As a leader or executive, social media looks very different. It can be a hole in the armor where unwanted requests and disturbance filter in. But the best executives in business today are leveraging social media to work for them. With confidence and a little help, they can become part of the overall brand and create a pathway to even bigger opportunities. But do the benefits outweigh the risks? Making mistakes or missing cues on social can be costly errors. This is why so many executives these days choose to stay away from social. Regardless, there are three very important things that all executives can benefit by in using social media. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Social is table stakes in the new world of work. As time goes on, having a blank space in social media is becoming a red flag. Not only will the board and executive recruiters wonder why you eschew social, a new generation of employees, industry journalists and shareholders will start to wonder also. The basic message is, you’ve got to get involved. It is no longer optional.
  2. Being seen and heard by the team. Whether angling for a new job with a larger title or at a bigger enterprise or staying relevant in your current job, social media plays a role. Remember an entire division is counting on your leadership and you cannot be in front of everyone all the time…until now! Social affords you the opportunity to beat the drum and set the pace. Let the team know what you expect and why you expect it. Employees pay special attention to executives who lead in this fashion and they feel more connected to them and the company. It is a powerful way to build morale. When it comes to outsiders your social posts and activity are equally important. It gives them a 360-degree view of you and your style. While all these activities can and should still be done in real life, social allows those messages to exponentially expand in scope and intensity in the minds of the people you are trying to influence.
  3. Connect and grow. Executives typically have packed agendas and are constantly meeting new and important contacts. That said, there is only so much time in the day and travel is limited by the speed of jets and global time zones. These guardrails can be transcended with content on social media that works 24 hours everywhere. Connections with and conversations about opportunities on the other side of the planet can happen at any time of the day or night. Executive content and engagement on social make it easier for executives to find partners to solve big problems, opportunities to sell to new prospects and markets and even conduct a passive job search–all at the same time.

What can executives do to get in better control of social media? First, they need to spend some time at it. Busy schedules will not allow for in-depth study and use but spending a little time will open the doors to the important items listed above. Second, executives need help. Tools and people who can make sure the executive stays engaged and posting even when traveling or in back to back meetings for days on end. Successful social executives don’t go it alone but beware of totally outsourcing an online persona.

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