Why you need a personal online brand to grow your business

Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 77 we spoke to Matthew Lakajev about how to build your online persona for business success.

Matthew Lakajev, founder and CEO of UnlockAI, is the number one fastest-growing LinkedIn creator in Australia.

UnlockAI empowers businesses to automate their LinkedIn lead generation with AI. His approach, which combines organic content and strategic messaging, has proven successful, generating over $247,000 in 100 days on LinkedIn. In the “The AI Sales Revolution” podcast, he gives actionable advice on using AI for sales and marketing. UnlockAI’s program, based on Lakajev’s strategies, promises a transformative approach to enhancing online brand presence and accelerating lead acquisition on LinkedIn.

Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with Matthew Lakajev on YouTubeSpotifyListen Notes, or Player FM.

It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.

Authored by Matthew Lakajev, Founder and CEO of UnlockAI.

For small business owners, the online world is a goldmine of opportunities. Getting your online personal brand right is a must, and it’s simpler than you think. I’m here to guide you through making your offline persona shine online, making smart, authentic moves on LinkedIn, and using your online presence to rake in real business growth.

What even is a personal online brand?

People tend to make it sound more complex than it really is. Put simply, a personal brand is your professional persona and reputation, just displayed online. It’s a digital extension of your real-world professional interactions.

Before the internet became a big thing in our lives, say 20 years ago, the way you got business was by attending events, flying to seminars across the globe, and exchanging business cards.   Don’t get me wrong, these are still great things to do, but with today’s technology, you can present your professional self just as effectively online as you do offline.

LinkedIn is the biggest platform for building your professional brand. Building a LinkedIn profile, creating content, and speaking to people online is just like traditional networking. The only difference is that it’s leverageable. You have a wider reach because you’re not constricted by face-to-face meetings. How many coffee catch-ups can you do a day realistically? Not that many. With LinkedIn, you can share content that’s one-to-many, not one-to-one.

Say, for example, I wrote a LinkedIn newsletter that 500 people read – That’s 500 individuals I’m engaging with at the same time. I can also message a lot of these people right away, whereas if I were networking face-to-face, I could only speak to five people max at once. So, having an online profile allows you to scale your networking and complement your offline brand.

Nowadays, it’s not a choice whether you have an online brand or not. You need to have one. By not choosing to have one, that’s essentially damaging your reputation. I realised this in one of my networking groups when I didn’t understand why business owners who had been around for 25 years kept saying they couldn’t get customers. I remember Googling them one day and nothing came up. It’s like they didn’t exist. Then, I looked at their LinkedIn profile and it looks outdated and unkempt. I wouldn’t trust this person to do business with at all!

If you don’t show up in Google searches, it may plant a seed of doubt in potential clients or partners before you even have a shot. You may lose out to competitors who are less reliable just because they have an online presence.

Why LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is the main platform for professionals. Imagine being in a room where everyone earns three times the average – sounds like a room you want to be in, right? That’s what LinkedIn is.

LinkedIn users are typically looking for credible, professional interactions, not the crazy promises like ‘get 20 leads in a week’ or giveaways that you might see in ads on other social media platforms. It’s a platform for genuine connections and meaningful conversations with high-net-worth individuals who are looking for serious business discussions. It’s the perfect place to build valuable, long-term partnerships and open doors to new opportunities.

Starting your LinkedIn journey can be intimidating, like walking into a crowded networking event where you need to introduce yourself to strangers. But remember, it’s all about the process. Once you start engaging, it becomes more intuitive. A small investment in a good LinkedIn setup course can save you months of trial and error and unnecessary stress.

The power of authenticity in online branding

People gravitate towards realness. They want to connect with the real you, not just a polished business image. When you share both your successes and setbacks, you become more relatable and trustworthy.

Marketing guru Gary Vee has long preached the value of giving first with his “jab, jab, jab” strategy, which focuses on consistently offering value before asking for anything back. In a digital world full of noise, your authenticity helps you stand out. It’s like being that person at a party who grabs everyone’s attention by just being themselves. Not everyone will vibe with you, but those who do will likely become loyal fans.

Authenticity lets you reach a wider, global audience beyond your local area. But remember, you can’t fake it. People can spot insincerity a mile away. Just look at Alex Hormozi. He’s blunt and no-nonsense. Some find him too direct, but his honesty has attracted a huge following, especially among young entrepreneurs who appreciate his bluntness.

Turning your online presence into a sales machine

While LinkedIn has many uses, one of the main ways small business owners use the platform is to generate leads. If this is your goal, you’ll want to focus on the three C’s: Conversation, content and conversion. 

Conversations: This is about how many genuine conversations you’re starting with your ideal potential clients every day. It’s just like networking in person. Make sure it feels personal. Tailor your messages to the person you’re reaching out to. Remember, the strength of your network significantly impacts your net worth. How actively are you engaging with people?

Content: All this means is writing a LinkedIn post and adding photos to go with it. Start by posting once a week so you can be consistent without getting stressed about it. Drop articles, quick tips, and insights that matter to your field. This shows off your expertise and keeps you popping up in your networks’ feeds.

Conversion optimisation: Think about what you want people to do after they visit your LinkedIn profile. Whether it’s scheduling a meeting, signing up for more info, or checking out your services, make the next steps clear and easy to find.

Reframe your mindset so you’re not ‘selling’ (which has bad connotations). Instead, think of it like you’re helping. It’s like how your dentist follows up with you to remind you you’re due for a checkup to prevent further issues. Your online interactions should aim to help others and provide value. It’s hard to sell, but it’s easy to lend a helping hand.

When you respond to comments, add something valuable. Skip the generic replies and instead give insights that show your expertise and build trust.

Think of LinkedIn as a big networking event. Instead of handing out business cards, you’re exchanging ideas and comments. When you share great content and engage genuinely, you build trust and establish yourself as a go-to person in your field.

How to generate warm leads

Now, let me tell you step-by-step how you can generate warm leads online immediately.

  1. Run an offer campaign: Compile a list of everyone you’ve ever contacted, especially those who initially said no. This includes contacts from your emails, social media, and any other communication channels.
  2. Send a nine-word email: Shoot a simple email to this list that cuts right to the chase. Try something like, “Are you still looking to solve [specific problem]?” It prompts a clear response.
  3. Make an offer special offer: For those who reply positively, introduce a special offer. Call it something catchy like the “March Special,” and pack it with irresistible perks like discounts or bonus sessions. This creates urgency and exclusivity.
  4. Engage and qualify: If they’re interested in your offer, dig a little deeper with a few questions to make sure they’re the right fit for what you’re offering. If it looks good, propose a call or meeting to hash out the details.
  5. Regularly refresh your campaign: Keep your pipeline vibrant by running these campaigns every quarter. This keeps your solutions top of mind and rekindles interest among your prospects.

Warm leads are great to target because they’ve already shown a real interest in your services. They might have interacted with your content, responded to previous outreach, or discussed their needs informally before. When you reach out to them with a personalised message that recognises their specific needs, you’re more likely to grab their attention.

For example, if someone checks out your LinkedIn profile, you could message them saying, “Thanks for visiting my profile! Are you looking for help with [service] this year?” If they respond positively, they’re showing they’re a warm lead, interested and potentially ready to engage your services soon.

Always aim to help, not just sell. People can tell when they’re being pushed too hard, and a softer, more helpful approach will build trust and rapport, the key to turning warm leads into loyal customers.

You can easily turn your online presence into a powerful tool to grow your business. You just need to be authentic, stay active, and keep focused on the three C’s. By doing this, you’ll not only pull in interested leads but also turn them into dedicated customers. It’s time to embrace the digital space with a clear and authentic strategy.