It’s a question individuals the world over are asking themselves: why, exactly, should I do as I am advised and use social networks for professional purposes? What’s in it for me?
Those whose role it is to pioneer digital transformation within a business will know that there are many answers to this question. However, they should also bear in mind that the best way of conveying those answers, and as such to maximize employees’ engagement in social business, is to lead by example.
Follow My Lead
More so than any other major change to hit business practices in recent times, social business is dependent upon strong leadership. This is because it involves using tools which, for a considerable period of time, were considered anything but productive in a professional scenario. Whereas beforehand individuals logged onto social networks furtively in order to procrastinate, they are now encouraged to spend time on social media – albeit within a work context.
Leadership is therefore crucial if this shift in culture is to be a success. Leading by example is about setting a tone; sending the message that social business is an integral part of the company workflow. Whether it’s the CEO sharing relevant industry content, HR managers communicating about internal success stories, or sales directors reaching out to prospects directly, seeing social business in action at a management level will show individual employees that the use of social networks is not only an accepted activity, but also a prioritized method of communication.
Show and Tell Do
But beyond acknowledgement of social business as a strategy, individuals need to know why it’s in their interests to use social networks for professional communication. Again, leading by example is the best way to show them. For example, when sales teams see that the sales director reaches out to prospects directly, shares insightful content and participates in pertinent conversations, and that all of this activity has a direct impact on that person’s achievement of objectives, they will be encouraged to do the same.
From an individual point of view, one of the main benefits of social business is increased employability. By sharing professional insights and expertise on social media, individuals strengthen their own profile and draw attention to their skills and development. The importance of this is not to be underestimated, given that social media is one of the primary search methods used by recruiters. Just as, traditionally, organizations have offered training programs to support employees’ professional development within the company and beyond, encouraging individuals to build a strong personal brand is a key way of supporting their long-term evolution. This begins with managers themselves taking the lead and demonstrating thought leadership on social media.
Like many things, social business cannot be implemented successfully through evangelization alone. Individuals need leaders to whom they can turn not only for the “how”, but also for the “why”. So before asking everyone in the organization to make social business a priority, companies must first make sure those in management positions lead by example.