If you’re a latecomer to social networking and want to leverage these tools for your business, I have some news for you.
Building online influence is hard work. It takes time and persistence.
No matter how experienced you are as business leader, if you’re new to social networks and the etiquette associated with their use there are some things you need to know.
Here are some tips that I consistently advise my executive clients to pay attention to:
1. Earn your stripes
As an executive and/or accomplished business leader, you’ve paid your dues. You’ve worked hard to build your achievements using your talents and experience.
This is why it may come as a bit of a shock to discover that in the online world, you don’t have the same status that you have in the real, offline world.
If you want to grow your influence in social networks, you’re going to have to earn it. Bear down and focus on building the social networking skills that will help you achieve online what you may already have achieved offline.
2. Mind your brand
As tempting as it may seem, you can’t just hire someone else to build your online brand and take a back seat. You need to invest your self in building an effective personal brand – and no one can do that better than you.
Everything you do in social networks informs your personal brand.
- Do your comments add value?
- Do you find and share compelling content?
- Are you responsive when people reach out to you?
- Are you always promoting yourself or do you pay attention to others?
- Do you use good grammar and show attention to detail?
- Even your choice whether or not to be “hands-on” in your social networking is a reflection on your brand and priorities.
Take time to determine your personal brand characteristics and then develop a conscious plan to be that person consistently in all your online interactions.
3. Leverage your opportunities
As a senior business leader, your job likely includes opportunities to meet other influencers on a regular basis. Perhaps you are speaking at conferences or sharing the stage with prominent speakers at high profile events.
Take advantage of these opportunities to grow your online audience and influence through real-time engagement. And there’s no better tool for that than Twitter. Prepare yourself before these events to do some online research find the Twitter handle of the speaker you will be introducing, then plan a few tweets to send during the event. Make sure to mention the speaker in a complimentary way in your messaging.
4. Balance personal and professional
Social technologies are destroying (or have already levelled) most of the barriers between our personal and professional lives. Most successful social networkers will acknowledge that their success comes from how well they learn to balance these two factors. They learn how to be be human and to be themselves, while not straying into the “too much information” zone. While the precise balance will be different for everyone, I recommend being mindful of these guidelines to keep you on course:
- Focus more on activities you love and less on the material aspects of pursuing those activities (eg., talk about your love for golfing, not about your fancy new clubs or extravagant golf vacation).
- Focus more on the feelings you have for important people in your life and less on the private details of those people’s lives (eg., share feelings about spending time with your kids, not the details of their personal lives).
- Focus more on the community issues and organizations that are close to your heart and less on the religious or political organizations you support (eg., talk about volunteering at the local food bank, not about your views on the politics of poverty).
5. Mind your P’s and Q’s
Social networks are about communication. Writing well and spelling correctly increases the clarity and effectiveness of your communication.
Your message is not just a function of what you say, but how you say it. Be careful to spell words properly and avoid careless typos. Twitter and text messaging have spawned a short form idiom that can be tempting to use because of its social currency and brevity. But be careful that your language is reflecting your personal and corporate brands appropriately.
6. Rely on a support team
Build a team around you to support your social networking activities. Your support team should do just that – support YOU in your social networking, not pretend to be you in important online interactions. Your team can and should help you with the following:
- Finding and sharing great content
- Identifying key influencers
- Identifying opportunities to like and comment on other people’s shared content
- Monitoring your social accounts for engagement opportunities
- Monitoring your engagement metrics
Thinking of jumping into the deep end and immersing yourself in social networks? I can teach you to swim. Call me.