Posts Tagged eminence

Stop talking, start doing.

Posted by on Thursday, 6 March, 2014

IMG_0562“How do we get employees engaged in social business?”

That is one of the top questions I am asked directly inside and outside of my present company. While the strategic and logistic answers to this question can be rather complex, it is also based in simplicity: stop talking about it, just start doing it.

When it comes to social business engagement, there comes a time when, as strategists, we talk about it all far too much and don’t follow up with any action… and when individual contributors need to stop just listening and start learning while doing. Enablement sessions, slide decks, conference calls, and email threads won’t get us any closer to being socially engaged. So, instead of talking about what we need to do, we need to just start doing it. Leading by example is the first step in driving this kind of organizational change.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Oddly enough, it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, it also takes quite a bit of work, but ultimately getting started and continuing is easy enough. There is no social channel out there that is so complex that you can’t learn it in an afternoon and master it within a week of using it once daily. Even GooglePlus, the most lamented and derided social channel out there takes relatively little effort to understand and maybe an afternoon of reading blog posts to master.

Now, I’m not urging you to get started here. I am telling you this is a necessity to survive. This isn’t just a nice to have anymore; this is the new way of business. As a company, you need to be engaged and involved in dialog with your customers. As individuals we need to be visible, professionally, to stand out and build our careers. I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in tone this blog has taken over the past few years, moving from a personal journal to more of a professional platform; I can assure you this has directly and positively impacted my own career in social business to great effect.

I’ve spoken before on some of the fears that keep people from engaging in social business. Rather than re-addressing those, I’ll put forth this Call to Action, this simple challenge to help you become more social:

  • Create your own GooglePlus account.
  • Circle me.
  • Say hello.
  • Begin sharing like you would on Facebook (interesting articles, opinion/commentary).
  • Circle more of your friends and colleagues as you find them and as they join.

If you take the above steps, I will promise you this: I will engage with you and help you master G+ within a week, you will begin to have more engaged conversations, and your network will continue to grow organically after that week. All of this will result in helping you become more confident and at ease with being active within the social business atmosphere.

But why GooglePlus, I hear you ask? Many people see G+ as a ghost town, an empty social channel where only Googlers are talking to themselves. Well, if we assume that is the case, then what better place to take those first steps where no one will be around to see you falter? You can post to your heart’s content without fear of saying the wrongs things since “no one” will really see it….
That’s a misconception, of course, as there is a LOT of activity on G+; so much so that my own streams have as much content shared in them as I see on Facebook now…. Where G+ shines in this case, however, is for new users who may be wary of becoming social in a professional realm, is in the use of circles. With GooglePlus circles you can share content with only select people, thus reducing the chance that something you say may be seen by the “wrong” people. It allows you to ease into social sharing until you’re comfortable enough with posting publicly so your posts can have far greater visibility.

Of course, once you’re comfortable on G+ and start your own blog, you can easily enable your Google Authorship to help increase your blog’s SEO (search engine optimization) and connect your profile with the content you create. It is a beautiful, organic win that will help build your own eminence in the digital spaces as you grow in social business expertise and skills.

A year from now, you’ll look back and be happy you started today. Keep putting it off and you’ll have wished you’d started ten years ago…. Don’t miss this opportunity to begin building your own influence. Culture change through leading by example; that  is how you drive deeper engagement among all levels of your organization.


On the value of thought leadership

Posted by on Thursday, 23 June, 2011

It is no secret that anyone working in the social business world struggles daily with how to measure value and return on their investment (ROI) in the space. If we can figure out how to effectively measure our work and translate it into monetary value, we’re golden. Come up with a nice easy formula in the support space to show avoided cost, something like: “total clicks to payload x success indicator x %clients who would call = avoided call ticket x cost per case = avoided cost”  and you’ve got your end of story, right?

Well, not so fast (you knew I wasn’t going to let you go that easily right?). What about measuring those intangibles I spoke of in my earlier post here? How can you effectively measure thought leadership and eminence in the industry? Or rather, and perhaps more importantly, is the value of being a thought leader more important than the simply monthly indicators of engagement and content consumption?

I’m fairly certain you can see what I’d argue here…. that thought leadership, that digital eminence is actually the primary purpose of social business, everything else we do is secondary to supporting that higher goal. Sharing our high value content? Sure, that’s an essential part of what we do…. which goes to support the end result of raising our place in the digital world and the ultimate perception that we are indeed the thought leaders in our industry.

Let me take an exampled approach here, and bear with a few assumptions along the way:
You all know I am passionate about whiskies. No arguments from any of you on that point I’m sure. Amongst my friends (outside of the actual industry) you may possibly consider me as a burgeoning thought leader when it comes to topics surrounding whiskies. But why is that? Is it simply because I consistently post a measurable number of links to quality whiskies related content? Or is it because over time I’ve consistently provided quality content related to specifics of whiskies in conjunction with other efforts I make in other spaces to learn and help teach others about this water of life? I’ll bet you’d tell me the latter of the two choices. But which of the two is more important to you? Is just receiving the content enough to warrant me as a thought leader when it comes to whisk(e)y? Again I’d wager to say, no, it isn’t. Thought leadership is critical to what my boss recently described as “compounded interest”. Which makes perfect sense to me.

Continuing with the example…  let me ask; is my thought leadership in the whiskies world of benefit to you? My guess here is that it is, but only when you need it. I am often asked by friends and family for recommendations of whiskies to give as gifts; and I am happy to oblige, especially since answering those questions typically helps me learn and stay up to date on pricing changes and allows me to hone my skills at choosing decent drams. But it is only important to you because the issue on your plate is what bottle to buy for your friend. If you weren’t in that predicament, my thought leadership in the space wouldn’t be of value to you. This exemplifies my point about thought leadership; that there is value there, possibly great value, but only in a ‘just-in-time’ ad hoc model. Right now, as I write this entry, my eminence (bear with me on that assumption) as a whiskies subject matter expert is irrelevant since I am neither posting specifically about whisky, nor is anyone presently utilizing my knowledge about the topic, so I’m not seeing value right now, nor have I over the course of this month. Last month, however, my thought leadership WAS valuable as I was able to recommend a moderately priced bottle as a gift, making a big impact upon the recipient from what I hear, but also not breaking the bank to do so. In that case, I’d say my eminence could have a direct monetary value had I not been asked and had a higher priced bottle been purchased.

My point in this is to show that thought leadership can only be built over time, and the value only seen at the whim of the client with no way to predict how or when that value will be recognized. Perhaps, in the technical support world it will be in avoiding a call ticket because a client remembered a blog post on the topic which included the answer, or perhaps it will be during a sales call when a client signs a maintenance agreement because they recognize our eminence in the space and know we can help them effectively and efficiently when they encounter difficult issues….

Thought leadership is potentially VERY valuable in these instances, but (like the above example), is not solely a product of just work in social business, rather it is a holistic drive connecting all sorts of activities which combine to build that eminence over time. Eminence which can show value in varied, unexpected ways, which can often skirt any potential to accurately measure and connect effort to value.

On personal digital eminence, an aside

Posted by on Thursday, 20 January, 2011

I’d initially intended to post here on this topic, in a more personal less work-centric method and perspective. But I quickly realized as I began writing, that the topic its self lent more readily to a professional post on “Notes from Rational Support“. This was originally posted there on Jan 20, 2011:

Personal eminence has been on my mind a bit lately, which has led me to take a few actions of my own including my individual addition of an About.Me profile to signpost my own eminence in the digital spaces. You’re going to read that phrase (digital personal eminence) a LOT below, so let me quickly define that out for you: eminence is a position of distinction or superiority. Personal digital eminence, then, is about the power of your electronic presence as a brand; your individual distinction on the web. I’m working to improve mine, and Rational Client Support’s of course, but that is easier said than done.

We all know the big brands online. I am guessing you can easily name 5 right off the top of your head without even trying. Individual -people- are a bit more difficult to identify, though I am sure you could still easily name 5 within a short amount of time. These are brands and individuals who likely have rock-star status across the globe; the ones which are known beyond social or cultural boundaries. But that is only the tip of eminence, as both brands and people need to be knowledgeable in their areas in order to really solidify their standings.

In a general context like this, it is very difficult to gain that level of eminence without being a large-scale celebrity. But what if we look at particular contexts within spaces that are important to us? The spaces in which we play on a daily basis…  Personal eminence in these contexts can be seen all around you. In the support world this is displayed by those whom are always readily answering questions or sought after for advice. Personal -digital- eminence is just as easily seen if you are involved in forums, user communities, or subscribe to blogs or RSS feeds: it is found in the people you follow, the people who are visible, the people who are always learning and more importantly -sharing- in the digital realms.

Building this personal digital eminence for yourself, however, isn’t overly difficult, and is ultimately important for you as well as for your company whether it is IBM or a small unknown start-up. Individually, personal eminence is a direct influence on career success. Now imagine a company which boasts a large number of individuals who all have some level of personal digital eminence… you’re likely imagining a very successful company that has a solid, trust-worthy brand backing it up; a company who’s name elicits that sense of reliability, much like IBM, I’m guessing.

A quick connection of the roll up from personal to corporate eminence should tell you exactly how important this can be to individuals and businesses alike. It is for this reason that I encourage everyone to join the conversations in your spaces, as yourselves; to step forward and take control of your own personal digital eminence.

Of course, participation alone isn’t enough. Not only do you need to be active in your communities and networks, but you need to be authentic as well. Don’t be afraid to stand out as a subject matter expert, but don’t try and pretend you’re one if you aren’t. Take criticisms in stride and admit mistakes when they happen (oh, and they will happen). Be open and honest with your opinions, and listen to others as well. Genuine communication is not only a key to building eminence, but also a good life skill as well! Of course, it is this kind of authenticity paired with activity which will skyrocket your personal digital eminence to new heights, improving your company’s brand eminence as well as your own career.

I’ll ask you now to heed this as a call to action for both IBMers and the public alike: Get out there and distinguish yourself in -your- space. Be passionate, become the subject matter experts, give back to the communities and forums you frequent, and become your own individual brand. Only you can control your personal digital eminence, but it can benefit so many more!

Image credit: (cc) flickr user RambergMediaImages