Work engagements – jobs, top management positions, consulting gigs – are no longer secure. As the current recession has shown (again), loyalty to your job does not always mean that the Company’s promises are kept. Capital commitments from investors not yet in the bank often mean your start-up will be left without the cash. Newly-recruited executives are expected to create miracle turn-arounds at struggling corporations in less than two years. Employees are doing the work of their entire staff for half-pay. Others vested for retirement are being left without their rightful pensions.
In a world where we are increasingly free-agents (whether we like it or not), our networks –social, digital, professional – are our baselines and our lifelines. And we own our network – no one else does. It comes with us more surely than our health insurance. And, well tended, our networks last throughout our lives, supporting us in good times and bad.
Business is based on relationships – whether it is the “old school” on the golf course, or the social media sites on our mobiles. These intensely private and public networks help us sustain and grow our careers, help our businesses scale and penetrate niche and world markets at a fraction of their earlier costs, and allow our enterprises to compete in a new and faster way against an increasingly competitive, disruptive and encroaching world market.
These networks create, sustain and intensify our connections with our colleagues, clients, customers, prospects, managers, partners, employers/employees, investors, potential exit partners, in fact, to all the stakeholders connected to our businesses.
Now is the time to master all the various networks and tools that will matter to you and your professional future: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, podcasting, wikis and the rest. (I have a new list of 26 types of social networks and media – even I am vague on a few of the recent ones).
You must learn not only how to use these networks and tools. You must approach all of them strategically, so that you can align several together in collaboration to support your current message and to reach your objectives.
This is the secret: you must know which networks and tools support your unique message and positioning to which audiences, then develop each message for each tool, and use them all in a strategy for the best results.
This skill in leveraging these networks and tools will be invaluable to you now and in the years to come, every time you need to reposition yourself, your business, your exit, or your enterprise’s goals.
Consider this, which has already begun:
Investors will review your company’s networks before responding to your business plan and request for a meeting.
Exit partners will assess your established presence in the social media networks as part of reviewing your proposed valuation.
Competitors worldwide will use these cost-effective tools and networks to attack your market share with new disruptive products and services in your market segment.
Clients will review your social media presence before contacting you to consult. Some will go only to your Linkedin profile, ignoring your website.
Employers and recruiters will access your social networks before inviting you to an interview. Be careful what you post for public viewing.
Your skill in developing and strategically deploying these social networks and tools is the fundamental calling card for your company’s success, and your future employment and advancement.