It is amazing to look back how the world has changed in respect to how we connect with people and how we can become influencers in our network. I stated already back in 2007 in my first business book (“Become successful in the big World”) that anybody can become an influencer in a topic that he/she wants to master. When I was growing up, you could become an influencer mainly by participating in conferences or via traditional press. Today, anyone can demonstrate deep skills in any topic and become known globally. There are still some rules that I think one needs to consider when branding your skills. The first rule is that you need to make sure that you pick the segment where you want to be known for. I have seen too many cases where a person is “all over the map” and even I know a person by name, I really do not know what he/she represents. With focus, you can become world known as anything that you do and sometimes it takes years of practice. Think about a gymnast, a dancer, or anybody that is top in his/her domain. You have to practice your skills to become good in what you do. During my career as CEO of a software company in Finland, I recruited people to the team and I asked them if they wanted to become best in the world in what they do. There are no reasons why somebody could not become best in the world regardless of where you live. We will see new innovative entrepreneurs everywhere and only time will tell who will become leader in the field.
Let’s discuss how I have tried to change my way of thinking when it comes to learning and my social network. The past couple of years, I have specifically paid attention on how to become more effective in my personal working habits. How do I sell, how do I connect people and how do I maintain all of these relationships? I have learned with time that it is your connection that matters as well as focus that you put in our daily work. You need to define how you want to be seen in the marketplace as people tend to “position” each one of us based on what they have seen in social media and other interaction. I am pretty sure that my network knows my passion for SaaS business, my continuous travel I have made during the past few years and it goes without saying, people know that I work with Microsoft and Microsoft ecosystem on daily basis. People might also know that I am a passionate learner and believe in continuous learning to keep myself valuable for my clients and the ecosystem. That is why it is so important to keep focus on whatever we do. You do not want to be everything to everybody as that will not do any good to anybody. People might also know that I am passionate about my family and this is especially important to me as we live far away from our native country (Finland). We have established our lives here in the United States of America and we love every day of it. It is not to say that one needs to forget our roots, but I feel that US gave us a second opportunity to build something that is different and sometimes also challenging.
I must admit that I also evaluate people based on their digital footprint. If you are in sales roles and have 58 contacts in LinkedIn, that gives me a picture of your interest in using social media as a vehicle to get your company known. The first thing people do when you mention a name is that they will check your LinkedIn profile to see who you know and what kind of recommendations you have. If you have 58 contacts and no digital footprint, I have no way to evaluate your impact and influence. I know there are many that do not believe in this, but unfortunately this is a similar discussion as whether the cloud will happen… it has already happened and if you are a software vendor and still only considering it, you will have younger and nimbler competitors that will start eating you up piece by piece. I had a discussion with an executive recruiter a couple of years ago and I asked him whether digital footprint mattered, and he said already then that a person that they are considering in sales and marketing executive roles will have a problem if digital footprint is non-existent.
Social networking brings in other factors that people do not always remember. You need to value your network as if it were an asset. You do not misuse your asset, you do not put your network in painful situations and you certainly do not spam your network with nonsense. As I have a pretty broad network, I get continuously requests to make introduction to senior level executives that are part of my network. My answer is typically that I will not make an introduction until I know the reason for the introduction as I know that my network knows that I respect them. If I do an introduction, my network also knows that it might be worthwhile to do something about it.
How are you building your future in respect to social networks and have you learned how to be effective in it? I am in the process of testing some interesting tools that use social networks as a resource. I think sales is also changing and each one of us has to evaluate whether we are up-to-date how we go about our daily lives.