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Preparing for Social Success

This blog originally appeared on ASUG’s Leadership 2.0.

Perhaps my favorite moment at ASUG Annual Conference this year was when Olympic gold medalist and WNBA superstar Lisa Leslie shared the “7 Ps” that her mother instilled in her as a child – “Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” It was a humorous moment but also amazing to learn that this phrase stuck with Lisa all these years. Personally, I had never thought too much about the role “preparation” plays in our lives.

Following the event, I spent a lot of time thinking about the 7 Ps – how they relate to our business lives and how important it is to be prepared when the right opportunity comes your way. In the connected world we live in this translates to ensuring the right people know who you are, what you do, and what you are capable of so when they need an expert or partner – they know where to find you. I call this your “social brand.” 

Someone once told me that they weren’t active in social networks because they didn’t see a need to build their personal brand. I disagree. A strong personal brand in the social space can help you both professionally and personally. Being a thought leader in your area of expertise can lead to networking, career opportunities, and relationships that were never possible before.  In social networks, we all have the opportunity to showcase our passion and knowledge with a greater community.

There’s no better proof than when we see our own C-level leaders active in social media. Heck, even the President has a Twitter handle. Leaders today know that social networks are a place where they can share knowledge with and connect with those influencers who are most important to their business and also build their personal brands. For some, a brand evolves organically…but for the rest of us, it takes time and effort build our personal social brands.

Here are three steps to help you start building your brand in social media:

1. Find your passion.

What is important to you? Is it your company, your industry? How about coaching, running, or your football team? Regardless of the  topics that inspire us, we can all be part of the conversation. Spend time thinking about who you are and what you want your name to represent.

2. Find your community.

We all know there is strength in numbers but what does that mean for our social brands? Take the user group community as an example. As an SAP point of contact for the ASUG community, I see first-hand how the community influences SAP and really enables our company to “run better.” Another strong community is the SAP Community Network (SCN). Mark Yolton, SAP’s SVP of SAP Communities and Social Media says in this interview, “…there’s also an energy that comes with connectedness; members are energized by each other, the back-and-forth of interaction, the excitement and enthusiasm, and the feeling of being part of something bigger and more important than each of us individually … it’s a contagious excitement and an immeasurable but palpable sense of belonging and shared value.”

The passion I see from the ASUG volunteers and the SCN participants is indeed contagious – I try to bring this unbridled enthusiasm to my daily work – both personally and professionally. Find the community of people around the topics that you are passionate about – you can do this on Twitter, Facebook, SCN, and nearly all social networks. Start by listening to the discussion and when you are ready…

3. Find your voice.

Perhaps the most difficult part is putting yourself out there – sharing and engaging with others. This doesn’t always come naturally. I remember sitting in front of my own Twitter screen years ago with a trembling hand – a little nervous to push “send” on my very first tweet. It seems silly now (especially since I didn’t have any followers!) and it can be overwhelming but you have to start somewhere!

Once you start engaging, be mindful of a few basics:

  • Be nice. Treat people the way you want to be treated, use your manners, and be positive. There is room for everyone’s viewpoints and opinions so be open, you might just learn something.
  • Be authentic. You are, after all, a real person so act like one. There isn’t much room for promotional messages in the social media space. Share content that is relevant.
  • Be consistent. Keep your profiles consistent across all social networks so people get to know you.
  • Be legal. Make sure your follow your corporate policies on social media, especially around disclosure. And don’t say anything in social networks you wouldn’t say to your CEO – or your mom!

Speaking of mothers, thank you Lisa Leslie and thank you to your mother for the inspiration – especially on behalf of my 4 children who are starting to understand the value of preparation and the meaning behind your “7 Ps.”

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