Episode OneHundredFifty

4 Stages of Personal Branding on LinkedIn

Guest: Amy Volas, Founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners

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About This Episode

On LinkedIn, it isn’t just about getting more visibility.

It’s about getting the right visibility.

This is something I’m incredibly passionate about. (Basically from 6:00-6:30 every morning, I’m treating engagement on LinkedIn as my second job.)

I recently got to interview another person who takes LinkedIn content as seriously as I do: Amy Volas, Founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners

Amy and I met on LinkedIn, where she creates amazing content. “Sales is my first business love,” Amy said. “It’s always been enterprise sales.”

After being bitten by the startup bug, she says the chronic problem she solves isn’t finding people to talk to, it’s finding the right people for the right company.

“I started Avenue Talent Partners to help varying stages of startups get their enterprise sales hiring and their executive sales leadership hiring right the first time around,” Amy said.

To personal brand or not to personal brand

About a year ago, Amy talked with 3 LinkedIn engineers who told her that content was growing 400%. And it’s only gotten hotter.

When personal branding is done right, Amy is a huge fan. But not everyone who is in sales and marketing should be out there online creating a brand.

“There are some people that have no business yet to jump into the content pond,” Amy said. Starting too early will hurt your personal brand, not help it.

Should everyone be creating a brand?

“To be a good storyteller, you first have to collect stories,” Amy said. This speaks to the need for experience before you can launch yourself on LinkedIn content.

The worst thing you can do is rip off other people’s ideas. Everyone sees right through that.

The best thing you can do is have a thoughtful conversation. “It’s the one thing that I am amazed by every single day is somebody might come to me and say, ‘I’ve been watching what you’ve been writing for two years,’” Amy said.

She made a conscious decision to be consistent, put her best foot forward, share things that might be hard to share, and do it all with the intention to make others better. “It goes deeper than word vomit, essentially,” she quipped.

4 stages of LinkedIn growth

Starting slow is still starting. Amy has some encouragement: 

“You’re still exercising your knowledge, you’re still jumping into LinkedIn, you’re still sharing content. But it’s not this platform of terrible advice that nobody can take seriously because you don’t have the story to tell,” she said.

Try these 4 stages to grow your personal brand on LinkedIn. (Hint: Don’t go too fast. Each one could take weeks or months.)

1. Be a listener

Look at the content you admire. Read comments to hear what people are saying. Be authentic when you do comment.

Listen for places where you can add value to the community. In other words, identify your niche.

2. Be an aggregator

Don’t worry about the algorithm, just find interesting articles and share them.

If they get just 10 likes, that’s not the point. It’s about you consuming more and more materials that your community is going to enjoy.

3. Be a synthesizer

Take those articles (give them credit!) and point out three things you learned from them.

Aggregating is unbelievably valuable because now I don’t have to go and read that article — and you just saved me 20 minutes.

4. Be a contributor

“It starts out with a mindset,” Amy said. “LinkedIn is still a professional network. People can disagree with me all day long, but you’re trying to do business.”

Remember that the point of this is to grow business relationships (and don’t post about yourself doing bench presses… please…).

For fantastic examples, I’d point you straight to Amy’s articles and also to Justin Walsh’s LinkedIn playbook.

Who owns your content?

If you are on LinkedIn building a personal brand with your company’s email… who owns that? Is it the company or the individual?

Amy’s take was right to the point. “Who holds the purse strings? In this case, whomever is paying for LinkedIn is the person that owns the content,” she said.

That’s pretty black or white. I mean, if you got fired, unless you negotiated something where you take over that account, you don’t own it. They do.

Same if you invented an idea for a new SaaS platform. It belongs to them.

For Amy working at her own company, she still considers whether she should post controversial content. Because it still isn’t just about her as an individual. It’s Amy as the Founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners. 

“If I have to question whether I should do it or not, the answer for me is pretty clear I shouldn’t do it,” she said.

Bottom line: If the company’s paying for it, it’s a company tool.

Do yourself a favor and don’t post things that could impede your ability to get promoted or that will wind up being owned by somewhere you leave 5 years from now.

Lay out the expectations and guard rails in advance. 

Amy said to talk to your company about your personal brand goals. “You owe it to yourself and to your employer to say, ‘This is something that’s important to me. I’m here to help all of us get better together and be engaging to our buyers,’” she said.

To keep this conversation going or to take in some of her fantastic content, follow Amy on LinkedIn.

For even more engaging sales conversations, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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