Wouldn’t it be awesome if you walked into a business networking event and everyone knew who you were and what you did even if they have never met you in person before? Would having them know you help you to start a conversation and attract attention? Being able to quickly connect with people, talk with them about who you are and to find out who they are is an avenue for building relationships. This critical first step in relationship building takes place at business networking events in the market here on Long Island and in business communities across the nation every day.
So how do you become a local business rock star?
Understand your brand and brand message
Examine who you are and what you stand for. Understand your brand and your message. You need to clearly define your brand, what you stand for and what you are passionate about. This will enable you to craft your elevator speech and your online message. You will be ready to create your LinkedIn and other social media profiles for people to review and quickly grasp what you stand for. Remember your message should not be about you, it should be about what you can do for others and how you can work with them to overcome a challenge or achieve a goal.
Who you are is presented in the content that you produce. Your blog, videos, speeches, social media posts or a book allow you to present your point of view and expertise. This content positions you as an expert and by presenting your views in an informative and passionate way you will generate a buzz. Remember that the content has to be interesting and applicable to your audience.
Know your audience
In the context of being a local business rock star, we know the audience will be local businesses. You may need to identify the types of businesspeople or professionals that you want to meet within the marketplace. By narrowing your focus, you can convey quality content to them. If, for example, you are a financial services professional it is likely that accountants are a good referral source for you. Getting in front of this audience regularly is important. Start by searching for groups in LinkedIn. There are business and accounting groups with members who fit your criteria as referral partners. Become active in these groups and share your content and ask questions. From a local business perspective, go to LinkedIn and search for business-focused groups in your geographic area. On Long Island, for example, there are over 100 business-focused groups. Some are of general interest while others cater to niche industries or interests. Join the best groups that fit your audience and become active.
Use Video and Give
People are drawn to others who give. Individuals who offer quality written content or video that will help people grow their business or become more successful attract attention and shares. Video is essential to becoming a rock star. People want video, people prefer video and video is the best way to present your personal message. When you are in front of the camera you can speak directly to your audience. This is where your knowledge can shine, people will get to know you and they will see and hear what you stand for. Let your personality and passion come out and people will remember you and what you do. It is essential to first get your personal brand message on video and then follow up with the helpful content. Your personal brand video should not be a hard sell; tell people who you are and what you stand for, followed by how you can help them.
Presenting a memorable image
To be a local business rock star you need to present a memorable image. Rock stars have a “look” or style that defines them. On the local level we don’t have to go to this extreme. Create a professional look and style of your own and be consistent with this style in the real world and online. You must have a professional headshot on LinkedIn, the image can vary on other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter since they are less formal social environments. The photos and images you use online are important in the process of becoming a rock star and memorable person. Having a quality image on LinkedIn is smart because only one in seven people will even look at your profile if you don’t have an image. If no one is looking at you, you will not become a rock star. Your image will be right next to your posts, on your profile pages of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Your image should also be part of your printed marketing materials and newsletters.
The paparazzi follows rock stars and the media loves to cover them. When you establish yourself as a local business leader and expert, the media will want to interview you. How do you get the media interested in you? Start by saying hello and commenting on articles that reporters write on subjects of interest to you or your customers. Follow members of the media on social media and when you have an idea send them an email. Check out my blog on getting media coverage for more details and strategies. (Speaking For Your Brand)
When you are interviewed by the media, your stardom and credibility increases. More people will see you and they will become more aware of you and your brand. Remember to share this content on all of your social streams and directly with people to make sure the largest audience sees this important content. Don’t just do it once; share this content periodically, especially if you get a TV or video interview.
Doing good is good for your brand and others will notice. Involvement with community groups, charities and not-for-profits gives you the opportunity to show that you care and are an active supporter in your community. Share your involvement with others in person and online. Your active support of charities will positively reinforce your reputation with people. Do something out of the box for charity and make sure to record it on video or with images. Fight for Charity as a volunteer boxer, take the ice bucket challenge or the polar bear plunge, take part in walks, marathons and other activities all of which are opportunities to tell your stories to reveal who you are and what you are passionate about. I am an active member of the board of the Marty Lyons Foundation. mention this whenever I do speaking engagements and share my interest and support of the foundation actively online.
Here is one quick example: on Long Island we host an event every year called the Long Island Fight for Charity. This is an event where local businesspeople train and then get in the ring and box. The event has over 1,000 attendees and is a memorable once in a lifetime experience for a boxer. The volunteer boxers use social media, media coverage and events to market themselves. The result? These men and women become local business rock stars. They attract attention, their businesses get attention and reap opportunities for success.
What is the key to becoming a local rock star? It is to simply keep presenting yourself and your brand message to your audiences. Be different and show what you care about in terms of business, personally and charity. Give them the content that they want and need and leverage the power of social media. Be active in locally focused business groups online and harness the power of the media to spread your message. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t be a rock star.
By Bill Corbett