badgesGetting leaders to realize just how effective a commitment to social media engagement can be is a matter of understanding human behavior and resistance. The reflex response to this topic often shows up as “analysis paralysis.” The excuses for not being on any network go about like this:

“I know I should be on Twitter, but I just don’t have the time.. .”
“My team is researching the opportunities for me…”
“We don’t have the communications budget this year…”

Let me be the first to call you out on the delay tactics. The best way to fight the fear is to find your own urgency. One good way to do this is to identify a rapidly approaching event around which you’d like to increase your leadership profile, then plan your social engagement jumpstart.

Conferences = Amazing Leadership Opportunities

Whatever your business sector, we’re entering the busy conference season. In the sustainability community, for example, GreenBiz Forum (February) and Sustainable Brands (June) are just around the corner.

Most well-produced events like these have long since wisely started to encourage social sharing of speakers and attendees as the fantastic extra promotion it can be. Today’s event planners are probably giving a prospective speaker extra consideration for his/her social network connections, too. At an even more basic level, they are claiming their own hashtags and displaying Twitter boards in key positions throughout venues. And, that may just be the starting point for the ways more marketing or tech oriented events are leveraging social media. All of which leads me to believe that the opportunity in being an event influencer, no matter your field, will only grow. Will you be ready?

Let’s consider what being active on Twitter around an event could do for you:

  • Skip The Small Talk: The event cocktail parties and hallway chats can be a bit superficial, but if you are already “in conversation” on Twitter, these occasions end up being more like “old home week.” You will already be friends with so many attendees that you can more easily “dig in” to deeper, more fruitful topics and ideas.
  • Control Your Narrative: Why wait for the media to profile you or quote you on your key message? Social media (including writing blogs posts, which I don’t cover here) allows you to be proactive with your vision and insights. The authentic YOU, commenting and adding value in these digital conversations all along the way, will be laying a foundation of information that sets the tone for future interviews, meetings and collaborations.
  • Reflect Industry Relevance: When you have an established visible and active place in the social world, conference planners, writers and future collaborators can continually monitor to see whether you’d make a good fit for their event, article or project. And, anyone who scans a conference Twitter stream, specifically, can see your name, front and center, as a key player. Leave a footprint of relevance, just at the time so many are looking for content ideas, future speakers and more.
  • Become “Known”:  Actively contributing on social media can help you build a practice of being your truest professional self, continually reflecting you as an accessible business leader. It goes much beyond simply racking up followers as a status play. As a “known” entity,  you can more quickly become a trusted voice, and for a much broader than usual audience.

Doesn’t that all sound worth the effort?

Beta Test Event-Driven Leadership

The further beauty of all of this is that YOU are in control, and even a baby step into this social media world will noticeably, and pleasantly, benefit you (I can almost guarantee it). Committing to Twitter around just one short, strategic period of time – a beta test’s worth –  will help you see its incredible value for listening, learning and better leading.

Act now.  Take a look at your calendar and identify which event could be your social media catalyst in 2016. A few tips:

  • Start at least 3 months in advance, if at all possible. You need that time to follow people, get comfortable contributing to conversations, identify the key industry influencers and keywords (tags), build momentum with your shares, and, hopefully, write a few blog posts.
  • Do not hold yourself to ridiculous standards of perfection. Everyone you see using social media well had to start somewhere. You might be surprised how much people welcome your presence and cheer you on, if what I’ve noticed in the sustainability community is any indication.
  • Trick your brain into thinking of this as a one-off “event” project. Don’t let your concerns about not being able to keep up with Twitter forever keep you from trying it at all.  If this practice IS for you, you will know it quickly – and can then learn more, hire a coach and map out your strategies for managing expectations over a longer term.

Dear reader, you have nothing to lose here. Yet, there IS urgency in being one of the first in your sectors to strategically leverage social media (and Twitter specifically). If you’ve been intrigued enough to read this post, you are likely primed to give it a go.

For amplifying leadership presence, Twitter will sell itself. You just have to start.

Additional resources:

– Storify of the Twitter Leadership panel I moderated at GreenBiz Forum 2015 (great links therein).
– For information about my quick-start, event-driven leadership coaching packages, email me: andrea at learnedon dot com.
– My 2014 TriplePundit interview on the topic of using Twitter for thought leadership development purposes: