I was inspired to talk about how to engage potential customers and build trust after a recent search on LinkedIn. I was searching for a sales funnel and email marketing specialist, and I came across several people who claimed to be consultants or specialists for hire. When I wanted to learn more, I couldn’t find anything about them online. No reviews, no website, and no information about why or how someone could hire them. This is an immediate red flag for me, but when I thought more about it, I realized that maybe people just don’t know how to engage potential customers and build trust.
As a personal branding expert, I often discuss why it’s important to cultivate a personal brand and optimize platforms like LinkedIn, so I was astounded that so many people who want to be hired as a consultant or expert don’t know how to create an online footprint. If you do not know how to maximize your online footprint, you are hurting your career and losing business. When you’re not a heritage brand, your online footprint is even more important when you’re trying to engage potential customers and build trust.
Optimize your LinkedIn profile
This is the first step of engaging potential customers. If you’re not on LinkedIn currently, create an account now. This is one of the most widely used platforms in career development, so underutilizing LinkedIn could be detrimental for your career. You’ll want to make sure your profile is fully optimized, but on top of that, make sure that your contact information is prominent, especially if you’re interested in getting hired for your services.
"If you don't know how to maximize your online footprint, you're hurting your career and losing business."
Highlighting your expertise and how you can help others is also one of the most important aspects of engaging potential customers. Show examples of your work and your professional achievements to show potential customers exactly what you can do for them.
If you are offering professional services and are a registered business, create a company page on LinkedIn where people can learn more about your business and see that it is legitimate. Creating a company page on a trusted platform like LinkedIn helps build trust in your own brand.
Demonstrate a professional brand
If you’re offering professional services, you’ll want to demonstrate a professional brand that’s consistent across all channels. This means creating uniform content and being present on a company website, LinkedIn, Google, Yelp, and social media. The more channels and social platforms you utilize, the more reputable and trustworthy your brand becomes. If someone is unable to find a source of your work, including examples, contact information, and recognition, they’re unlikely to trust you as a brand and a professional. If you can’t establish trust among consumers, you won’t have a successful business.
Utilize referral marketing
Referrals, recommendations, and testimonials are a huge part of building online trust and maximizing your online footprint. When a trusted friend tells you about a business, you transfer that trust to the company. Use LinkedIn recommendations, Yelp reviews, and customer testimonials on your website to help build trust and highlight your achievements. If real customers can attest to your quality of work and what you have accomplished for them, you will be able to establish yourself as a reputable resource.
As a side note, building up your presence on sites like Yelp will immensely help you because consumers trust that you cannot buy good reviews on that platform. Yelp uses algorithms which test and verify the reviews before posting them, which creates another level of consumer trust. When you’re using a trusted platform, it can appear more legitimate than simply writing down a customer testimonial with no verification.
Cultivate a consistent personal brand across channels
Creating a cohesive personal brand is extremely important for developing your career, and using consistent branding across channels helps build your credibility. Think about it this way: If you search for a person or business and see multiple platforms and channels come up with the same information and visuals, you can assume that this brand has put in the time to create a consistent branding strategy. If you see different visuals, as well as inconsistent verbiage and service offerings across platforms, it’s harder to believe that the brand is professional and trustworthy.
When considering how to optimize your online footprint, you want to focus on a few main factors:
- Providing resources such as contact information and examples of work
- Creating a consistent brand across channels
- Creating trust through reviews and testimonials to establish yourself as a reputable source of work
The more information about yourself as a business professional you can put out there, the more trusted you will become. Note that this is not personal information, but information about business like business contact information, business information, services offered, etc.
A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.