Relationships are the lifeblood of successful business, a belief that Sam Hurley has lived by. Building connections and enhancing a personal brand also helps advance the reach of the employer.
We caught up with digital authority and social entrepreneur Sam Hurley for the latest installment in our influencer series. Sam founded OPTIM-EYEZ, a digital consulting firm, after years of experience in digital marketing. He is a cult-followed social media expert with 144K+ followers and has been ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale as well as #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica.
You started your own digital marketing/SEO consulting company - has becoming an entrepreneur affected your digital marketing techniques or even transitioned the content you put out on your personal channels to be more entrepreneurial focused?
For sure! Running your own ‘solopreneur’ business is difficult at the best of times – it really forces you to align your goals to fully focus on 1) what you’re really good at, 2) what you enjoy and 3) what works. Relationships are the lifeblood of my business. While employed, there’s less time to hone in on such relationships because you’re always juggling 50 tasks at once and it’s all in the aid of your employer. By the time you get home, you’re just exhausted.
Now, I dedicate so much time to creating and strengthening bonds and that is what I thoroughly enjoy. The results are unquestionable – opportunity after opportunity knocks on the door every single day and when you have that; link building, content marketing, influencer relations and enquiries flow naturally. It all feels much less forced now I am my own boss.
In terms of content, I’ve published a few entrepreneurial articles for those who are in the same situation I was just a few months ago (pondering ‘the big leap’). The pieces have received great feedback so far - I tried to include everything I would have liked to have known before I handed in my notice!
I’d say there have been approximately 100 people who have requested advice on the topic since I began promoting such material...it’s a very rewarding feeling to be able to offer support and guidance for their exciting but challenging journey ahead.
You built your personal/professional brand while employed full-time in your previous position. Do you think that growing a personal professional image is a concept that is significant even for people not looking to start their own venture?
Hell yeah! It really is about time all businesses started to grasp this – personal branding is one of the most powerful marketing techniques, alongside user-generated content. All the bosses out there need to embrace their employees (not literally) and actually encourage them to promote themselves in this way. Why? Because it has remarkable potential to bring leads and sales into the business. I can confirm that from experience!
Customers and clients don’t want faceless companies. They want to interact with real people and if those people happen to be star employees holding influence and a solid online presence, credibility and trust in the business is multiplied ten-fold. It’s understandable for traditional bosses to feel slightly apprehensive about the whole concept...but your employees are your best asset and should be utilised as such. Not only is it a great move for business growth, it also provides staff with incredible rewards and a sense of achievement. It’s a loyalty machine!
Now, if you are ‘the boss’ and worried about your staff building their personal brands, just consider this...you have two scenarios:
1) The employee is a high-flyer. They will end up running their own business one day. If you try to prevent them from spreading their wings...you only dishearten them, push them out and lose their talent, instead of bringing them on and letting them simultaneously boost your business presence, as well as their own.
2) The employee is quite happy where they are. They have no ambition to start up on their own, yet they are excited about building a personal brand. Why not make the most of this and encourage them to do so? It will pay huge dividends for both parties and typically, they won’t want to go anywhere else!
A no-brainer if you ask me...
What is the most significant lesson (s) in terms of building connections and/or starting a business, that you would pass along for aspiring digital influencers/entrepreneurs?
The best move you can make before starting a business is to build solid connections with influential people. You need to hustle but you must also be courteous and respectful of their time. These people can aid you so much on your journey, help you make important decisions and get you up the ladder faster than otherwise possible. It doesn’t matter what your industry – there will be somebody you can reach out to as a mentor. As long as you can help them out some way in return, you’ll be onto a winner. It’s always a two-way street. Never expect something for nothing...
A real great guy who was there with me through the very beginning of my entrepreneurial process is Matthew Capala. We have a tight relationship and I can’t speak highly enough of him. My other piece of advice is simply: make things happen. It’s great thinking up all these cool ideas but what matters is execution. Dreams are nothing without implementation!
Choose 5 priorities which will return the most revenue OR best opportunities. Focus on the top 3. Only look at the bottom 2 if any of the others are on hold due to external factors you can't control i.e. awaiting a response.
Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking digital marketer holding 6+ years’ self-expedited experience in both agency and client-side settings before launching his own digital consultancy venture: OPTIM-EYEZ.
He has achieved success for SMEs, national to international blue chip organisations while being ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale and #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica. He was also recently commended as one of the top 3 content marketing influencers of 2016 by ScribbleLive.
Catch him on Twitter for heaps of helpful tweets on entrepreneurship and marketing!