Leveraging Social Media: A Leadership Imperative

LinkedIn. Twitter. Facebook.  Anyone not familiar with these and the myriad other social networking sites has likely spent the past several years not just living in a cave, but quite possibly in the outermost regions of the Andromeda galaxy!  They are all around us, intertwined in any growing and vibrant organization.

And while the use of these tools is steadily growing, there remains some fundamental confusion about the true value of each unique site.  I’m not going to claim to be a social media guru, mind you.  But I field a lot of questions in the course of my transition coaching about using the three listed above.  So, let me give you my take.

I love this visual.  In fact, it’s been a running joke in our house since my wife was given a t-shirt with the logo (Despair.com is a fantastic resource for the irreverent social and organizational commentary!).

Nearly everyone has a Facebook site these days (although, thankfully, my mom still refuses to buy into the hype).  And certainly the narcissistic, stalking possibilities through that site do exist.  But more and more professionals are understanding the role of Facebook for promulgating their personal brand.  It’s much more than a place to report to friends that last night’s party totally rocked!  Instead, particularly as increasing numbers of work colleagues “friend” you, Facebook becomes yet another platform for sharing relevant and vital resources to others.

My personal favorite is LinkedIn, which entered the IPO realm with quite the splash this past week.  Overvalued by tech investors or not, the site is one of the most powerful tools for building and shaping your personal brand.  To accomplish that, however, one needs to shed the notion that LinkedIn is merely a repository of resumes.  Sure, your work experience is typically listed, but if you’ve neglected the site because you’re fully satisfied with your current employment situation and not looking for other opportunities, you’ve completely shortchanged LinkedIn’s true value.  In fact, through groups, polls, and the various applications that are emerging, LinkedIn has become a knowledge resource and sharing instrument with thousands of your most skilled, thoughtful, and experienced “friends.”

And then there is Twitter…the notorious playground of such visionary social giants as Ashton Kuchar and Jessica Simpson.  In all seriousness, however, there is no better social media site, in my opinion, for quickly and efficiently perusing hundreds of current and highly relevant blogs and online journal articles.  After all, why rely on just your own research time and abilities to find what’s out there on virtually any topic.  Let the masses produce and disseminate to your desktop the latest and greatest ideas from established and emerging thought leaders in your field.

“But I don’t have time to mess with all this social media….”  How many times have you heard someone say that? (We’ll pretend you haven’t said that yourself!).  Quite honestly, in today’s environment of rapid change, if you can’t take the 15-20 minutes daily to leverage these tools, you’re probably not reading this blog even.  So, make no mistake about it…leaders who wish to be relevant in the years to come are making the time.  The question, then, is if  you will be one of those leaders?  If not, don’t despair, though.  Social media savvy leaders will still need followers….

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