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Internal Social Business for Leaders series: 1. Your profile

One of the most common questions executives ask as their organizations embrace internal social business platforms goes like this: I see the value and the potential behind it, but I don’t have time to use it or to learn all the complex functions behind it. How can I get started? This new blog posts series offers a number of tips and ideas for executives and leaders in general on how to be effective in their use of an internal social business platform, even with very limited time every day. The first post will cover the most fundamental aspect of it: your profile in the social platform.

The main point I want to make here is: your profile in your internal social platform should not be a replica of your LinkedIn or Facebook profile. The audience is different, so cater for what they are looking for. The art here is to strike a balance and avoid being too formal or too Facebook-y. The consumers of your internal social business profile are typically trying to answer these questions when they visit your internal profile page:

  • Do I know this person? Have I seen her in the past? What does she look like?
  • What does he really do at our company, beyond that fancy title of his?
  • How is she outside work? What kind of things is she interested at?
  • Who are the people he typically interact with within the organization?
  • What would be her major focus right now?

Since you are very busy, let’s go directly to the point and make this a numbered checklist.

The photos in your profile

1. Your main profile picture should “look like you” and be consistent with the way you want others in your organization to perceive you. If in doubt, err on the side of being discreet.

2. If your platform allows for other profile pictures (avatars, other photos), make the most of them. Having images of you in a context other than the decades old boardroom-style picture will help others see different aspects of you. The metaphor here involves the photos that you put on your desk or office at work. A family picture of  you in a situation outside the workplace or attending a business function may help others to see “the real you” and develop a rapport with those interacting with you often.

3. Make sure all the chosen profile pictures survive the cropping and display restrictions imposed by the platform. The pictures should look sharp, so resolution matters, and the aspect ratio should be taken into consideration. Avoid the letterboxing effect (those black bars around the image you see when watching widescreen movies on standard definition TV or vice-versa). Make sure cropping won’t ruin the image. There’s enough example of photo cropping #fail in Twitter and Facebook, you don’t want to add to that pile.

Your bio

4. You are a role model for many in your organization. People want to know what is important for you, what you do outside work that may be inspirational or some big accomplishments you are very proud of. Don’t write your bio as if it was a resume looking for a new job.

5. Not all leaders started their working life as a senior director or executive VP. If you feel bold, describe your career path. It helps others to understand career development and the diversity of paths different leaders walked to get where they are now.

Your skills / interests / expertise

6. You don’t want to add necessarily something as specific as COBOL or Java 1.2 Certification in your list of skills as a leader, but a combination of soft and hard skills may be important to show the breadth of your experience. Industry knowledge is often ignored in your set of skills, so make sure you add those. You may be working in retail or technology today, but if you worked in government or health care or insurance in the past, that only adds to your reputation. High level hard skills are also important: financial analysis, data management, information security, corporate communications go well with soft skills such as leadership, public speaking, negotiations and innovation.

People and Groups You Follow

7. Make sure your internal online social network and community membership reflect who you are in the “real” world. Follow a good mix of other leaders, peers, people rolling up to you, Subject Matter Experts, and other key business contacts. Be a member of communities that are relevant to your work (your department, the projects you are involved with, diversity or special interests communities). Think yourself as a digital citizen participating of digital events happening in digital places.

Visit your own profile and read it as if you did not know you

8. Do you like what you see? Would you be inspired by the online you? Does that profile convey an accurate image of who you are as a leader? If not, what would you change there? Search for your peers and see how they set their own online presence. You are likely find a wide variety of styles and content out there, and over time will arrive at a combination that works for you.

Good luck! Come back in January for the next post in this series.

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Aaron Kim

Aaron Kim is the Head of Digital Social Collaboration at the Royal Bank of Canada, and led the efforts to bring social business and social collaboration to an organization of 79,000 employees. He’s also been a public speaker at several events across the globe, from the Web 2.0 Expo to JiveWorld, from Singapore to Barcelona. He has a passion for innovation and for making work smarter, more meaningful and rewarding to all. Born and raised in Brazil, to a Korean father and Japanese mother, he also volunteers in several diversity initiatives, inside and outside RBC. In the past, he worked as a consultant both at IBM Canada and Unisys Brazil, having played the roles of solutions architect, Basel II analyst, performance engineer, Java programmer, Unix administrator and environmental biologist. He holds an MBA from the University of Toronto, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universidade de São Paulo. He lives in Toronto, Canada, is married to Tania and have a son, Lucas.

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