When I was young(er) and just entering corporate life, I was lucky enough to meet someone who left a profound impression on me and my professional life since. He told me, “When you first come in to business all you have is your reputation, and you spend the rest your career maintaining it. If you lose that you have nothing at the end, not matter how much wealth you accumulate along the way”.
This was valid in the pre-web days, but this advice is that much more relevant today in the Web 2.0 days or for those of us in sales, Sales 2.0. At a time when information truly moves at lightning speed, you can both enhance and ruin your reputation in an instance.
On the down side, your buyers are much more connected than ever, they are aware not only things you want them to know, and as much aware of things you always hoped they would never know. Most sellers work hard at influencing their clients, creating an impression of their product, their company and themselves in the process, and while their good deeds are carried across the social waves, so are and indiscretions or simple faux pas, at time with much greater velocity.
Sellers need to be much more conscious and conscientious about their “social media footprint”. Unlike what many want to believe, there is no separation between their personal and business related Web 2.0 or Sales 2.0 activities, it is all one stream. We do not have the comfort of looking all very prim and proper on LinkedIn while “letting our hair down” (or other things) on Facebook. It is no longer a novelty for companies to check out these and other sites when considering potential candidates for positions, or vendors and sellers when it comes to deciding on a purchase, it is SOP.
It goes a lot further than that, it does not take much to see what you Digg and how that jives with the image you are projecting with your buyer. A disconnect there can only lead them to believe that you are disingenuous and may not be worthy of their business. And they don’t even have to make much of an effort, there are companies that are happy to do it for them for a nominal fee.
Some may argue that this is not right, what you do in your personal time is your business and should not affect you as a seller, wrong Dorothy, it does. This isn’t about the “business you” and the “private you”, especially if you are always preaching that people buy from people, yes they do, and now they have a way of seeing the “entire you”, not just the “9:00 to 5:00 you”. This is also not about being right or wrong, as a friend of mine always asks me “do you want to be right, or do you want to be rich?”, in sales you want to go with rich.
It doesn’t take a lot to guard and be smart, you don’t have to “compromise” or “give in to the man”, you just need to be smart and prepared, which is a basic tenet in sales anyway, so just extend it to your “social media footprint”. As we said up top, “Your Reputation Gets Around Even When You Don’t”, so make an effort to keep an eye on it.
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“The concept of Personal Branding has lost it’s way. It’s becoming less and less personal.
Personal Branding seemed to be something unique and powerful because of the advent of the Internet and the Social Media channels. Suddenly, any one individual could express themselves (in text, images, audio and video) instantly (and free) to the world. The smartest people could now be heard. The shy people could now connect to others who were like them. Those interested in Digital Marketing suddenly had all of this great content being published by their peers that they could add to, connect to and build a community around. We didn’t need the permission or acceptance of the mass media channels to get coverage or ink. Suddenly, we could build our own media channels and get the word out about who we are and what we have to say.
Those that were doing it well, were doing it authentically and with true passion.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a media channel that allows anyone and everyone to have a publishing platform, the concept of Personal Branding has evolved along with it. Instead of people really digging deep, opening up and living passionately, we’re moving ever-closer to the point where most individuals are expressing their Personal Brands in ways that make them look more like sterile and plastic TV news anchors than original thinkers. It’s not everyone (there are still many who are using these channels to really highlight and explore their unique personalities), but there is an ever-growing group of those who come off as fake, insincere, and simply out for their own personal gain. In short, they seem and feel like plastic and taste like vanilla.
The good news is that you can ignore them or not follow them.
The bad news is that if everyone treats Social Media like it’s mass media, and attempts to be everything to everybody, it’s going to come off as fake and inauthentic. Does this mean that we have to forgo social norms to be authentic? Nope (unless that’s your thing). Does this mean that we have to be provocative, irreverent and nasty? Nope (unless that’s your thing). What is missing (and what is direly needed) is for all us to take a step back and remember the real power here: to express ourselves in an authentic and passionate way (not in a drone-like corporate way).
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