live in 2020. That’s a little bit of weird. Are you awkward? Are you maybe weird? Should I be worried about you because I don’t find anything about you? Or do you just live a boring life? These are all of the thoughts that we have in our mind and they don’t serve you. 

On the other side, I also have a problem when I find material about you that really isn’t aligned with who you are, or what you do. Why don’t you stand up and say, “Okay, you know what, this is who I am. This is what I do. This is what people should know about me.” Then, especially work on your LinkedIn profile because whenever somebody looks up for you and you have an open profile on LinkedIn, your LinkedIn profile will definitely be among the first three entries on the top of that search engine results page – sometimes, even the first one. That’s one reason why you need to work on your personal brand.

Another reason is that if you work for somebody, you’ll get paid approximately 10% to 25% more with a clearly structured personal brand compared to people with average brand.

What are some questions that people should start asking themselves to try to figure out what their brand is all about?

The three biggest questions are #1 what kind of problems do you solve? Because I believe that every drop on this planet solves a problem. If you’re a dentist, you fix people’s problems with teeth. If you’re a cobbler, you fix people’s shoes. Even if you’re a serial killer, you fix certain problems. 

Second question, for whom do you solve it? Because you can’t be everybody’s darling. What is your niche? It doesn’t matter if you have your own business or if you work for somebody. 

If you are a sales expert, like say it’s expert for what? In which industry? Or for which country? In which cultures? For which products? What are you good at selling? Where? Make it easier for me because I do believe that – I mean the core of selling is the same, but you sell different when you sell diapers, or it’s maybe different when you sell a high luxury product like, I don’t know, an airplane.

The third question is what’s the end result? When I work with you, what do I get? Do I save money? Do I make more money? Do I lose weight? Do I feel happier? Do I save time? What is it? What is the end result? Ideally, when do I get that end result? Again, when you can clearly communicate that, this is game changer. You won’t believe how many people are not able to say that.

By actively positioning yourself and saying, “This is who I am. This is what I stand for,” automatically, you will position yourself and stand against something. Not because you want to hurt other people or because you want to be a bully, or because you want to be, whatever. It is just what it is. 

Why do you feel that LinkedIn is the best platform for building your own brand?

First of all, people on LinkedIn are in a business mindset which makes it easier to communicate with them. In my perception, a lot of people who are active on Facebook or Instagram, they rather use this platform to communicate to their friends or to be entertained. While people use LinkedIn to be informed. 

Social media is a communication, information, and entertainment tool. Sometimes, especially when you want to sell, when you want to do business, when you’re out there because you want to network. When you have this mindset and you approach Facebook or Instagram, it might not be the easiest way to get your message across. While on LinkedIn, people are in the mindset, “We’re doing business here,” so it’s easier to reach them. 

Second thing is that Facebook is super saturated at the moment. They have like 2.5 billion users. On LinkedIn, we have 700 million, so it makes a huge difference.

Also, when you look at the user numbers, Instagram is a teenage platform. 72% of all Instagram users are teenagers. If your product or services are not teenage-related, then it doesn’t make sense to spend much time on it. LinkedIn, definitely the typical user is older. 41% of all millionaires use LinkedIn, so especially have a high-end product, spend more time on LinkedIn.

I believe in a holistic personal branding approach that really goes from the inside out, online, offline. Online, it’s very important that you decide what’s your main platform? Is it LinkedIn? TikTok? Whatever it is. In order to figure that out, you need to understand.

Absolutely, because PR – I don’t know who said it once, but somebody said that marketing is fantastic, but marketing runs or slides smoother on a solid PR basis and PR is what other people say about you, usually big institutions either thought leaders. When you come in as an expert, you kind of get their ‘yes,’ their approval, their thumbs up, their recognition, their space, their time. You, as an authority, you and your credibility definitely massively gets increased when you show up at other people’s podcast, platforms, whatever, for sure. 

The Power of Podcasts For Building a Personal Brand

Tom: Podcasts are great. We’ve had our Selling in Asia podcast for about a year or so. I think we just had our one-year anniversary if I’m not wrong. We got a ton of episodes, so we’re going pretty fast. What I love about podcast is it gives you an opportunity to have really great conversations like we’re having right now. You can share it long form. You can put it into different audio snippets. You can put it into video excerpts and snippets. You can transcribe it and use that as a blog, a short form on LinkedIn. There are just so many ways to repurpose a podcast and it’s great because you can reach out to other podcasters as well in your space and reach their audience and get to know them better. It’s just a great way to build your brand. 

Natalia: For sure. For a lot of people who are very shy and say, “I know I should get more speaking gigs. I know I should be on panels. I know I should be in front of the camera.” This is one simple way how to express yourself through your voice first and to talk to other people. Once you feel as if you master this one, then the next natural step could be camera. 

Tom: The great thing about a podcast is it could be purely audio, if you’re camera shy, as you say. Or if you’re not. You just say, “Let’s throw on a camera. Now we’ve got video as well.” 

That’s great. That’s the online stuff: social media, podcast, discussion groups, blogs, and whatnot. You also talk about kind of the offline stuff. You talked about public relations. Are there any other things around offline? Maybe awards, or books, or something like that you’d want to talk about?

Natalia: I think what is very important is a lot of people, they don’t think a lot about how they present themselves. Your offline skills are very important as well in the sense of – I call them offline skills. It’s your public speaking. It is your storytelling. It is the way how you dress. People know me from my red lipstick and my blue glasses because this is how

This is also important because there is an incredible power in symbols and in colors. What works for Coca-Cola, and McDonalds, and Starbucks also works for you. Get clear on these things. Make sure that you’re aware on the way how you speak, and improve your public speaking skills, that you work with a color consultant. Ask yourself if there are any awards that you can get so, again, that other people say, “Yes, that person is good.” Can you write a book? So, you are seen as the authority in your field. Can you expand your social network to make sure that you help other people, other people help you? These are just a few things that you can work on, but it’s incredibly important and it’s one-fourth of the puzzle piece in order to make a huge impact.

Imagine that you are the guy who was always wearing bright colors. Or you’re the guy who’s always wearing some technology. Or you’re the guy who always has like a nice bow tie. Or you’re the guy with the crazy glasses. Or you’re the guy with the crazy socks. Or you’re the guy with whatever. This is a phenomenal conversation starter and, usually, it’s also connected to a compliment.

Maybe find a designer who designs a new cut that maybe they’re a little bit cut like your logo, or maybe they’re a little bit different. Like look at your core values and see if they could be also represented in a different style. People would be like, “Wow, this is so cool.” If this guy already puts in so much attention into the way how he presents himself, I want to know what’s behind that. It’s like what’s his knowledge? What’s his expertise? What’s his private life? What does he eat? What is he all about? Because we’re curious human beings. When we like what we see, we want to dig deeper on the stand the whole concept.

It’s like a shop window. Imagine you’re going down the street with your friends and your friend is on the left and you’re talking. You’re passing by this new shop. You’re really in a conversation, you’re talking, and then you’re like, “Oh, wait. There was something on the right side.” You grab your friend by the arm, and you look back and you see this beautifully decorated, crazy, colorful, different shop window that tells you, “Whoa! What’s this all about?” You ask your friends if you just can walk into that store and then you walk around, you touch things, and you put them on. Who knows? Maybe people also buy something. 

This is my job as a personal branding expert. My job is to make sure that people see your window. That they like your window. That they walk into your store. That they spend as much time as they can that they have like a taste for what you offer. Then, who knows? Maybe they also buy something. Make sure that you have a great profile picture because, again, it’s like the cover of a book. Make sure it’s professional, but also approachable. 

Creating a Powerful LinkedIn Profile Pictures

The background picture, at the end, for me, should show me within 3 seconds in which industry do you work? What kind of jobs do you have? Because a picture shows more than 10,000 words. Especially when you have your own business. Show me, you in action, you on a stage, you with people, you with awards. You can mention your social media channels. You can show me with whom you work. Just use that as additional information, as an additional tool to show me within less than 4 seconds who you are, what you do, for whom, and what the end result is because that increases the likeliness of people spending time there

Building Your LinkedIn Profile

See your LinkedIn profile as a free advertising space that you can use to build a relationship, tell your story, add value. That’s very important. Turn your profile into a source for others so that they learn, get informed, laugh, connect with you. Through that, you get their trust and then we can talk about selling. 

Document Don’t Create

Gary Vaynerchuk said you can start with documenting your journey instead of creating totally new content. A lot of people, when I work with them, they’re like, “Yeah, but I need to have a budget of USD300,000 for my first video.” I’m like, “Whoa! What are you trying to shoot? A one-and-a-half-minute video? No, no, no. You don’t need to do that, and you also don’t need to write the next Shakespeare play, and you don’t need to write a 3,000-word article. No.” 

If that creation intimidates you, start with documenting your journey. Here you “just” need to change your mindset towards you walk around through life and business as a content creator. No matter where you are on which situation, ask yourself “Would that look good on LinkedIn? What kind of story can I tell around this? How does that add value? Can I tell something that informs people? Can I teach something? Can I make people laugh through that? If that’s the case, take a picture with your smartphone. Don’t buy a professional camera from the beginning. Take your smartphone, make sure that you respect other people’s privacy, and then post exactly that. Start with that. Start with documenting what you see because content is all about adding value and you either inform and educate people, or you entertain them and make them laugh. You decide what kind of style you want. 

You also, again, don’t need to start with videos. You can start with a simple status update where you just write or write and take a picture. The important thing is that you show up and that you don’t make it about yourself. It’s about serving others. Stuff that you see on Instagram like, “Oh my God, look at me. #nofilter #blessed #onaboat #amazing Oh my God!” This is not what it’s about. It’s about others, it’s not about you.

What to Share on LinkedIn

Things about telling your story, giving people some insights, giving them hope, setting examples. Sharing customer experience as well. That’s a really great thing like since the success stories, what’s worked for them. There’s really no shortage of content. Like you say, you really just need a phone. I think it’s good to maybe have a mic or some kind of a headset so you get really good quality audio. 

I always tell people, people will forgive bad video sometimes, but if they can’t hear you, there’s no forgiving there. But then you can maybe put some captioning in, but that’s a bit more advanced. But at the very least, just have yourself some really good audio. Maybe an LED ring light or something. I’ve got this really cool light that’s on my phone when you’re out and there’s maybe some shadows, and some darkness, but it’s really easier now than ever to really get going, isn’t it?

Natalia: Absolutely. There are so many articles on this topic, and so many videos on this topic. Everybody who complains, “But I don’t know how to start.” There’s this thing called Google, or Bing, or Yahoo, or whatever. You can use it not only to look for adult content or to look for where you get your sushi from, but you can also use it for your personal development and for real problems that you have when it comes to content. So, going to find information, free information on this topic. 

Maximising Connections on LinkedIn

When somebody visits your profile, invite them to connect. It’s so easy. It’s like, “Hey, I’ve seen you’ve been on my profile. I’ve seen you’ve also been interested. Send out a personalized contact request. Very important. Personalized contact request. Don’t hit the connect button but tell me why I should connect with you. 

I use that all the time.” We know each other through.” “We know each other through Natalia,” or “We know each other through a networking group,” or “We know each other through this LinkedIn group,” or we know each other through – we’re in the same profession and I like to connect with like-minded people, but there’s got to be some reason.

Don’t be a stranger because people don’t connect with strangers. Make sure that you somehow has something in common and then, also, big one, that is the gamechanger. Give them the opportunity to say ‘no’ because some people are like, “I don’t know. Who are you? What do you want from me?” By saying something like, “Hey, I know you from blah, blah, blah. This is what I do.” One sentence without pitching, and then you say, “Would you like to connect?” 

I’ve read that you can connect with 75 people per day and then you get blocked by LinkedIn. Do I have to connect with 75 people per day?” I’ll say, “No, you don’t have to anything. Why don’t we start with understanding how does your current network look like and what kind of people are lacking in your network which is then based in the question, how does your dream network look like? With what kind of people do you want to be connected? Is it that you want to build a second life or live one day in Melbourne? Would it make sense to already connect with people in Melbourne? Do you, as a speaker, regularly look for people who have the title conference organizer and you want to get more speaking gigs in France? Would it make sense to maybe then connect with conference organizers in France? 

Create two or three avatars that you want to connect with. Use LinkedIn’s filters. And then LinkedIn will give you a list of potential people. It’s important that you send out these personalized contact request and if all of that is ridiculous pain for you, then literally start with 10 connection requests per day. You do that for a week. When you say, “Okay, cool, I’m still dying. I don’t feel overwhelmed and I got positive feedback,” you can increase it to 15, and do that for a week. Then, you can increase it to 20, and then you can increase it to 50, whatever. It depends on how much time you want to invest into this, how much you want to grow because the more people you connect with, well, it also is important that you later on have a follow up message. It depends on your follow up message then how much time and resources you invest into this because I see people who literally record a personalized video for everybody that they connect with. Imagine, you need to record 50 personalized videos of 30 seconds. Totally up to you. Let’s start with a number that feels good for you.

How much time should people be spending every day doing this kind of thing on LinkedIn? 

A lot of people are like, “Every day,” and then I say, “Okay, you know what? Let’s start with once per week, 15 minutes. Then, we increase it to two times per week 15 minutes, and three times. Once we have your five times per week, increase it to 20 minutes, to 30 minutes.” We both know that social media works in a way that it kind of influences our hormones because there’s a lot of gamification in there and we kind of get addicted to these likes and we want to see, “Did somebody commented? Did I get more likes? Did that go viral?” We talk about LinkedIn here, but people react like “How many people have shared my post?”

Start with regularly using that platform with something, again, that feels right to you.

What should sales professionals do right now to build their personal brand on LinkedIn?

I think it’s all about relationship building and building trust at the moment. We know that people need at least five to seven interactions with a brand so that they recognize it and they need quite a few interactions until they buy. Depending on the industry and the product, it takes between what? I’ve read between 30 to 90 days before somebody is ready to buy. That’s like an average number. If people are scared right now and they don’t want to buy right now.

what you can do right now is invest in relationships. Create content. Make them think. Make them laugh. Who knows what will happen at 30 days, 45 days, 90 days? Instead of just disappearing and blaming the economy or the current statues, whatever, really make sure that you add value through your content, but also that’s something a lot of people don’t do on LinkedIn and that’s just why? You can add so much value by connecting people with each other. 

You know Sarah, Sarah is good in so and so, and you know Martin. Sarah looks for somebody like Martin and Martin looks for somebody like Sarah because they always wanted to work on such a project, or on such a content idea. Why don’t you connect them? If they create some awesome content together, they will dedicate 30 seconds towards the fact that this only happened because so and so connected these two together. This is how you get a free shout out and that’s how people remember you as a connector. As somebody who brings people together without expecting anything in return so you will be known for being generous, for being open-hearted, for caring. I think this is incredibly important right now. 

People look for authenticity. They’re tired of faceless, greedy, huge corporations. They’re tired of perfect. They are tired of #nofilter because I can see the filter on it. Be you. Be more human and really invest in those relationships and ask, very often, when you ask, “How can I help you today?” A lot of people are like, “I don’t know. Let me think about it.” Be that person. “How can I help today? How can I help you today? How can I serve you today? How can I make your day today? Tell me.”

Learn more about Natalia Wiechowski by picking up her book Personal Branding with LinkedIn: The Think Natalia Method and connecting with her on her website, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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