People like to deal with people

May 22, 2024

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In the following interview, André Santos shares his expert insights on building a personal brand and reveals his 5-step method to help anyone thrive on LinkedIn.

1. You’ve grown a huge following on social media – especially LinkedIn. What’s your secret?

Yes, I’ve gone up from 1k to 370k followers in four years. Sometimes even I don’t believe it. When I realized I could monetize my LinkedIn, I decided to treat it as business and even booked slots on my agenda to create content, interact with people, and approach decision makers. I found it was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So, my secret is: [Discipline + Method].

2. For readers wanting to boost their personal or corporate brand, what’s your best advice?

One of the big mistakes I made at first was to think that building a personal or corporate brand was something fast. On the contrary, it’s a slow process, which requires daily work. My best tip is: You’re a brand, too. Have you thought about that? Take care of your personal brand as much as the corporate brand where you work for.

Your personal brand will follow you throughout your entire professional life, whether in a large company, or in your own. A strong personal brand will attract customers to business and talented people to your company.



3. What would you tell people to focus on as a starting point if they want to build a personal brand?

First, have a complete and attractive LinkedIn profile. It should communicate in thirty seconds what you do and the problem you solve for whoever’s reading it.

Some questions can help you do that, such as which job function best defines you? What other words define you as a person and professional? What are your passions and motivation? What do you want to leave as a legacy in the world? What will be your digital positioning/reputation? How would you like to be recognized and remembered? What awards, recognitions, and metrics can you include in your profile to create authority? Enter keywords that reflect your persona and make it easier to be found through keywords in Google.

4. Can you offer an example of a universal lesson that anyone can apply?

Yes, people like to deal with people. It happens everywhere, including personal or professional, physical or virtual environments. One of the reasons I became known at LinkedIn was daily sharing my life and career challenges.

I shared my own difficulties and how I overcame them. Many people empathized and decided to follow me. I also learned a lot from their stories. In the end, what engages is not technical publications, but humanized ones. Remember that no one wants to interact with brands or logos. People want to find real people and inspiring stories!



5. What people come to mind as examples of stellar personal branders?

I like following some LinkedIn influencers, such as Richard Branson, Adam Grant, Bill Gates, Daniel Goleman and Simon Sinek, among others. Why is that? They’re leaders who transcend the boundaries of their own companies and inspire millions of people. They write about their businesses, but also about personal aspects of life.

For example, the other day I saw a picture of Richard Branson at his hotel enjoying a rainbow in the sky (43k likes), Bill Gates showing a picture of his father with Nelson Mandela (47k likes), and a lecture by Simon Sinek on purpose (33k likes). Stories are powerful magnets for empathy and connection.

6. How do you communicate your values in the best possible way when you work with personal and/or corporate branding? How to prevent values from turning into clichés?

One day I saw a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek on Start with Why. That was an aha moment. I realized I was still stuck in my ‘what’ and ‘how’, but I had no idea of my ‘why’.

I looked for answers and talked to a lot of people. I studied and tried to hear my intuition. One day, I took a blank sheet, an old pen and started writing: 

a) What have people always said I did well? 

b) What did they like the most about me? 

c) What gave me more pleasure doing and put me on a flow state? 

Words such as ‘relationship, empathy, help, connection, belonging, community’ emerged. I was astonished that none of them were hard skills, but soft skills. Those were my values.


Two woman camping, drinking a hot beverage and laughing together


If you want to communicate your personal or corporate values without being clichés, I suggest you start asking these three questions, too.

7. What’s your ‘why’?

As a LinkedIn Top Voice, my ‘why’ is helping C-level executives and brand ambassadors strengthen their personal and corporate branding, increasing their influence, and doing business on LinkedIn. My mission is to help awaken the better version of yourself and communicate it on LinkedIn.

8. Data shows that 60% of a purchase decision is made before the 1st contact. What does this mean for people wanting their sales efforts to have the highest possible impact?

This is very important. Almost all potential clients will study you and your company before reaching out, including your LinkedIn profile and your content. No one likes talking to sellers, but everyone likes hearing an expert.

As a salesman, I’ve also made mistakes, such as thinking that selling was introducing myself to a decision-maker and asking for a 30-minute meeting. It never worked and he couldn’t care less. Asking for a meeting requires trust and you need to build it gradually.

Therefore, never sell on the first contact. I leave a reflection. What are you doing today to show yourself as an expert so that these ‘60% of the purchase decision before the 1st contact’ are the best possible experience for your future customer?

9. It’s become popular to talk about making employees become brand ambassadors. Two questions on this:

a) How do you actually do that?

b) What if your employees don’t want to be ambassadors for the brand? Should you force them to do so or only hire people in the future that can see themselves as future ambassadors?



Along the last five years daily training several companies on LinkedIn, Influence, Personal Branding & Social Selling, I’ve created a five-step method to help anyone thrive on LinkedIn and become a brand ambassador:

1. Have an attractive and complete profile: In thirty seconds, who are you and what problem do you solve for others?

2. Expand your network and influence the market: Invite people who can help you in your career and/or business.

3. Make genuine interactions and be reminded: Like/comment posts of your target audience and interact on your own.

4. Create content with high engagement: Share personal and professional posts at least three times a week. Explore the various LinkedIn formats (posts, articles, polls, photos, videos, etc.).

5. Approach decision makers with high conversion: Break the ice, mention their posts/articles, share tips, and insights. Only sell when you’ve generated minimal confidence.

Being a brand ambassador is a personal decision and cannot be imposed by any company. Instead, show what your employee gets by becoming an ambassador (ex: prestige, reputation, digital influence). Actually, using LinkedIn is a win-win business. Sales does business, marketing strengthens branding, HR attracts talent, and each employee strengthens his/her personal branding.

10. This book is about impact. What is impact to you?

For me, impact is inspiring or transforming someone’s life, whether in personal or professional field. This can be done with an inspiring post or articles, with a friendly word or simply replying to a private message with encouraging words. You don’t have to impact millions to become an Influencer. If you impact one person a day, you’re already creating impact.

About the author

André Santos is a LinkedIn Top Voice, LinkedIn Creator, Top 20 Influencers by iBest Award and the only Brazilian chosen as 30 LinkedIn Global Influencers by Engati. Post-graduated in Business Administration, he has 38-year career and has been working for twenty years as a mentor and speaker in social selling, personal branding & influence on LinkedIn. He has trained and mentored 20 000 professionals in ten countries and given interviews to Record News, Época Negócios, and BBC Brazil.

André Santos

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