You should, because your sales team can’t do it alone. In the B2B world, having a credible bench of senior managers and C-level employees sets your firm apart from the competition and keeps it top of mind among prospective accounts. In B2C land, executive credibility — or, for starters, a charismatic founder — builds and reinforces customer trust.
Either way, it’s all about thought leadership. Here’s how to leverage your key employees’ extant expertise, grow their credibility, and create a perception of collective competence whose powerful — if intangible — bottom-line effect can’t be overstated.
- Make Their LinkedIn Profiles Believable
You can’t micromanage the content that appears on your employees’ LinkedIn profiles, but you can certainly give pointers. Remember, you’re cultivating the perception (which follows the reality, of course) of competence in your senior leadership ranks. That means:
- Racking up the endorsements and testimonials
- Connecting them with other thought leaders in your field
- Establishing some degree of thematic consistency in their posting, sharing, and “liking” habits
- Filling in any gaps in their CVs
- Get Them on Crunchbase
Crunchbase is an oft-overlooked social platform for entrepreneurs and professionals. One needs to achieve a certain threshold of seniority and/or professional prominence to make a legitimate play here, but you — as a founder and/or C-level exec — certainly qualify. So do your co-founders, if any.
Individuals’ Crunchbase profiles should highlight their qualifications, achievements, and claims to expertise. The Crunchbase profile for Florida entrepreneur Steve Dorfman is a good example, explaining where Dorfman has been, what he’s done so far, and where he’s going.
- Set Up a Realistic Publishing Schedule
Publishing is a chore. You can make it less so by doing these three things:
- Setting up a realistic publishing schedule, perhaps once per week
- Cross-posting content on multiple platforms, such as LinkedIn, your company blog, and your company’s Medium page, depending on relevance
- Farming out drafting work to subordinates or trusted outside contractors, then editing the final product yourself
- Hire a Social Media Manager or Coordinator
Maintaining a multi-channel social media presence is a chore, too. You can dramatically reduce your personal workload here by hiring a social media manager to coordinate your company’s entire social ecosystem, including its key employees’ personal handles. Your social media manager shouldn’t be your third or fourth hire, but you’ll want them in place sooner rather than later. Your job isn’t to remember to schedule tweets for six key team members; theirs is.
- Do Media Q&As (Smartly)
Talking to the media is always a crap shoot. Skew the odds in your favor by cultivating relationships with friendly journos: trade reporters and general business types who aren’t looking to break scoops. The preferred format: Q&A stories over which you’ll have some editorial control.
The Road to Thought Leadership Is Long
People don’t become thought leaders overnight. Like great companies whose branding efforts build on killer products and solutions, not smoke and mirrors, aspiring thought leaders need to demonstrate that they actually get results.
It takes years to get to the point where people lend credence to what you say simply because you are who you are. That’s the way it should be. Just don’t let it dissuade you from laying the groundwork now. The destination is well worth the journey.