Online social networks are changing how businesses and their leaders communicate and leverage their most valuable asset: their relationships.
In this series of articles, entitled New Rules of Engagement, I profile a business leader that I have observed to be using social networks actively and effectively in their leadership role.
This week I talk with Julie Littlechild, founder and CEO of If Not Now Research.
Jay Palter (JP): Why do you invest your limited time to engage in social networks?
Julie Littlechild (JL): I truly believe that this is one of the best ways to build the business. It’s not easy but it allows me to engage with clients and prospective clients and demonstrate some value in the process. It’s all about giving before you take, perhaps more so now than ever, so this is how I try to give something to an audience and, hopefully, demonstrate the value of what we do. That said, it’s not easy and staying up to date is a constant struggle. Ultimately, this is about prioritizing my time.
JP: What social networks or tools do you consider essential and why?
JL: I focus on LinkedIn and Twitter and also my blog. My blog is the most important thing I do because I consider it my home base – the thing I truly own and an expression of what I’m trying to do. My thinking is that I can’t be an expert on all networks, so I should focus on those where my audience lives. I tend to get the most engagement from LinkedIn and, to a lesser extent, Twitter. As the business expands we are considering Facebook, but likely as a way to share different kinds of information, such as our charitable efforts.
JP: What techniques or habits have you developed to make time in your busy schedule for social?
JL: Here are some techniques that have worked for me:
- I subscribe to feeds that deliver consistently great content. Your Twitter feed is one of those. Caroline Adams Miller is another. Michael Kitces and Michael Hyatt also come to mind. My view is that if I personally want to read almost every article the person curates, then it will probably be of interest to the people that follow me.
- I schedule a single tweet multiple times with slightly different headlines and descriptions.
- I create a time block to review LinkedIn and Twitter and schedule multiple posts at a time.
- I try to live tweet at interesting events because it gets a lot of pick-up and attention.
JP: What specific benefits would you attribute to your social networking activities?
JL: I am focusing my business internationally. I have had more than one person reach out on the basis of social activity to provide (positive) feedback on what is being shared. I would never have met these individuals otherwise. I have found speaking opportunities based entirely on connections I have made via social networks.
JP: What’s one piece of advice that you have for your peers about social networking?
JL: Know where your audience lives and focus your limited time and energy there. Make it a priority and block your time to invest in social networks. Find your human voice and lose the corporate voice. Be personal and authentic.
Julie touches on one of my favourite themes of social networking: Giving to get. Too many people start out in social networks with the attitude: what can it do for me? Yet, the best results and the greatest return on investment comes from approaching social as a giver. A giver or value. A giver of knowledge. Someone willing to help and share openly. When you make this investment in your online social network, you will reap far greater rewards.
I also like the comments at the very end: be human. People are seeking out other people online. Find a professional way to be human, to be yourself, and let your personality show through. Great advice!