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How’s business this year? Are your revenue numbers up, flat or falling? You know this may have more to do with you than you think. Yes, you’re the leader and you know more about your product or service than anyone else, but guess what – if no one knows who you are, you may be inconsequential. You may be damaging your own business.

By the way, pretending this conversation is not on your mind and ignoring it is also not in your best interest. I encourage you to read on.

As the CEO, president, business owner or entrepreneur of a start-up or a Fortune 100 company your digital presence, and ultimately, your professional brand makes a difference in your business. Social savviness is good for you and your business. Your social savviness helps you shape the narrative, the conversation and the view others have of you and your organization.

More and more I read in the Wall Street Journal and other publications; “So and so’s LinkedIn profile shows xxxx”. Is “xxxx” correct? If journalists, bloggers and others doing due diligence about you and your organization consider LinkedIn a go-to resource, shouldn’t you and your folks?

Social savviness is the equivalent of CEO sociability. Sociability is not a new word, it’s first known use was in the 15th century. There may be new venues for social behavior and interaction but all business is built on social interaction. Sociability is the act or instance of being social. Social is defined:

  • liking to be with and talk to people: happy to be with people
  • of or relating to people or society in general

Nancy Dearman writes in Forbes about the 5 Key Skills Every New CEO Needs and each of them involves leading and influencing in a fast changing world. Each of them requires sociability. Your ability to lead and have others follow is paramount to your success. In the Social CEO: Executives Tell All, page after page outlines the tangible and intangible gained through your greater sociability. Forget the notion of social media and think influence, transparency and scale. We are not talking tween-fixated social misguidance, we are talking human-to-human outreach and potential thought and subject matter expertise sharing.

You’ve spent countless hours, dollars and energy building your organization’s products, services, competitive position, talent, client relationships, strategic partnerships, training programs and website. You may feel confident you look good and your business looks good. You need to step back. Google yourself, not your business. Google your name. What comes up? Anything surprising?

Clearly your website should be high in the search. Your LinkedIn profile, if you have one, might be one, two or three in the rankings. If it’s LinkedIn, do you look good? Or, is your profile an anemic, haphazard, half-filled-out view of you?

Why does it matter? You matter. You’re the face of the organization. You can’t hide behind your company any longer. It’s not worth it. You can claim privacy but it’s not worth it. It doesn’t hold water any longer. And, the upside to building your digital profile or brand out helps your organization.

Social media has exploded faster than understanding and training on why you need it and how to use it. Understanding this is half the battle. And, realizing it’s not actually relevant whether you like social or not.

Let’s first look at how LinkedIn and social media platforms benefit your business.

1. You’ve worked hard to develop your story. You know it’s a multi-channel world and that others are not going to work to find you and your business. They expect to find you, where they are. If you’re not where they are, you may not have the opportunity to start the conversation.

2. You realize your website, one of many channels, is not necessarily the place you will be found. You will need to lead people to your site and social channels, serve as a bridge to your website and provide more information about who you and your business are.

3. Your customers, prospects, suppliers, investors, advisors, strategic partners and employees want to know who they are working with and for beyond their immediate point of contact. Each audience is critical to your business’ market share, reputation, revenue and future growth. This is especially true for those who are younger (under 40). If your buyers are under 40 and you’re not easily findable and relatable, you may render yourself obsolete.

4. LinkedIn and other social platforms let you leverage their enormous platforms to extend your reach to a much larger audience comprised of others who may be potentially interested in you and your business. Your communication and PR efforts go further on these platforms. Your content (you have original content, right?) helps you create competitive distinction and thought leadership.

5. You update your logo, your website, your swag and apparel. What about your social platforms? Being current and innovative is important, especially in mature industries. (You want to recruit future employees, right)? We live in a culture that reinforces relevance and looking good.

6. Your employees are probably social and they should expect their leadership to be as well. Building a culture of employee advocates via social benefits current and future employees.

In fact, if your marketing and sales folks aren’t using social to build their brands and your business, they are most likely deferring to you as the reason they don’t have to worry about it. If leaders don’t lead socially, it may only be important to particular individuals, not the organization.

Among executives with social CEOs, there are resounding internal benefits (and room for improvement)

  • 52% are inspired by their CEO
  • 46% consider them technologically advanced
  • 41% are proud of their CEO

Their executives consider them to be better leaders and communicators. Clearly, actually being a better leader and communicator is the goal. Moving forward, your job may depend on this.

Five steps toward social savviness.

1. As the CEO you need a strategy; a plan that serves your organization and fits your style and a stretched comfort level. Mostly, you need to begin to reconsider your view. Move from this “social media thing” to developing new channels in business media.

2.  Be okay with not being a tech-geek, you only need to be tech-proficient and open-minded. You may or may not choose to be the person who handles your LinkedIn and social media.  Decide who will help you with being more proficient (two thoughts: Two-Way Mentoring—A Framework for Success and How To Choose the Right LinkedIn Trainer ). Don’t ask your fabulous executive assistant who has never even opened LinkedIn. It’s not fair of you to expect that he/she will understand it any more than you do. At the very least, choose carefully who handles LinkedIn and your social channels for you (more on this in a future post).

3. Go for the long play. Setting up and either tiptoeing or diving in once or twice will not create the results we know you can achieve. Take a time-measured approach; a pre-determined amount of time (twenty minutes) three times a week. (Yes, you can choose Saturday and/or Sunday). Do specific things for a specific reason.

4. Notice quick wins and build on them. Who are your salespeople having trouble getting in front of? Who’s gone dark on them? Which clients are need of a bit of remediation? See if you can help by reaching out, Connecting with them and starting a conversation on LinkedIn, at the very least.

5.  As a resource we are including some of our more popular past posts focused on CEOs. I’ve looked at the up and downsides of you being on LinkedIn and other channels and will continue to do so. In my next blog post I’ll be ruminating on The Paranoid CEO. Sign up to receive our blogs so you don’t miss it.

You see, none of this is to bolster your ego. It’s okay to be a private person. It makes sense that this is difficult. Actually, none of this is for you. As a leader who serves an array of constituencies and communities, it’s your job to be available, seen and ready to engage.