Bolster and Enhance Your Online Brand – A Best Practices Guide
This week’s blog will wraps up Chris Carlson’s three part series on building your online brand. In Part 1 Chris shared 5 Goals for LinkedIn Branding. Part 2 focused on The Glassdoor Effect on Your Hiring Brand. The final blog of this series will address how to repair and/or improve your LinkedIn and Glassdoor brands.
Before you begin it’s important to understand exactly what your personal brand or your company’s hiring brand is. To quote a veteran of the advertising world, Joey Dumont, “It must be authentic to be credible.” He further cautions that “cleverness divides, clearness includes.” In other words, if your product or company can’t actually achieve their online claims your efforts at online branding will prove futile.
For example, your online brand might speak to having a team that is incredibly responsive to your customers’ needs. If that isn’t true it will quickly be apparent and you’ll soon lose that customer. To give a more personal example, your personal brand might boast fantastic problem solving abilities. If that’s why I’m interested in interviewing you I’m showing up to that interview with several questions designed to test your claim. Quite simply, I love the adage “say what you do, do what you say.”
In Part 1 of this series I established 5 goals for your LinkedIn profile:
Differentiate Yourself (What You Do Well)
Provide External Validation
Establish Yourself or Your Company as a Thought Leader
I also gave a few examples of how to achieve each of these goals – Part 1. Building on these goals, consider what is it that you or your company is authentically good at? This differentiator needs to be woven through your LinkedIn, Glassdoor (if we’re discussing your employment brand) and every other online medium out there.
Although there are better examples out there, to protect the innocent, I’ll use Sales Talent’s Company Page and my own LinkedIn Profile as an example of how to do this. As I take you through my own profile I’ll point out various tools within LinkedIn that help me: a) put forward a consistent message b) back up my claims (external validity) and c) establish myself as a thought leader which with an eye towards gaining followers (and influence).
Take a Professional Photo That Matches Your Brand
In my 1st blog I shared that LInkedIn users with a Profile Photo get 7x the number of views as users without a photo. In speaking with my Account Manager at LinkedIn he said that the increase is much higher if the photo is professional and well done.
To that end, we planned and executed a Sales Talent team “photo day”. Personally, I hate having my picture taken but we did manage to find 2 photos that the team liked out of the 100 that were shot of me that day. My profile pic is below and the other I use for my “About Me” picture for the sales blog section of our company website (LinkedIn photo below).
Improve Your Summary Section
Right below my photo in my profile is the “Summary” section which I use to describe what we do well:
“When it comes to making a career change or hiring a new sales professional we understand what is at stake. On the candidate side, our interview processes are strictly confidential and we strive to accurately represent each opportunity. If the opportunity is not a step up, you’ll know. With our clients, we align ourselves as a true partner in your quest to hire sales reps that will move the needle and stick with your organization. With both sides, our processes are designed to find that perfect fit.”
Most LinkedIn profile Summaries that I read give an overview of their company’s products and services. Instead think about what problems you and/or your company can solve.
Strengthen Your Summary With Slideshare & Multimedia
At the bottom of the “Summary” section LinkedIn allows you to upload Slideshares that can further speak to you or your company’s abilities and differentiators. This is a screenshot from Page 1 of my 1st of 2 Slideshares (major points underlined for emphasis):
My 2nd Slideshare is a “White Paper” that I wrote on “How to Hire (and Keep) Top Sales Performers” further speaking to my desire to “find that perfect fit” that I promised in my “Summary”. It also helps establish me as a thought leader.
The Slideshare platform also allows you to upload videos or presentations that can help differentiate you and your company. In fact, we’re working on a few videos here at Sales Talent. With online attention spans low it’s easy to overwhelm the reader with too much information. Videos can replace pages of written content and distill it down to 60-90 seconds.
Get Strong Recommendations
Moving down to the “Recommendations” section of my profile here are my first two recommendations (once again, main points underlined):
It is important to note that you can change the order of your recommendations. When in edit mode you’ll see up and down arrows that enable you to move your recommendations up or down. As you can only see the first five recommendations (without clicking the More button) in the public version of your profile this is an important piece to remember.
The best prospects for Recommendations for your LinkedIn profile are your most satisfied customers. I would also encourage you to have former employees recommend your coaching and leadership skills if you are a hiring manager. You can request one of your LinkedIn contacts to recommend you by following the path outlined in the screenshots below:
Click on “Manage” which will take you here:
Click on “Ask for recommendations” and use the easy to follow prompts to send a request. In the screenshot above you can see that I have a “Pending recommendation”. Recommendations do not go live on your profile until you approve them. You can also ask your recommender to edit or add to a recommendation if desired. This is especially helpful if there are grammar or punctuation errors in the recommendation. Nothing kills a strong recommendation faster than poor writing.
Honors & Awards
Moving further down my profile you’ll come to “Honors & Awards”. We’re especially proud of back-to-back wins as a “100 Best Companies to Work For”. Although it doesn’t directly speak to treating our clients and candidates well I do believe that the awards imply it. We’ve also been a “100 Fastest Growing” company which speaks to marketplace success:
Build Credibility As a Thought Leader
Building on your ability to establish yourself as Thought Leader, LInkedIn allows its users to share valuable content in the “Posts” section of their profile. You can also share content on your company page by posting “Updates”. With my own profile, I have written and shared 7 “Posts” that all speak to how to be or how to select a Top Sales Performer. In the top right corner of my “Posts” section It also shows that I have 4,134 “followers”. A small measure of credibility that only shows up on your profile if you publish a “Post”.
Make Your Company Page Authentic
Moving over to the Sales Talent “Company Page” and our other employee profiles I believe that you will find consistent messaging and a similar look and feel. You’ll also see that our Company Page has an additional 3,374 “followers”. We’re only a few months into our LinkedIn “Rebrand” but we’ve been very pleased with the results so far as we’ve seen a measurable improvement in the percentage of InMails being accepted and an increase in the # of “followers” for our Company Page and my own personal profile.
Going forward, I’m focused on increasing the amount of “Posts” that I share and “Recommendations” I have on my profile. As we are currently underway with a major website “Rebrand” we’ll make sure to coordinate this with the messaging and look and feel we’ve established on LinkedIn. We’ll also be make sure to speak to what it’s like to work at Sales Talent during the website “Rebrand”. Once completed, we’ll tie that back into our Company Page on LinkedIn. With that, it’s a good time to switch the discussion over to Establishing or Repairing your Glassdoor “Hiring Brand”.
Establishing & Repairing Your Glassdoor “Hiring Brand”
Once reviewed on Glassdoor, your company will have an aggregate score from 1-5 stars. With the average company score being a 3.3 it should go without saying that you should aim to be above that mark. The “Best Places to Work” award winners on their site have scores between 4.0 and 4.7. If your company is on that list, jump to the end of this blog to read my thoughts on leveraging this. If your company has yet to be reviewed or has several negative scores pulling down your average I have 5 suggestions below to help establish or pull your score up.
Before you start, it’s once again important to get clear with what your company’s “Hiring Brand” is and why the best and brightest should consider interviewing there. Glassdoor’s own website has some excellent content (employer blog & Hiring Brand eBooks) available on their site to help start you on this journey. From this wealth of information, here’s my top 5 tips for establishing or turning around your Glassdoor score.
Survey your employees to uncover the common themes as to what they most like about working for your company. That’s the beginnings of your “Hiring Brand”.
Ask your happiest and most loyal employees to post on Glassdoor exactly why they enjoy working at your company. After all, A players want to work with other A players so they should be motivated to advance the cause. Once again, only an authentic review will be credible.
Use the feedback you get from negative reviews to improve the experience of working at your company.
Select someone from your executive team to respond to both negative and positive reviews. It shows that management is listening, that they care and that they invite the opportunity to improve their company. Glassdoor puts out an excellent eBook on this subject – Responding to Reviews Builds Trust With Your Candidates.
Set a goal that’s tied to improving your Hiring Brand. Whether that is improving new employee onboarding or winning a “Best Companies to Work For” contest. Make this a company-wide initiative to make your company a destination of choice for potential employees.
If your company is below the radar a great Glassdoor score might be the only external validation your company has and it can absolutely make a difference when competing for talent. Here are a few tips on how to exploit your hard won score:
Highlight your Glassdoor score on every job posting with embedded links that will take them directly to your reviews.
Create a culture where everyone in your company is focused on maintaining and improving your Glassdoor score. We saw a strong sense of pride within our own team when Sales Talent won Seattle Business Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For in Washington State.”
Discuss your company’s focus on creating a fantastic workplace and Glassdoor results with every candidate you meet. This creates a shift from offering a job to an opportunity to join an elite team.
Post your Glassdoor score on the front page of the Employment section of your website.
I’ll leave you with our own story with regards to improving Sales Talent’s Hiring Brand. As part of participating in Seattle Business Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” contest, every employee within our company took part in an exhaustive survey. Aside from the obvious benefit to our Hiring Brand of winning that award, I found that the feedback we received when reviewing these anonymous answers to be pure gold. After reading the comments we identified several areas where we could make Sales Talent both a stronger company AND a better company to work for.
I would strongly encourage any company looking to improve to take part in any “Best Companies to Work For” contests that they qualify for. Especially if you’ll receive the feedback on what you’re doing well and what you’re not. As for our own work at improving Sales Talent, Seattle Business Magazine increased the # of employees required to participate in their contest for 2014 which disqualified us. As I’m typing this, I realize that we need to load the questions from previous years into surveymonkey to see how we’re doing 12 months later. And you can bet that part of our Hiring Brand development plan is to grow our company enough to compete again.
Chris Carlson is the founder and President of Sales Talent Inc, a Seattle based National B2B sales recruiting firm. You can click through to sign up for and follow his Blog or view Sales Talent’s current Sales Openings.